January 28, 2011


Purple Tigers pull off comeback

Visitors overcome 33-18 deficit to knock off Homer


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland High’s Tanner VanDee (right) tries to lock up Homer Central’s Eric Petrie during Thursday’s 119-pound matchup. VanDee won a close 4-3 decision as the visiting Purple Tigers were 45-33 OHSL Freedom Division winners.

Staff Writer

It will go down as one of the wrestling classics between Cortland High and Homer Central.
The Trojans received and opening bout forfeit at 103 while Cortland received the forfeit in the final bout at 96 pounds. In between, the match unfolded as both coaches expected with a few surprises. In the end, it came down the the 285-pound bout where the visiting Purple Tigers got the clinching second period pin from Paul Turco in a 45-33 OHSL Freedom Division thriller Thursday that spoiled the Trojans’ Senior Night celebrations.
It was the first division win in four outings for CHS, now 8-11 overall. Homer slipped to 1-5, 6-8 overall.
“There are no easy ones over here,” Cortland coach Dave Darrow said with a smile. “There were great matches all the way across the board. There were some kids that were outmatched, but they still battled. We won the ones we needed to. They beat us the same way last year.
“It’s always going to be like this,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter who has the kids, it’s always going to be close. We could wrestle again tomorrow and it could be totally different.”
“I am really proud of our kids,” Homer coach Jeff Lewis said. “They wrestled hard. Cortland won this match. There are no excuses. We had some guys do the right things. We had some kids do the wrong things and got caught, but I was pleased overall with all their efforts.
“This was an exciting match for the crowd,” he added. “They were into it. The kids were into it. This is what high school wrestling is all about.”
Ironically, both coaches agreed the match was decided when Cortland won, of all things, the coin flip.
“Absolutely,” Darrow said. “We got to decide how we would wrestle at 152, 160, 171 and 189. The coin flip determined all of that. We lost matches to J-D/CBA, Chittenango and Camden on coin flips.”
“Obviously, the coin flip was huge,” Lewis said. “We wanted to determine those match-ups. Once we lost the flip, I told the kids we just have to go out and wrestle heads up. Just go after it and wrestle.”
THE MATCH STARTED at 103 pounds and unfolded as many expected. Matt DeWitt (17-6) received at forfeit to put Homer on top 6-0, but Zack Alexander (23-5) answered at 112 for Cortland with a pin to even the score.
Purple Tiger eighth-grader Tanner Van Dee (10-14) used an escape and takedown to edge Eric Petrie (12-11) in a 4-3 decision at 119 for an upset, but that didn’t compare to the effort by Trojan Hugh Kiernan at 125. Kiernan (2-9) shocked the Cortland faithful with a third period pin of Alec Edwards (5-16).
Jonathan Cottrell (8-13) followed at 130 and delivered a big 3-1 decision over Frank Davenport (6-14) at 130 to give Homer a 15-9 lead.
“Hugh had a lot of emotion coming into the match so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Lewis said. “I knew the pressure was on him being a senior. Eric, being young , didn’t want to let his team down. That was a tough loss, but Hugh came right out wrestled hard and got a big win.
“I thought Jonathan could win that match,” he added. “They’ve battle before and he really wanted this one. He did a very nice job.”
A key moment came in the 135-pound match. Cortland’s Ryan Webber (12-13) prevailed with a 7-3 decision over Matt Norris (11-13). Webber lead 5-2 after two periods, but Norris got an escape early in the third period. Webber came through with a clutch takedown for two additional points and rode his way to a big win, making the team score 15-12 Homer.
The Trojans controlled the middleweights with pins by Nick Petrie (15-9) at 140, Eric Metzger (13-9) at 145 and Mark Dove (14-6) at 160. Those falls swelled the Homer lead to 33-18.
Tyler Thayer (16-6) did give Cortland six points with a win by fall over Dakota O’Gorman at 152, That was a match Lewis though would go to the Purple Tigers, but he didn’t think O’Gorman would get stuck.
THE CHS COMEBACK began at 171 when senior Luke Bush (12-10) pinned Josh Sands (1-8) 42 seconds into the second period.
“It’s always good to win against Homer,” Bush said. “It’s been hard all season. We practiced hard all week. The kids really wanted this one. We’ve worked hard all season, lost a couple of close one, but we wrestled good tonight.”
Cortland standout Garret Morse (22-5) was pushed to the limit at 189 by Trojan senior Cameron Ashley (10-10). The Cortland senior led 1-0 after a second-period escape. A technical violation on Morse knotted the score at 1-1 and Ashley took a late 2-1 lead with an escape. Morse went on the attack and score a takedown for a 3-2 lead in the closing minute and held on for the victory.
Andy Price (13-11) pulled the Purple Tigers even at 33-33 when he stuck Tony Neal with four second remaining in the first period. That set up the showdown at 285 pounds between two rising sophomores — Turco and David Kiernan of the Trojans.
Looking like 96 pounders, Turco got a quick take for Cortland, which David Kiernan reversed for two points. Turco would regroup and score a reversal of his own for a 4-2 lead. Kiernan scored a late escape as the period ended with Turco in front 4-3.
The second period began with Turco in the down position. He scored a reversal and stuck Kiernan 47 seconds into the period to seal the Purple Tigers win.
“That’s how he always wrestles,” Darrow said of Turco’s 21st win of the season. “He’s not a guy with a plan. Paul just wrestles. He’s a good wrestler and that one was fun to watch.”
Grant Tinker stepped onto the mat to formally receive to forfeit at 96 pounds for the final six Cortland points.
Cortland is back in Freedom Division action tonight as the Purple Tigers travel to Mexico for a 6 p.m. match.
“We didn’t want a match in the early part of the week,” Darrow said. “We needed three days to get ready for this one.”
“We’ve worked hard,” Bush said. “We’re good with our conditioning. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”
Cortland and Homer will both travel to the Marathon Open Tournament where the action gets underway at 9 a.m.


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