With the close of the 171-pound match, the Holt and Grand Ledge match ended the way a wrestling rivalry this great should, with the apparent winner changing in the clock’s final five seconds.
After the whistle blew, the crowd still wasn’t sure who the winner was until the referee finally awarded Holt’s Duane Powers a two-point takedown that gave him an individual win and his team a 32-26 win over Grand Ledge.
“There’s no other amazing feeling like that,” Powers said. “I just wanted to start sprinting. There was just so much adrenaline, happiness, joy…all kinds of emotion all mixed in one. It was great to win like that.”
Powers entered his match with a three-point cushion, but faced Nick Verran, the 2012 conference champion. A win is worth three points so a win for Grand Ledge would tie the score. However, Holt had been assessed a one team-point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct earlier in the match, and the first tie breaker is sportsmanship. Therefore, by tying the score, Verran would effectively win the match.
And it looked like Verran had accomplished just that. With a 4-3 lead and just five seconds left, Verran and Powers were reset, and Powers appeared tired since this was his first wrestling match since Dec. 19. Powers attempted a desperation takedown and completed it at the final buzzer. The officials conferred at the scorer’s table and then awarded Powers the takedown.
“I had a lot of gas missing so I had to push through it, but there are no excuses,” Powers said. “You have to go out there and do it for yourself and do it for your team.”
With the win, Holt finishes the season undefeated in the CAAC Blue. With the conference tournament on Saturday at East Lansing, the Rams have not guaranteed a conference title, or eliminated Grand Ledge from contention, but they have established themselves the front runner. Holt coach Rocky Shaft said this win has given his team a definite boost heading into Saturday.
“If that match doesn’t give you momentum, something is wrong with you,” Shaft said.
Of Holt’s seven wins in the match, only Powers’ was not by pin or technical fall (lead by 15 points or more). Shayne Wireman pulled off the next biggest win with a first-round pin of all-state wrestler Jay Jay Brickley.
Despite the loss, Grand Ledge’s coach Steve Delaney said he is proud of his team. The Comets’ lineup features just two seniors but Delaney expects them to bounce back on Saturday and perform better.
“I said to the kids ‘tonight life happened. How are we going to respond’ and with this group of kids that I got… they’re a blue collar, hardworking bunch,” Delaney said. “I think things are going to be OK.”