Janesville Craig’s wrestling team couldn’t help but wonder how it might have fared at full-strength against Sun Prairie.
Still down a pair of injured senior starters, the Cougars fell behind in a hurry Friday night and never completely recovered.
The Cardinals scored the first 21 points on the way to a 41-29 victory with the conference dual-meet championship on the line at the Big Eight Conference Showcase at Madison East.
“Disappointing finish for us,” Craig coach Mark Mullen said. “It wasn’t quite what we expected; we expected a pretty even match.
“We’ve had a lot of very tough matchups with Sun Prairie, and this is the first time in a while it hasn’t come down to one match.”
Sun Prairie captured the crown for the second straight year. Janesville Parker topped Madison West 54-20 to finish in seventh place.
Craig knew it would likely get off to a rough start when the draw showed the meets would start at 145 pounds. Senior Ethan Smith has been out of the lineup, and starting there meant quite a few shifts in the lineup and three freshmen and four sophomores wrestling in the first seven matches for the Cougars.
The result was a 31-3 deficit.
“You don’t want to make the excuse of not having somebody in your lineup, but that really did change things,” Mullen said. “That (weight) was probably one of the last places we wanted to start.”
Still, the Cougars knew they could counter with a similar type of run. And they nearly did.
Junior Keeanu Benton and freshman Joey Coulter earned pins at 285 and 106, respectively. And sophomore Mayson Maclennan added a technical fall at 113 that had the Cougars back within striking range, trailing 31-20.
“Nobody gave up,” Mullen said. “Kudos to those guys that won.”
Sophomore Dylan Nichols led 5-0 early at 120, but Sun Prairie’s Juan Jimenez rallied for a 17-9 major decision that essentially halted Craig’s comeback bid.
“One-twenty was a turning point,” Mullen said. “That was a huge win for them.”
The Cougars also got a pin from sophomore Joe Bellomo at 126 and decisions from senior Nate Ellis (138) and sophomore Mitchell Schumann (182).
In the seventh-place meet, AJ Miller and Nick Mackey started Parker off with pins, and the Vikings cruised to a 34-point win.
“All week we just preached going out there and wrestling hard,” Vikings coach Daniel Jackson said. “The guys went out and executed, and their intensity is right where we want it to be.”
Salvador Acosta got a pin at 195, and Tent Barlass had a thrilling pin for a sudden victory in overtime at 220. And Cory Jordan collected a pin at 132.
Both city teams wrestle in tournaments today—Parker at Whitnall and Craig at Fort Atkinson.
SUN PRAIRIE 41, CRAIG 29
145—Wyatt Thiel (SP) dec. Aiden Romack, 11-8. 152—Karson Sutton (SP) pinned Joe Smith, 1:48; 160—Drew Scharenbrock (SP) pinned Marshall Getchell, :33. 170—Jack Haraldson (SP) pinned Grant Mullen, 3:23. 182—Mitchell Schumann (JC) dec, Brendan Shannon, 7-2. 195—Alex Haug (SP) pinned Armani Bates , 2:46. 220—Mason Smith (SP) major dec. Brady Schenk, 16-3. 285—Keeanu Benton (JC) pinned Isaac Tess, 1:18. 106—Joey Coulter (JC) pinned Emily Tess, 1:40. 113—Mayson Maclennan (JC) technical fall Richard Quintana, 16-0. 120—Juan Jimenez (SP) major dec. Dylan Nichols, 17-9. 126—Joey Bellomo (JC) pinned Nicholas Vang, 1:53. 132—Dominick Stroede (SP) pinned Drake Zuehlke, 1:44. 138—Nate Ellis (JC) dec. Tyler Nelson, 2-0.
PARKER 54, WEST 20
145—A.J. Miller (JP) pinned Mark Paiz-Handrick, :39. 152—Nick Mackey (JP) pinned Ozzy Romero, 1:29. 160—Harrison Schreiber (MW) technical fall Jakob Barlass, 20-5. 170—Bryce Heerey (JP) won by forfeit. 182—Jackson Mozena (MW) pinned George Krueger, 2:50. 195—Salvador Acosta (JP) pinned Quentin Gomez, 1:48. 220—Trent Barlass (JP) pinned Juan Avila, 6:56. 285—Ashton Vickers (JP) injury default David Mora. 106—Tristan Buol (JP) won by forfeit. 113—Dylan Chambers (MW) won by forfeit. 120—Paxton Yang (MW) dec. Nicolas Lux, 9-4. 126—Robert Cooper (MW) pinned Brett Perkins, :47. 132—Cory Jordan (JP) pinned Daniel Brown, :55. 138—Palmer Goodwick (JP) won by forfeit.