COLUMBUS — A chess match broke out in the middle of Elyria’s Division I dual team state tournament quarterfinal matchup with Cincinnati La Salle on Sunday morning, with the teams combining for five forfeits in a stretch of six weight classes as the coaching staffs tried to figure out how to get the upper hand.
“I was like, ‘What are they doing? Why are they forfeiting everybody?’” Pioneers junior Matt Zuckerman said. “I was like, ‘What’s going on? We just wrestled 132 and now we’re at 160.’”
Four of the forfeits went Elyria’s way, giving the Pioneers a huge early lead, but La Salle finished with four straight pins to roar back and win the opening dual meet 40-30 at St. John Arena.
“I didn’t know what they were doing,” senior Brendon Fenton said. “They gave up three forfeits in a row and I didn’t know what was going on. I thought we were going to end up winning it, but they played it smart and ended up taking the dual.”
The Lancers grabbed a 7-0 lead by winning the first two weight classes. Fenton, a two-time Division I state champion, ended the run with a 5-0 victory at 120, and Mick Burnett gave Elyria its first lead, 9-7, with a forfeit victory.
Zuckerman extended the lead with a 5-4 overtime win over Casey Wiles at 132 pounds.
“Mick went out at 126 and they ran their 126 to 132, which didn’t really pay off for them since Zuckerman won,” Pioneers coach Erik Burnett said. “All the rest of it came down to wrestling. I don’t know how many of the moves actually paid off for them. They were giving up six (points) and we needed our guys to go out and win or not give up bonus points, which we did not do a great job of.”
Zuckerman needed to rally to tie the match twice, fought through a scoreless sudden victory period and used his strong riding skills to pull out the decision in the tiebreaker period.
“It was upsetting to give up the first takedown in the first 30 seconds of the match and going down 2-0, but I just kept working, got the escape and I tried to keep pushing the pace,” Zuckerman said. “I knew because he was a 126 and he bumped up and I weighed in at 132 cutting down, that I was going to be a little bigger than him. So I went in there and tried to wrestle my match and keep it at my pace.”
Having a size advantage wasn’t the only thing Zuckerman had going for him.
“He’s working real hard in the (practice) room,” Fenton said. “He drills with (St. Paris Graham transfer) Jordan Crace now and he works with me also, so I feel that’s a good combination for him.”
La Salle gave up forfeits at the next three weights — to Enrique Munguia at 145, Jimmy Schill at 152 and Farouq Muhammed at 160 — before Lancers junior Trey Sizemore ended the run with a 3-0 victory over Elyria freshman Jake Evans at 170.
“We were hoping to have the Farouq-Sizemore matchup, but we had to put our guy out first,” Erik Burnett said. “I can’t run Farouq up two weight classes. He weighed in at 152 and they ran Sizemore up to 170. So we ran Evans up and he just couldn’t get that turn in the second or third period that I had hoped he would get.
“So it’s just a matter of little things here or there.”
Even with Sizemore’s win, Elyria still led 30-16 in the dual with four matches to go.
“We knew we were inexperienced or even outmanned at some of the weight classes, so the big thing was when we had our 30-to-whatever lead is, ‘Hey, we’re not going to win (some of the individual matches), but we have to limit the bonus,’” Burnett said. “(The Lancers) just went out and got their bonus.”
The quick exit wasn’t optimal — even through the Pioneers would have had to face top-seeded Graham, which beat La Salle 43-16 in the semifinals — but it was still a run that only a few schools in the state were able to accomplish.
“It was a great experience for our team,” Fenton said. “Just that it ends for me (as a senior), that sucks, but they have another shot next year I feel like. This last experience, it’s just sad that it couldn’t end up how we wanted it. We’ll just go back and keep working.”
Cincinnati La Salle 40, Elyria 30
106 — Duston Norris (CL) maj. dec. Bryce Allison, 11-2. 113 — Lucas Byrd (CL) dec. Dylan Shawver, 4-3. 120 — Brendon Fenton (E) dec. Antoine Allen, 5-0. 126 — Mick Burnett (E) won by forfeit. 132 — Matt Zuckerman (E) dec. Casey Wiles, 5-4 (TB). 138 — E’lan Heard (CL) won by forfeit. 145 — Enrique Munguia (E) won by forfeit. 152 — Jim Schill (E) won by forfeit. 160 — Farouq Muhammed (E) won by forfeit. 170 — Trey Sizemore (CL) dec. Jake Evans, 3-0. 182 — Blake Wilson (CL) pinned Lewis Aguilar, 5:41. 195 — Michael Baker (CL) pinned Andrew Levis, 1:06. 220 — Garrett Bledsoe (CL) pinned Tim Kenska, 1:17. 285 — Robert Brown (CL) pinned Kobe Thomas, :29.
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