No. 4 Hilltoppers Edged by No. 12 Findlay
FINDLAY, Ohio – A West Liberty comeback effort fell one point shy here Sunday as the short-handed Hilltopper wrestling team dropped a 19-18 decision to No. 12 Findlay in a battle of Top 25 powers on the Roughnecks' mat.
Wrestling without four of their six nationally-ranked wrestlers unavailable due to injury or illness, Coach Danny Irwin's No. 4-ranked Hilltoppers found themselves staring up at a 16-3 deficit at intermission. The Black and Gold finished strong, winning four of the last five matches but couldn't quite get over the hump.
There were no falls in the varsity match as each team picked up four decision wins and a forfeit in the evenly-matched duel.
The difference came at 157 pounds where Findlay's James Wimer, the nation's No. 1-ranked 157-pounder, pulled out a 13-3 major decision for the hosts. With all four of WLU victories coming by decision, that one extra bonus point from Wimer's major decision proved to be the game-winner.
Not that Irwin, who never stops preaching the bonus point "gospel," was entertaining any excuses after the match.
"Every one of my eight guys who got to compete today had the opportunity to change the final outcome of that dual during the time they were on the mat," Irwin said. "Ultimately, we went 0-for-8. You're not going to win anything when you're hitting .000 against any team, let alone a good one."
Among the highlights for West Liberty on Sunday were an impressive 4-0 shutout win by Jacob Simpson at 149 pounds following a strong showing by Brayden Johnson, who battled No. 5-ranked Branson Proudlock to the wire in their 141-pound bout only to see Johnson eke out a 6-5 win.
Chase Morgan delivered a strong finish and an 11-6 win at 165 pounds while Ty McGeary, ranked No. 9 at 174, avoided an upset with a come-from-behind 8-6 decision as the Hilltoppers closed the gap coming down the stretch.
Findlay escaped with a 3-2 win at 184 to take a 19-9 lead with two weight classes to go but a forfeit at 197 cut the deficit to 19-15 going into the 285-pound match.
Francesco Borsellino, ranked No. 5 nationally at 285, was in control from start to finish against the Roughnecks' Keigan Yuhas but couldn't get the bonus point win he needed to make up the difference on the scoreboard. A convincing 7-1 decision left the Black and Gold one point short.
"Today's experience will serve us well," Irwin said. "We'll learn from it and I'll be excited to send these guys back out on the mat Friday to take another swing at it."
West Liberty welcomes fellow MEC members Davis & Elkins and Fairmont State to the ASRC on Friday to compete in the Hilltopper Duals. First match – featuring WLU and Fairmont State – gets under way at 11 a.m.
No. 12 Findlay 19, No. 4 West Liberty 18
125: Zach Collins (UF) won by forfeit
133: Ashton Anderson (UF) d. Luke Miller (WLU), 6-2
141: #5 Branson Proudlock (UF) d. Brayden Johnson (WLU), 6-5
149: Jacob Simpson (WLU) d. Chase Moore (UF), 4-0
157: #1 James Wimer (UF) md. Jonah Smith (WLU), 13-3
165: Chase Morgan (WLU) d. Justin West (UF), 11-6
174: #9 Ty McGeary (WLU) d. Hunter Reed (UF), 8-6
184: Mark Trifelos (UF) d. Drake Kendrex (WLU), 3-2
197: Keaton Grider (WLU) won by forfeit
285: #5 Francesco Borsellino (WLU) d. Keigan Yuhas (UF), 7-1
149: Alex Epstein (UF) p. Carter Winegardner (WLU), 3:39
157: Carter Winegardner (WLU) p. Jeff Mullinax (UF), 1:11