NORMAN — Can the hardwood Clashes yet to come be this good, too?
That has to be the question following an amazing Thursday night at Norman North, where the rebuilding Timberwolves proved at least slightly ahead of schedule, coming back more than once to stop Norman High 28-26
Long the dominant wrestling program in town, North had won 13 of 15 Crosstown Clash duals coming into the night, yet one of those two losses came last season when coach Bo Maynes’ Tigers finally turned the tables on the T-Wolves.
Thursday was supposed to be an uphill battle for the T-Wolves yet again and it played out just that way when the Tigers led 11-0 after three bouts and 14-4 after five.
Then North’s Kevin Reamey made it 14-7 in the 138-pound bout and Blake Basham followed by setting the gym on fire with a 9-4 stunner over NHS’ Colin Pasque at 145.
That put in motion a string of six straight bout victories for the T-Wolves, who scored 21 consecutive team points to lead 25-14.
And still, it came down to the heavyweights, North’s Austin McTrusty and NHS’ Jake Stinson.
As they shook hands to begin their bout, NHS was back on top 26-25 following a forfeit at 195 and a pin from Nick Webb over North’s Derric Hopkins at 220.
McTrusty was an honest young man when it was over, admitting, “I don’t like that pressure,” of the entire rivalry riding on the last bout — his — of the night.
Nonetheless, down 2-0 late in the second period, he broke free and took down Stinson, almost simultaneously, about three seconds before the period buzzer.
“He was trying to throw me, trying to toss me,” McTrusty said. “And out of instinct I threw his arm over and got the takedown.”
The atmosphere in the gym for McTrusty’s and Stinson’s final period was surreal, as the majority of both student sections, watching diagonally from each other while the grapplers occupied center court, came down to the floor, becoming almost as much a part of the action as each program’s herd of assistant coaches.
McTrusty started on bottom, but Stinson let him up hoping to tie the match with a takedown. The heavyweights locked up several times, each time releasing and starting over. All the way, McTrusty shunned each advance.
First-year North coach Greg Henning, who’d been out of the mat game for six years after winning five state titles and six Dual State crowns in 21 years of running Tuttle’s mat program, liked his grapplers’ grit.
“We made a lot of technical mistakes, but we had a large heart,” he said. “You can correct technique, but you can’t correct a guy that doesn’t give all he has … We fought like the Timberwolves that we are.”
If McTrusty won it, Basham picked up the night’s biggest assist, upsetting Pasque by accumulating an escape, a takedown and a near fall over the last minute or so of the third period.
Pasque, ranked No. 7 at 138 but one of three Tigers grappling up a weight as a result of Isaiah Davis’ shoulder injury (along with Jeffrey Adams and Sam Richison), had been the aggressor most of the match, yet only led 2-1 after two periods. He was up 4-2 after a takedown before Basham turned the bout round.
“I was just looking for a takedown and it opened up,” Basham said. “It’s pretty satisfying.”
It was that result that seemed to change the atmosphere in the gym. It lit a fire under the T-Wolves who followed with a technical fall from David Stanley at 152, a decision from Than Nguyen at 160, a decision from Eric Fredricks at 170 and a major decision from Josh Bradley at 182.
NHS had built its lead by getting major decisions from Nigel Jolliffie at 103 and Derek Ross at 113. Lucas Stanfield’s 8-3 decision at 120 made it 11-0 Tigers.
Hayden Hansen finally put North on the board with a major decision at 126, before Jeffrey Adams put NHS up 10 points with a 2-1 besting of Austin Wright at 132.
Then it got crazy.
Even in defeat, NHS coach Bo Maynes knew something pretty cool had taken place.
“This is probably an historic dual,” he said. “It was low scoring, high intensity, an emotional roller coaster. I’ll bet the fans enjoyed it a lot. For the wrestling community, it was a great thing.”
Really, for anybody who walked through the door.
Clay HorningFollow me @email@example.com