Tyler Hurst battled to catch his breath. Fitting, as the Garden Spot junior’s second-period fall, in the final bout of the night at 215 pounds, left the Spartan faithful breathless.
Hurst’s bar-and-wrist combination delivered the match-winning points as the Spartans (4-1 league, 4-1 overall) put a monkey wrench into the gears of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two race with a 30-24 victory over Donegal Wednesday night in Mount Joy.
“I was nervous,” he said, “I really started to feel the pressure coming. This is probably one of the most under-pressure moments I’ve had with wrestling. I dealt with it pretty well, on the first time doing something like this.”
It appeared the Indians (4-1, 6-4) were going to hold serve in the section — with a head-to-head at co-leader Elizabethtown (4-0, 9-1) on tap next Wednesday — dinking and dunking their way to one-move/two-point victories at 113, 120, 152 and 172.
“I knew, coming in, they were very similar to us,” Spartans coach Adam Bunting said. “I knew there was going to be a lot of tossups, a lot of close matches. They seemed to win most of those close ones.”
Despite that, the Spartans were down just 24-20 with two bouts to go, and Blake Weaver (14-6) knotted things up with an 11-1 major at 189, setting the stage for Hurst (11-4).
He promptly got taken down to his back by Owen Champ (12-7) with time running out in the first period. On the bottom to start the second period, Hurst reversed, and a half-minute later, knifed the armbar, caught the wrist and got the turn. The fall came six seconds later.
“I knew, if he could just get off his back and continue the match,” said Bunting, “if he could get on top, I knew we had a shot. You can see he can get caught in bad position, but when he gets things going in his momentum, he never stops.”
Bunting called it a tit-for-tat match and it played that way. Following a decision by Nicholai Brotzman (20-4) over Mason Musser (9-8) at 285, the Spartans’ Matt Casey (6-6) picked up a fall over Nate Rothstein (3-5) at 106.
Noah Hinkle (18-5) scored a takedown with a minute left to top Adam Hahn (7-5) 6-4 at 113. Mark Overlander (9-6) waited a little longer to score his match-winning takedown on Josiah Smucker (22), executing a low single with nine seconds left in a 4-2 win at 120.
“113 just didn’t go our way,” said Bunting. “Same thing with 120. But I could see as it was materializing, if we could hold the fort at 160 and 172, not give up (bonus), I had confidence in Blake and Tyler.”
The Indians forfeited at 126, Jelani Hale taking the walkover. and Diego Portales (10-7) bumped up to 132 to blank Landon Keller (5-10) 5-0.
Garrett Gehr improved to 16-3 at 138, teching out Landen Baughman (10-8) in four minutes, 17-2, to increase the Spartans’ advantage to 20-9.
Ruben Mumper (14-10) reversed out of a cradle from Brice Brady (76), pinning Brady in 2:54 at 145 to rally the Tribe.
Returning to the lineup after missing five weeks with an injury, the Spartans’ Jeremy Schilling (1-1) looked to create a little thunder of his own at 152, hitting Ian Brown with a Gator Roll takedown for four points. He couldn’t secure the fall, however, and Brown (14-12) battled back to trail 8-6 after a period, securing a 10-8 win with a third-period stalling penalty and escape.
After AJ Small (9-8) topped Jaden Redcay (3-5) 7-3 at 160, Silas Mumper (11-12) crowded Jevon Martin (4-5) to his back for a takedown at the regulation horn to win 5-3 and put the Tribe ahead by four.
“It wasn’t for a lack of effort,” said Indians coach Nick Evans. “It was just little things not going our way. We were a match or two from looking up and celebrating. We’ll go back to work and keep grinding.”