Steven Davis had been working four years for this moment, so no one could blame him for counting as the final seconds ticked away.
Clinging to a 5-4 lead, Davis was 19 seconds away from victory in the 132-pound championship match Saturday at the fifth annual Mount Pleasant Wrestling Tournament. If he could hold off Polytech’s Jake Hosfelt, it was going to be the first individual tournament title of the senior’s career.
“All I did was cover his legs and hold him down, pressure into him and just hold it in there,” Davis said. “I held everything tight and counted it down.”
With many of the state’s top teams competing elsewhere, the tournament gave some lesser-known wrestlers a chance to shine. Defending Division II state champion Polytech dominated the action, placing nine wrestlers in the 14 weight-class finals, winning six of those matches and scoring 277 points to easily outpace Middletown (192.5), Milford (166) and Newark (162.5) in the 14-team field.
“We’re excited. We hoped to come up here and wrestle well, and we did,” Polytech coach Eric Buckson said. “You’re only as good as your next bout, and we’ll see what next week holds. But we’re going to enjoy this one.”
Davis was Hodgson’s only individual champion, and he had to rally for the victory. The senior led Hosfelt 2-0 after the first period but trailed 4-2 going into the final period.
“I was never worried,” Davis said. “I was just sticking with what I knew. When he got on top, I just knew I had to reverse him and stay on top for the last period.”
The comeback meant a lot to Hodgson coach Curtis Pace.
“He came back from losing to win that match in the end,” Pace said. “I couldn’t be more proud. That’s the type of match that defines a wrestler. That’s the type of match that opens eyes and says, ‘Hey, this kid has got something.’ “
Spencer Hahn got Polytech off to a good start in the finals, taking the 106-pound title by pin in 4:31. The Panthers’ Cody Stevens took even less time in the 113-pound final, downing his opponent in 1:43.
“There was some good competition,” Stevens said. “I think I just wrestled harder than everybody. As soon as I took him down, I went to my best move – the cradle. It worked.”
Andy Scheusser (126), Eddie Waishes (160) and Mark Mullnack (182) also won for Polytech. The Panthers’ David Hestera put together perhaps the most impressive performance of the day, pinning all three of his opponents. He took a cautious approach in the final before finishing Middletown’s Austin Brant in 1:48.
“I knew the last match was going to be kind of tough,” Hestera said. “I waited a short time before I tried anything crazy, just to make sure everything was safe.”
Middletown and Milford both had three individual winners. Jake Vick (120), Carter McClung (152) and Erich Schneider (170) took titles for the Cavaliers, while John Badger (138), Alvonte Drummond (145) and Jeff Delva (285) won for the Buccaneers. The other individual winner was Conrad’s Travis Testa at 195.
But Polytech’s overall performance earned perhaps the biggest prize of all – the team’s first day off of the season. The Panthers will take Monday off before resuming the grind.
“The focus of the whole day was to have the kids wrestle a full six minutes, whether they were up, down or tied,” Buckson said. “We wanted to get after it, wrestle tough all three periods. I thought that as a group, we did that.”