When the Dunkirk Marauders wrestling team hits the mat, coach Joe McMurdy asks each one of them to give him 100 percent at all times.
And for the ones who were able to Wednesday, that was just enough as the Marauders edged the Gowanda Panthers, 38-34, in Division 1 high school wrestling.
"We kind of expected this kind of match," McMurdy said. "We forfeited five weight classes. It looks like that is going to be the norm. We have some injuries and some ineligible wrestlers the rest of the way. The kids we put out there, wrestled hard and that's what we are asking. These are kids who work hard and really try. What more can you ask?"
OBSERVER?Photo by Roger Coda
Dunkirk’s Billy Seiders, right, and Gowanda’s John Flynn, left, wrestle during their match at 126 pounds Wednesday, during CCAA Division I action at Dunkirk High School.
A key match came at 120-pounds as Dunkirk's Tito Colom barely held on for an 8-7 decision victory over Gowanda's Dave Poff, to give the Marauders a 32-19 advantage.
With Colom holding what seemed to be a commanding 8-1 lead heading into the final frame, Poff battled back and got three points for a near pinfall, and another point due to Colom stalling, to cut the deficit, 8-5. Poff attempted another cradle move for the pin, but could not finish the move before the match ended.
"I was hoping we had a pin there with that cradle," Gowanda coach Mark Leous said. "Dave gave Tito all he could handle. David is a freshman. I was hoping for an upset, but Tito is a good wrestler. He just kept battling. It should be a good confidence builder for Dave."
"We aren't used to seeing that from Tito," McMurdy added. "It happens. He knew enough to make sure he didn't get pinned. He hung on and that was big."
Those three points proved to be crucial for the Marauders. Had Poff pulled off the upset, the final score of the meet would have read 37-35, in favor of the Panthers.
McMurdy noted a big victory for Dunkirk came at 99 pounds as Brad Yochum earned a pin at the 4:41 mark over Jack Vanwey.
With a 6-2 lead heading into the final period and starting from the bottom position, Yochum nailed a reversal and found himself in a position to pin Vanwey for the six-point victory.
"Bradley is an eighth grader and this is his first year," McMurdy said. "You get a lead and then you don't know what's going to happen sometimes. He wrestled excellent. We are looking forward to having him the next few years."
Also for Dunkirk, Nick Jones continued his stellar season with a pin at the 5:22 mark. The victory improves Jones' record to 28-2 for the freshman.
"He is dominating," McMurdy said. "He does an excellent, excellent job of controlling matches. We will get him eight more matches in the next couple weeks and then he will be ready for the Class tournament. He is one of the guys who is in the best shape on my whole team. He pushes the heavyweights. In the third period is when he seems to pick up steam."
For the Panthers, Shane DeLeo earned his first career varsity win at 170 as he defeated Mike Adams with an 11-8 decision.
"He just wrestled tough all the way through and wouldn't give up," Leous said. "He did a good job."
Also picking up a win for Gowanda was John Flynn as he defeated Billy Seiders, 6-0.
"They are always tough," McMurdy said of Gowanda. "They have a lot of kids and excellent coaches. They do an excellent job and are always a classy group."
Dunkirk returns to action today as it travels to rival Fredonia for a 5 p.m. match.
"We hope to get some fans at Fredonia (today) and make that a solid dual meet," McMurdy said. "We match up well, so it should be close."