With the two best teams in Class 6A squaring off in a high-energy atmosphere on a neutral floor with numerous college coaches watching, there was much hype surrounding the Derby-Goddard wrestling match Tuesday night at Newman University.
And the teams didn't disappoint.
Leading by as many as 20 points, No. 2 Derby held off a late rally by the top-ranked Lions and hung on for a 27-25 victory.
"Anytime Goddard and Derby get together, you know it's going to be a heck of a dual," Derby coach Bill Ross said. "We knew there would be several close matches. We were just fortunate to come out on top of most of them."
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Only once did the Panthers record a pin and they had no technical falls. In fact, all of their victories came by five points or less.
"Obviously Derby's kids showed up and mine didn't," Goddard coach Brett Means said. "These kids now have to decide if they want to go back and get to work."
The premier match of the evening came at 140 pounds, featuring the Lions' Trey Houlden (ranked second) and the Panthers' Bradley Little (top ranked).
But it was all Little from the get-go.
He nearly pinned Houlden early in the first period, instead earning a near-fall and a 5-2 lead. All Houlden mustered the next two periods were a couple of escapes. Little won the match 9-4.
"He placed higher than me at state last year and I didn't like that much," Little said. "There is a little bit of rivalry, so I was ready to go."
Derby's stretched its lead to 24-7, when Vontez Long pinned Blake Mitchell at 152.
The pivotal match in the dual came at 160, where Panthers sophomore Myles Stroud rallied to beat Kevin Le 9-8.
Usually a junior varsity wrestler, Stroud trailed Le 8-7 as time was winding down in the third period, but as time expired he took down Le and earned the two points necessary for the win.
Stroud's victory gave Derby a 27-7 lead — and was the final match Derby won.
If Goddard would have won that match, it would have most likely won the dual.
"I knew it was now or never," Stroud said. "Coach said he needed the win, so I just came out and gave it my all."
103—Bonilla, G, def. Morrow, D, 11-3; 112— Martinez, G, def. T. Le. D, 9-3; 119— Harington, D, def. Lemon, G, 7-3; 125— Heincker, D, def. Kimple, G, 6-3; 130— McComb, D, def. Belle, G, 8-4; 135— Reinhart, D, def. Selves, G, 3-2; 140— Little, D, def. Houlden, G, 9-4; 145— Shavlik, D, def. Macy, G, 8-3; 152— Long, D, pinned Mitchell, G, :53; 160— Stroud, D, def. Le, G, 9-8; 171— Spencer, G, def. Chavez, D, 2-0; 189— Beard, G, def. Carpenter, D, 3-1; 215— Woodruff, G, forfeit; 285— Hicks, G, pinned Marlatt, D, 1:11.