It wasn’t a pretty scene Friday night at Jack R. McCrory Gymnasium, as the under-manned Bear River wrestling squad suffered an ugly 63-12 loss against Center.
Forfeiting four weight classes, the Bruins faced the daunting task of needing to overcome a 24-0 hole. The team needed to win almost all of its 10 matches to pull off a stunning upset. It won just three, but the victories were well-deserved and battle-tested.
“It was definitely an eye-opening evening,” said Bruins head coach Kevin Figueroa. “A few of my key wrestlers overlooked some simple mistakes. It was a little wake-up call for the individuals. Tristan (Wohlgemuth) did a wonderful job — Carter (Danieli), Noah (Danieli). Jon (Good) fought and kept going. I just appreciated how they all kept fighting.”
The Danieli brothers led things off for the Bruins. Freshman Noah Danieli took to the mat first in the 109-pound category and didn’t waste any time getting points on the board, with a takedown just nine seconds into the match. He continued to dominate his opponent, Noel Reeves, through the first period and built an 11-0 advantage after a couple of near falls. Starting from the defensive position to begin the second period, he used his agility and strength to flip Reeves for a reversal and won with an impressive pin.
“I went in with a game plan and tried to keep my head straight, stay aggressive and attack,” said Noah Danieli. “I created some openings and used whatever chance I got. I stood up and he flipped off my back and I ended in a half.”
Next up was big brother, senior Carter Danieli (115), who won his match against Isaiah Means by decision, 8-1. Both wrestlers got tangled early and kept up the attack. Danieli later introduced Means to the mat with a fierce takedown and kept him face down through much of the first period. He was able to get a reversal in the second period to take a 4-0 lead, but Means eventually broke free. Danieli finished what he started, adding another reversal, and was just a few inches and seconds away from getting the pin as the clocked ticked down in the third period, but instead he had to settle for a near fall.
“I should have wrestled a little bit harder,” said Danieli. “I got a little mojo through my head. The single to a double worked the best and the motivation and strength to go along. I hope to do better versus Placer. I want to make it as far as a I can to Masters and State.”
Bear River’s final win was also one of the night’s most captivating to watch. Freshman Wohlgemuth (162) remained poised and overcame a 7-5 deficit in the third period on his way to a 10-7 decision against Jared Graham. He capitalized on Graham’s vulnerable tendencies and was able to outmaneuver him to secure position when it mattered most. A reversal followed by a takedown with 40 seconds left in the final period all but sealed the deal, and Wohlgemuth was able to ride it out on top until the end.
“I didn’t want to get pinned,” said Wohlgemuth. “I kept hand control and didn’t go over on my back. I felt I stayed aggressive and ahead of (Graham). When I rolled him out of the cradle was my favorite part.”
Of the squad’s seven losses, five were by pin, one by decision and another was by technical. Good (154) had one of the harder to swallow losses as he was pinned with just one second left in the first period while trailing 5-2. Trevor Bisagno also had a tough outing. Once leading 6-0, he was surprisingly pinned in the second period.
“Trevor got caught not thinking,” added Figueroa.
“His opponent was able to find that one opportunity and maximize it. We won 5 of 9 of our matches against Foothill but lost because we had to forfeit the rest. Next year we’ll have a full roster. Right now, I’m looking forward to the PVL Championships for our individuals.”
Bear River hits the mat again today at the Placer Duals tournament before finishing out its Pioneer Valley League regular season Tuesday, when it hosts Placer for Senior Night.
Brian Shepard is a free- lance sports writer who contributes to The Union regularly.