BEAVERCREEK — The Battle for County Lines features the area’s top two ranked wrestling programs, Fairmont and Beavercreek, going head to head early on in the season.
But before the war on the mat began, the Beavercreek squad gave a heart-warming gesture. With the help of donations from the school, Beavercreek presented the Kettering Fairmont Firebirds with a check worth $3,200 dollars for the Mobley family who tragically lost members of their family last Thursday in a fire.
Beavercreek coach Gary Wise and his team met Fairmont coach Frank Baxter and his team in the middle of the mat to hand the check over before the match started, and Baxter gives all the credit to Wise.
“It was Gary’s idea. We obviously supported it, we participated, but hats off to Gary because he’s the one that came up with it,” he said. “He did it out of the kindness of his heart. That’s pretty cool. It shows exactly what type of person Gary Wise is.”
But the dual meet still had to be played, and it was the number one ranked Firebirds that came out on top, winning decidedly, 41-24.
Wise said that he saw some good individual effort, but that his team needs to mature as a unit.
“Not impressive, we got a lot of work to do. Luckily it’s the beginning of the year,” he said. “We’re going to look to our seniors for a little bit more leadership. It’s not good as a coach when I’m looking at the freshmen as leaders. That won’t work.”
The night started at the 152-pound matchup between two freshman, Mark Kimbrell of Fairmont and Keaton Keller of Beavercreek. The match went three rounds, with Kimbrell coming out on top with a major decision to give Fairmont a 4-0 lead.
Beavercreek’s first win came at the 170 pound mark, when senior Austin Houser pinned his opponent, making the team score 10-6 in favor of Fairmont. Unfortunately for the Beavers, the Firebirds came right back next round and pinned Devin Hicks in the 182 matchup.
The turning point of the dual meet came right after the 285 pounders, where Fairmont’s Jean Nsanzimana won in a decision over Mark Riedel, giving the Firebirds a 19-15 lead.
In the 106-pound matchup, Beavercreek freshman Colin Nuener pinned Fairmont freshman Alex Roberds in 15 seconds, giving the Beavers the 21-19 advantage.
All the momentum seemed to be in Beavercreek’s favor, but then the chess match began. Wise decided to forfeit the 120 round so that senior Ben Heiland could move up and wrestle in the 126-pound matchup against a lesser experienced Caleb Jarrell. The two battled for three rounds and remained scoreless going into overtime. Jarrell and Heiland dueled for position in the overtime period, but Jarrell was able to get the two-point takedown just as time expired, putting Fairmont up 32-21 and effectively ending the team battle.
Baxter said that the move made sense.
“It was the right move, I probably would have made the move myself. But Caleb Jarrell stayed in there and fought,” he said. “I don’t want to single out one guy because it was a team effort, but this is his first big varsity dual and he goes into overtime with the match kind of on the line, and he comes up big.”
Beavercreek had one more win in the 132-pound duel, when freshman Austin Witt defeated junior Tyler Hardy, but it wouldn’t help in the end.
Wise talked about putting more responsibility on his team during practice, and focusing on what’s next.
“It’s the nature of the sport. You go right back. It’s like striking out in baseball. You go back and you think you’re going to get a hit next time. It’s a mentality you have to have,” Wise said.