It’s not out of the ordinary that the outcome of a wrestling match rests on the pre-match coin flip to determine who gets choice in odd, or even, bouts.
Garden Spot won the flip in Thursday night’s L-L League Section Two showdown with Lampeter-Strasburg in New Holland.
And the Spartans won the dual meet, 34-33.
In a match that started at 113 pounds, Garden Spot (5-0 league, 6-0 overall) took the odd bouts.
Thirteen bouts later, clinging to a 31-30 lead, the Spartans sent Charles Martin (10-6) out to face the Pioneers' Zac Shelley (13-3).
After a scoreless first period, Martin had choice to start the second. He took bottom and, six minutes and 21 seconds later, claimed a 3-2 ultimate tie-break victory.
They spent a total of 47 seconds — out of 8:21 — on the mat, trading escapes in regulation and in the mandatory 30-second tiebreaker periods.
Because Martin scored the first point, way back at the start of the second period, he had choice in the ultimate tiebreak.
In fact, he took no chances getting to the ultimate tiebreak, letting Shelley out in the second 30 to guarantee its occurrence.
“I knew that bottom was my strongest spot,” Martin said. “I’m pretty explosive off my standup and if I can get that, I can keep going and take what he gives me.”
He broke free from Shelley in three seconds each time he was on bottom.
But, in the 30-second ultimate tiebreak, Shelley blunted his standup, returning him to the mat several times.
“He was trying to catch hold of what I was doing,” said Martin. “I had to switch it up a little bit.”
On Martin’s last standup try, Shelley took a death grip on Martin’s ankle.
“I was thinking at that moment, I have one leg (free), he has a pretty tight grip," Martin said. "I knew time was really close to going down. I just had to kick my leg through and get out.”
Getting out with nine seconds to spare.
Martin’s win was one of two key ‘steals’, if you will, for the Spartans.
Garrett Gehr’s 9-3 victory over Arik Harnish at 126 was the other.
Gehr, just getting back into action after a bout with mononucleosis, came in 2-0, Harnish 15-5.
Gehr scored the first take-down — injuring his knee in the process — but gutted out a 9-3 victory, breaking open a 4-0 match with a 5-point take-down to start the third period.
“I had to push through it and keep pressing,” Gehr said. “It was a team effort. We all came out and wrestled hard, and we got it done.”
They got it done building an 18-point lead, on Gehr’s decision, a decision from Jeremy Schilling and falls from Mason Casey, Josh Groff and Gunner Gehr, after Riley Bonholtzer’s fall opened the proceedings for L-S at 113.
L-S (3-1, 3-1) took four of the next five on falls from Nick Salgado, Brady Cunningham, Logan Davidson and Parker Owens, taking a 30-27 lead — a run interrupted only by Alan Perez’s decision at 170.
The Pioneers' Logan Bradley did a yeoman’s job of staying away from Dustin Swanson’s throws at 220, limiting the Spartans' junior to a 15-5 major, setting the stage for the final two bouts of the night.
Martin’s win put the Pioneers in the position of needing a fall or tech fall at 106, and they sent out junior Austin Reiff, making just his second start of the year, to face freshman Adam Hahn.
Reiff scored twice from neutral, but could never turn Hahn — in fact, Hahn turned Reiff once — his 5-2 win pulling the Pioneers close, but not close enough.