By joe Catullo Jr.
When deciding which matchups he should take against Girard on Wednesday, Jackson-Milton coach Dave Tomaino penciled in Tyler Staton to face Garrett Bass in the 138-pound weight class.
“That was one of the ones where you put a question mark at the end of it that could go either way,” Tomaino said. “That was definitely one of the hinge matches.”
It was the night’s first match, and for a while it looked as though the Bluejays would win. Trailing by one point with seconds trickling off the clock, Bass had one thing on his mind.
“Get behind him; get the win,” he said to himself.
Bass rolled through Staton’s defense and pulled him down. The referee raised two fingers in the air with one second left. What went from a Bluejays celebration waved over to the Indians in a heartbeat as Bass won 8-7, giving Girard early momentum in a 45-25 victory.
“You’ve got to live with some calls sometimes,” Tomaino said. “That’s part of the life-changing experience of the sport.”
Bass’ teammate, Zane Chase, said it set the tone early.
“We see Garrett as one of our top wrestlers,” Chase said. “When it was that close, we got nervous, but we knew he had what it took to win. When he did, everyone’s momentum was boosted and ready to go for the rest of the matchups.”
Chase was also part of a close matchup himself. He wrestled Devin Seka in a 120-pound match and won 7-5. Similar to Bass, he won two points as time expired. Chase also beat Seka by two points in Saturday’s Jackson-Milton Invitational.
“He was tough to do anything to, so I knew coming into this match today that that would be the same way,” Chase said. “He was tough to turn, he was tough to take down, and he came out as hard on me as he did on Saturday.”
Girard coach Jim Cardiero also said it was going to be a difficult match because of Saturday’s result and the way Chase wrestles.
“I expect him to win those close ones at the end,” Cardiero said. “That’s his game. He likes to keep it close at the end with his conditioning.”
Overall, Cardiero was happy with the Indians (7-3) bouncing back after losing by a half-point on Saturday and finishing second.
“Like I’ve been saying the past couple of weeks, we’re starting to get into shape, and we’re starting to get in our groove,” he said. “We’re — I guess you can say — in our midseason form. We still have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be for the postseason.”
The Bluejays (1-3) finished third in the tournament.
“Going into the tournament, I felt like we took a leap forward,” Tomaino said. “Here, we stumbled a little bit, and with a young team that sometimes happens. We’re going to go back and beat the heck out of them for next week. That’s just all you’ve got to do.”