Most of the time, any matchup of number one vs number two is more about the hype than the actual contest. How many Super Bowls have been blowouts? Just look to what Alabama did to LSU in the BCS Championship game. Going into the dual match between top ranked Blair Academy from New Jersey and St. Edward, there was that same hype. However, this time, it more than lived up to the hype..
Oh boy, did it ever…
Blair led 24-22 going into the final match. At 132 pounds, Blair sent the nation’s top wrestler at that weight, Mark Grey, to the mat. St. Edward countered with projected state champion and the sixth ranked wrestler in the country in junior Edgar Bright. At the end of the first period, there was some controversy, as Bright took down Grey, but the referre ruled that it was after the period ended. Both wrestlers fought to a 1-1 draw through three periods and an overtime. In the second overtime, Grey managed an escape with 16 seconds remaining, to secure the 3 points and a Blair victory.
In a quote to LehighValley.com, Blair coach Jeff Buxton summed up the night and the respect each team has for each other:
“St. Ed’s is a great team and this is a great win for us. We felt good knowing that if it came down to (Mark) Grey at the end he would get us the win”
St. Edward coach Greg Urbas felt the same way:
“The 132 pound match was a thriller all the way. The whole dual was a classic. It was a brawl, and great for wrestling”.
Not only were bragging rights at stake for the winner, but also a chance to claim the national championship, which was a goal of St. Edward when the season started. St. Edward was coming into the dual on a high note, after winning “The Clash” dual tournament over the New Year’s weekend, and hoped to take that momentum into finally getting their chance at Blair.
The dual was as classic and as tight as they get. Blair won the first three matches by razor thin decision and raced to a 9-0 lead. Then through the middle and upper weights, St. Edward flexed their muscles. The Eagles got a win from Dominic Abounader, a majority decision from Mike Martin, and an overtime win from Ty Walz, taking the lead at 13-12.
The lead continued to sesaw back and forth until the final match at 132. At 126, Dean Heil (who commited to wrestle at Oklahoma State next year) won his match 4-1, pulling the Eagles to within two points at 24-22, and setting the stage for the classic 132 pound final match.
For the Eagles, they were one escape away from claiming the national championship. One takedown here, or one takedown there from winning the dual. What we learned is that indeed these are the two best teams in the country, and as far as number one vs number twos go, it doesnt get much better than double overtime to determine the winner.