ROTTERDAM — It’s always great to beat a rival, but such a win is extra sweet in front of your home crowd, on senior night — and, especially, when there is a lot of bling on the line.
Mohonasen coach Brandon Guthrie stepped up his school's wrestling rivalry with Schalmont, purchasing a faux jewel-encrusted belt to award to the winner of the Rotterdam teams' annual Colonial Council matchup.
“Last year, my first year, we went to Schalmont, we won and it was like this little, rinky-dink trophy, which to me just didn't feel right for a crosstown rivalry,” Guthrie said. “So we stepped it up with a belt.”
His faith — and monetary investment — in his Mighty Warriors paid off, as they outdid Schalmont 56-27 Thursday night in the "Battle For The Belt."
The evening's enthusiastic crowd saw the evening kick off with local American Idol star Madison VanDenburg sing the national anthem before watching her half-brother, Clayton O’Connor, earn one of five forfeit wins awarded to Mohonasen before the early matches got underway.
With a guaranteed 36-point lead due to the uncontested matches by Schalmont, the Warriors took the match and the belt from there, tacking on five additional wins.
In one of the night's most-competitive matches, Mohonasen senior Derek Lagasse outlasted Sabres junior Nick Noble, earning an 8-5 decision at 145 pounds.
“I try to get a little lead early on so then later in the match I can kind of chill out, pace myself and then it usually ends up working out pretty well,” Lagasse said.
Thursday’s win wasn’t easy, though, for Lagasse to earn. Leading 7-3 through the first two periods, Noble pulled closer with a takedown with 23 seconds left.
“We don't usually have a big crowd, so, a night like tonight, it meant a lot [to have] everyone out there,” Lagasse said. “I found some motivation I usually don't have sometimes.”
Mohonasen senior Camrin Russell earned a forfeit victory at 285 and classmate David Thompson fell to Sabres’ junior Zachary Questel in 1:40 in the 152-pound match.
Supporting the seniors, Mohonasen seventh-grader Nico Rivera pinned Schalmont freshman Caden Noble at 2:51. After escaping from the bottom position, Rivera took advantage of his strengths, going for a single-leg takedown that became a double-leg takedown.
“Before, I did that to him, and he went straight to his back — so I knew if I caught his arm I was going to be able to pin him.”
Schalmont coach Vinnie Gallo was willing to concede the belt — for now.
In the future? That's a different story.
“We're a young team and I'm only graduating two guys, so the future is bright for us,” Gallo said. “The future is bright for them because they have a lot of numbers and this should be a good battle for the next couple of years.”
Mohonasen 56, Schalmont 27
220: Curcio (M) by forfeit. 285: Russell (M) by forfeit. 99: Hill (M) by forfeit. 106: O'Connor (M) by forfeit. 113: Murphy (S) dec. Reohr, 7-5. 120: Rivera (M) pinned C. Noble, 2:51. 126: Tebano (M) tech fall Vandenburg, 6:00. 132: Nardini (S) pinned Zwetschek, 1:29. 138: Stuart (S) pinned LaRoe, 0:29. 145: Lagasse (M) dec. N. Noble, 8-5. 152: Questel (S) pinned Thompson, 1:40. 160: Pease (M) pinned Cavanaugh, 2:43. 170: Leon (S) pinned Lofstrom, 0:58. 182: Payton (M) by forfeit. 195: Rogers (M) by forfeit.