In order to defeat Bishop Carroll, the state-ranked wrestling nemesis of Kapaun Mount Carmel, it would come down to the final match and a pin was necessary.
Ben Powers was smiling before the match even started.
A little more than a minute later, Powers was still smiling after he pinned Joe Harris to electrify his team and crowd as the Crusaders upended Carroll 34-33 in a City League dual on Thursday evening.
That’s why Powers is the No. 1-ranked heavyweight in Class 5A.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“That’s something I’ll never forget,” Powers said. “Senior year, beating our rivals, coming down to the last match, getting a pin and winning by one … I mean, that’s awesome.”
This victory may have been decided in the last match, but the upset was set up well before then for Kapaun, which improved to 3-0 in league duals.
It started with the opening match, at 103 pounds, where freshman Michael Spangler gave Kapaun the early lead in a swing match against Phillip Hoang. Spangler, who only weighs 89 pounds, has faced nearly a 15-pound deficit the entire season.
But what Spangler lacks in size, he makes up for with his technical ability. That was on full display in his match Thursday, as he registered the winning takedown in overtime for a 5-3 decision.
“A lot of these kids I’ve been wrestling longer than, but they’re a lot bigger than me,” Spangler said. “So I have to stay in good position and be technically sound. I wrestle smart and I wrestle hard.”
Another swing came in the 120-pound match, where Tony Metler, a junior varsity fill-in, stepped into the lineup and came away with a 5-4 decision over Joseph Rowden.
But Kapaun may have actually won in a match that it lost. Jonah Lies was on the brink of being pinned, caught in a headlock by Jacob Duling with 30 seconds left in the third period. But Lies was able to stave off the pin and save Kapaun three points.
“If he gets pinned, we lose that dual,” Kapaun coach Tim Dryden said.
Carroll still positioned itself for the win when Tommy Marquez, at 195 and Nick Nolting, at 220, both state-ranked wrestlers, delivered pins to swing a 28-21 deficit into a 33-28 lead entering the final match.
But a 5-point lead was not enough with Powers left.
It was the first dual loss of the season for Carroll, which is ranked No. 7 in 5A and is now 2-1 in league action.
“It’s always disappointing losing, but it’s also a learning experience,” Carroll coach J.D. Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter who is ranked. Whenever you get Kapaun and Carroll together, it’s always a big rivalry.”
And that’s what made it so sweet for Powers, who was still grinning 15 minutes after the match.
“I like that the team puts that on my shoulders,” Powers said. “Everyone on my team expects that from me and I did it.”
106—Spangler, KMC, dec. Hoang, 4-2; 113—Ayala, KMC, pinned Linnebur, 0:39; 120—Metler, KMC, dec. Rowden, 5-4; 126—Sullentrop, BC, dec. O'Donnell, 11-5; 132—Murphy, BC, dec. Le, 5-3; 138—Wilson, KMC, major dec. Gericke, 13-5; 145—Sponsel, BC, pinned Muir, 1:45; 152—Carrillo, BC, pinned Mertes, 2:24; 160—Duling, BC, dec. Lies, 10-3; 170—Mills, KMC, pinned Gottschalk, 1:08; 182—Nece, KMC, pinned Caldwell, 1:16; 195—Marquez, BC, pinned Derrick-Bryant, 0:31; 220—Nolting, BC, pinned Baxter, 0:52; 285—Powers, KMC, pinned Harris, 1:08.