There were two rounds of wrestling remaining Saturday, and the home team was behind, in second place at the Penfield Hunter Holiday Tournament.
What began as a ripple during the wrestleback round, was a full-formed comeback wave by tournament’s end.
Penfield lightweights Parker Kropman and senior Eric Harley won their weight classes, as the Patriots passed Victor on the way to a point total of 194 to reclaim the tournament’s team title.
Victor finished second with 177, followed by Lancaster (158), Greece (157.5) and Webster Thomas (156).
Kropman, a 99-pound seventh-grader, looked content as he ate a slice of pizza long after his 3-2 win over Victor’s Mike Venosa during the finals. He was anything but worried after Victor led the team scoring through the semifinals.
“First, (Penfield coach John Leone) talks about you doing what you need to do to win your match,” Kropman explained. “When you have the match in hand, then you go for the bonus points.
“After I won my match (in the finals), it was double swing (in points) because we won and Victor lost that match.”
Kropman escaped from the bottom starting position during the third period to even the score at one. The Penfield lightweight, then managed to jerk Venosa by the shoulders to the mat for a takedown with about 40 seconds remaining.
Venosa earned another point for his second escape to a standing position, but Kropman improved his record to 15-2.
“It feels good,” Kropman said. “When I was younger, I watched the older wrestlers at this tournament, and I always wanted to win it. I’ve done it twice.”
Harley defeated Gates Chili’s Sam Giovino, 6-2 in the 132 final, one weekend removed from a tough loss during the semifinals of the Top Hat tournament in Pennsylvania.
“He’s been stepping up, doing all of the extra things,” Leone said. “His intensity in practice has changed.
“He’s always been there, but he seems to really want it.”
Part of Victor’s plans, with six seniors in the lineup, is to get that Monroe County division title that has eluded the Blue Devils as runner-ups the last three years.
“We’re trying to finally close the door,” Victor coach Craig Kaper said.
The door is open for alumni of Victor wrestling to come back and celebrate, a-hard-to-believe-it’s-true 50 years as a program on Jan. 9. The Blue Devils face Brighton that evening.
“Overall, we did well (at Penfield),” Kaper said. “Actually, we did a little better than I anticipated. That’s always a good thing.
“One thing we have to keep in mind, is that we have to finish a tournament. You get five finalists and only one champion, something is not right. We have to keep working.”
Leone was glad the Patriots did on Saturday.
“I thought Victor was kicking our butts,” Leone said. “Kids started pinning people, and a pin is a bonus two points.”
One of the dates the Patriots circled on their calendars is Dec. 22, this coming Saturday.
Penfield hosts Rush-Henrietta and Webster Thomas during a three-way meet. Proceeds from the $3 admission fee and donations go to Camp Good Days and Special Times.
Leone and assistant coach Ed Porto turned the idea of the meet that they discussed for two years into reality, after two parents of team members were diagnosed with cancer.