By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Less than two weeks ago, the North Marion wrestling team rolled into the East Fairmont Duals and defeated the Bees on their home mat.
Wednesday at North Marion, seventh-ranked East Fairmont pulled a reversal, defeating the third-ranked Huskies on their home mat, 38-33.
“It’s a huge win for us,” East Fairmont coach John Geary said. “The kids really wanted to get after it, especially up here.”
Just like the last time the teams met, the match was tightly contested to the bitter end.
In the second-to-last match, North Marion’s lone senior, Ryan Elliott, celebrated senior night by pinning his opponent.
Elliott’s six points from the pin pulled the Huskies to within a single point of the Bees, 34-33, heading into the final match of the evening.
In the end, experience trumped youth when East Fairmont senior Brody Nestlerotte defeated North Marion freshman Caleb Kuhn to secure the team victory.
“You just get the feeling that you’ve got to win. You can’t lose, especially with the bragging rights on the line,” Nestlerotte said. “It means a lot more to win here, not just because it’s a county rival, but then to do it on their senior night and they’re one of the best teams in the state. It’s a good feeling.”
East Fairmont opened the match in dominant fashion. Dalton Michael, Jordan Leonard, Hayden Stewart and Cam Stewart all collected victories, and Daniel Hopkins added the exclamation point with a pin to give East Fairmont a 22-3 lead. North Marion’s lone victory during the stretch came from Andrew Lewis.
But the Huskies rallied. Tyler Arnett, Roger Cummings, Justin O’Dell and Joe Efaw picked up four consecutive pins to give North Marion a 27-22 lead.
However, that lead would be short-lived. With North Marion missing a couple athletes, East Fairmont’s William Johnson and Gian Vandetta earned forfeit victories to give East Fairmont a 34-27 advantage heading into Ryan Elliott’s match.
“That’s just what happens when you don’t have the depth that you should have,” North Marion coach Dave Tennant said. “I’m hoping to fix that next year, but right now we can’t find an extra 113- or 120-pounder anywhere.”
Though Elliott pinned his opponent to set up the decisive final match, he said the team loss spoiled the senior night to some degree.
“It was nice to get the pin, but it would have been a lot nicer if the team would have come out with the win,” Elliott said. “We had some tough matches tonight and some tough losses.”
Despite the loss, Tennant said he was proud of the way his team battled to the end.
“I was really impressed with our kids’ no-quit attitude,” he said. “We did the best with what we had tonight. We had some guys out for disciplinary reasons. We had some guys who were in weight classes they don’t normally wrestle in. We had some young kids who hadn’t seen true varsity action all year. I thought our kids fought really hard tonight.”
North Marion is back in action Friday at the West Virginia National Guard Tournament. East Fairmont, meanwhile, will grapple again on Saturday in a quad match with Brooke, Parkersburg and University.
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.