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SOUTH WHITLEY — Wrestling is a difficult enough sport, with no timeouts, no substitutions, just two minutes of one-on-one conflict.
Wrestling is a difficult enough sport without having to give an opponent free points due to forfeits. Tuesday night the Whitko Wildcats gave up four forfeits to the visiting Northfield Norsemen.
To make the job even more difficult the Wildcats were without several regulars for the match. In the end, all the circumstances proved too much for the Wildcats as they fell by a 54-20 count.
“Tonight we gave up four forfeits and we had four guys in the lineup tonight that were not in our lineup,” Whitko head coach Frank Bumgardner said. “The bottom line tonight was that we lost 30-20 (in contested matches) before the forfeits.
“We always say that there is no such thing as moral victories but you look at all the forfeits. The bottom line is that we lost anyway.”
The Wildcats broke out on top, when sophomore Chris Phillips scored a tough 11-8 win in the match at 160 pounds to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
The Norse went in front with a pin at 171 pounds.
Junior Wes Gensch dropped a 7-2 decision at 189 pounds. Northfield picked up another pinfall win at 215 pounds to go ahead 15-3.
The Wildcats got back on the winning track when junior Ben Hinora, trailing 4-1, scored a pinfall win over Northfield’s Cody Curless at the 2:20 mark of the match at 285 pounds. Hinora’s win pulled the Wildcats within six at 15-9.
Northfield stretched the lead with a forfeit at 103 pounds, before Whitko’s Colton LeTourneau scored a techfall win 18-2 over Northfield’s Thomas Rockenbaugh.
The Whitko sophomore led 11-2 after the first period on three takedowns and two nearfalls. LeTourneau’s win closed the gap to 21-14.
Following a Northfield pin at 119 pounds, in one of the closest matches of the evening, Whitko’s Kuyler Bailey squared off against Northfield’s Dylan Poole at 125 pounds.
Trailing 13-8, Bailey reeled off an escape and a third period reversal, but couldn’t turn Poole and fell by a 13-11 count.
Northfield picked up three straight forfeit wins to take an insurmountable 48-14 lead with only two contests left.
At 145 pounds, Wildcat junior Cody Bays fell by pin to Hunter Wells with just two seconds left in the first period.
Fellow junior Josh Busenbark ended the match on a high note with a pinfall win over Northfield’s Spencer Miller in 1:51 at 152 pounds. Busenbark’s win accounted for the final 54-20 score.
The loss drops the Wildcats’ record to 15-13 on the season heading into Saturday’s Three Rivers Conference meet at Northfield. The Wildcats have won the TRC Conference meet for the past eight years straight.
“We are hoping that things will come together for us at the conference meet,” Bumgardner said. “We haven’t been healthy all year long, and this may be the best team health-wise that we have had all year if everything goes according to plan.”
The match with Northfield was also senior night for the Wildcats with the lone senior Jordan Gilbert being honored for his four years of wrestling with the ’Cats.