MOUNT VERNON — There’s no better way to start a wrestling season than at home.
On Saturday, The Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets finished third as a team in the 17th annual Wazie Invitational wrestling tournament at Mount Vernon High School.
“I wanted to be selfish. I wanted at least eight (wrestlers) in the finals,” Mount Vernon head coach John Brown said. “But for a starting tournament, this was pretty good. . . . We haven’t had a lot of time to work out.”
Two individuals won their weight class for the Yellow Jackets. One of them, in the 171-pound weight class, was involved in the most talked-about final of the day: Jordan Montgomery versus Matt Lybarger, teammate versus teammate.
Montgomery, a senior, was a prohibitive favorite going into the tournament. Lybarger, a freshman, has incredible lower-body strength and was expected to challenge for the title.
The challenge turned into a thriller.
Lybarger’s one-point lead was reversed by Montgomery’s two-point takedown in the second period. By the third period, the two combatants were tied, 3-3.
With seconds left, Montgomery got behind Lybarger and was able to take him down, scoring two points with one second showing on the clock. Lybarger, who held his shoulder in pain, had no chance to recover.
“(Jordan) did a nice job against one of our top freshmen,” Brown said. “The difference in their match is that Jordan took more shots.”
“I’m really proud of how I competed,” Montgomery said, “but I’m super proud of Matt. For a freshman to come out and compete the way he did today, he deserves all the credit. It’s unbelievable.”
After the match, Lybarger was inconsolable, not speaking to anyone for minutes.
“Matt did an outstanding job as a freshman. He was very disappointed he lost, because he felt he was in the match, which he was,” Brown said.
“A lot of people thought that, because he’s a freshman, he didn’t belong on the mat,” Montgomery said. “But he’ll be the best wrestler in Mount Vernon High in a long time, and he does belong on that mat. And he’ll be a three-time Wazie champion. I‘m sure proud of him.”
The other victory in a final came from Collin Riley, who dominated in all five of his matches in the 135-pound weight class. Three of his victories came via pinfall. In the final, he scored two quick points on West Branch’s Chad Hupp, then held on for the 2-0 victory.