Levi Ashley couldn’t do a thing to prevent Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake from snapping Shenendehowa’s 62-match winning streak in Suburban Council wrestling a year ago.
So when he had a chance to shut the door on the Spartans on Tuesday night, he was more than up to the challenge.
Ashley, the returning state runner-up at 195 pounds, pinned Taylor Russell in the second period of their bout at that weight, giving the Plainsmen an insurmountable nine-point lead with one weight class remaining in what finished as a 39-34 Shenendehowa win.
“It fired me up. I got sick, and I wasn’t able to be here last year,” said Ashley, a senior tri-captain who was coming off a first-place finish at the Clyde Cole Invitational. “Coach told me if I pinned, it was done. As a captain and a senior, it felt good to step up and get the job done.”
Unlike last year’s match at Burnt Hills, when the Spartans ran off to a 37-0 lead, Tuesday night’s early-season showdown between the two best teams in the SC saw swings in momentum.
“We were able to get that big lead last year,” said Burnt Hills senior Joey Butler, a returning state bronze medalist. “I like blowout wins, but close matches can be good, too. Everyone seems more into every match.
“They just came out on top.”
“Different kids, different lineups,” said Spartans coach Steve Jones of the biggest difference in this year’s match. “They had their full lineup tonight, and were able to take advantage of some moves that worked for them.
“This had a lot more swings than last year.”
One of the biggest changes was Shen coach Rob Weeks getting junior Jesse Porter to weigh in in excess of 160 pounds, making him a 170-pounder, and also qualifying him for 182.
Porter, who had three All-America finishes in the past two years at the the Cadet and Junior Nationals, stopped the momentum Burnt Hills had gained when Jake Ashcraft pinned at 170 to put the visitors up, 31-30.
Porter, who missed the 2013 postseason with an injury, defeated Anthony Papa, a returning sectional finalist by a 7-3 scored at 182, to make it 33-31 Shen, setting up Ashley’s chance to clinch.
“He bumped up a lot,” said Ashley of his teammate, who was the 160-pound champ at the Cole.
“Anthony Papa is a sectional runner-up and a good wrestler, so that was a good win. It was good motivation for my match.”
Weeks had discussed the bump in weight with the 11th-grader previously.
“That was a strategic move with Jesse,” Weeks said. “We thought about that last week. I don’t think they even thought about that as an option. I think that caught them on their heels a little bit.
“When I talked with him the last couple of days, and asked him, ‘Where do you want to be?’ and ‘Who do you want to wrestle?’, he told me to put him anywhere.
“There’s a lot that goes into a match before it even happens. He had to drink water to get there.”
Burnt Hills took a 12-4 lead on pins by Roz Warren (in the 285-pound match opener) and Christian Gramuglia, but Shenendehowa stayed within reach.
The momentun swung Shen’s way when Kevin Guardino and Jordan Maynard pinned at 126 and 132, respectively, Jonah Fulger won by decision at 138, and sectional finalist Kevin Parker pinned at 145, putting Shenendehowa ahead, 30-16.
Nate Sisler won between a tech fall by Butler at 152 and Ashcraft’s pin to give Burnt Hills a two-point advantage.
“Our kids wrestled exceptionally well. That was the difference,” said Weeks. “We won the matches big that we need to win. We kept it close against their studs, and we squeezed out a victory. When the dust settled, I think we had some things fall our way, and I’ll take it.”
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 34
285 — Roz Warren (BH) pinned Jordan Gougler, 2:47; 99 — Mike DiMonda (S) dec. Artem Smith, 11-3; 106 — Christian Gramuglia (BH) pinned Jake McGrail. :36; 113 — Dietrich Hartman (S) technical fall over Danny Jada, 17-2; 120 — Jackson Lindberg (BH) dec. Kieran Kaufman, 11-3; 126 — Kevin Guardino (S) pinned Steve Wagner, 4:17; 132 — Jordan Maynard (S) pinned Austin Rowinski, 1:01; 138 — Jonah Fulger (S) dec. Mason Rabideau, 7-2; 145 — Kevin Parker (S) pinned Ricky Rodriguez, 1:18; 152 — Joey Butler (BH) technical fall over Ryan Betts, 16-0; 160 — Nate Sisler (BH) dec. Anthony Dinallo, 13-2; 170 — Jake Ashcraft (BH) pinned Nick Joseph, :38; 182 — Jesse Porter (BH) dec. Anthony Papa, 7-3; 195 — Levi Ashley (S) pinned Taylor Russell, 2:45; 220 — Nico Fragale (BH) dec. Kevin Leonard, 7-5.