By Ryan Buck
Many sports figures claim their seasons are “a grind.” Wrestlers, however, speak the truth.
Despite being shorthanded on the road against its archrival, Girard downed All-American Conference foe Liberty, 43-27, on Wednesday night.
Aches, pains and injuries weren’t enough to stop the Indians from seizing control of the event in the later matches to win going away.
As a box of freshly laundered “Beat Girard” t-shirts was being folded away by disappointed Liberty students, Girard coach Jim Cardiero spoke of his team’s challenge.
“I don’t like to tell what the injuries are,” said the 23-year veteran coach. “We’ve got some medical things and some things that we’re hoping to heal, to put it that way. Hopefully, the doctors give us releases.
“It’s kind of tough because I only have 16 guys left on the team.”
The medical attrition created opportunities for younger athletes.
“We had four guys out of the lineup tonight so I was wrestling with some back-ups and they stepped up,” Cardiero said. “So proud. Those guys work hard every day in practice, so they got their chance to shine.”
After Liberty’s Dai’Quen Greene won a 7-5 overtime decision over Girard’s Chris Morgan at 126 pounds, the Indians shut out the Leopards for the rest of the night.
Girard sophomore Rob Golden’s 10-8 decision over Logan Weinreber at 182 put the Indians ahead 37-27.
Golden, normally in the junior varsity lineup, was called upon at the last minute and all but clinched a victory for Girard.
“With my win, they really couldn’t come back,” said Golden, who is 5-7 in spot duty for the varsity. “It was exciting, too, because I don’t get a lot of chances. It’s added pressure.
“I wanted to help all of our seniors win at Liberty.”
Cardiero encouraged Golden to move up in weight classes to help.
“Robbie, he can be a 145-pounder and I kind of fattened him up so he can wrestle at 182,” Cardiero said. “He actually weighs in the 160s, but he had to gain weight to wrestle at 182 tonight, so that’s big.”
Golden’s win was a microcosm of Girard’s night.
“If we pick up a win there, it might be a different end to the match,” said Liberty assistant coach Justin Machamer. “Other than that, I thought it was a pretty hard-fought match, no really big momentum swings.”
Tim Mazzella followed Golden’s performance with a convincing win at 195. The junior pinned Liberty’s Pat Sturgeon with six seconds left in the second period to end the Indians’ evening on a high note.
“In the second period, I started out on the bottom,” Mazella said. “Then I got an escape, then he got me in a takedown. I stayed patient and I waited until I got the right moment to make my move.”
Liberty, one year after overcoming its rival on the road, saw Girard return the favor.
“We knew what we were in for,” Machamer said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. We see these guys pretty much everywhere in tournaments and such.”