UTICA — The Utica wrestling team picked up a pair of important wins on Wednesday night, as they knocked off visiting Loudonville (60-19) and Johnstown (72-11) in separate duals.
The win against Loudonville was particularly sweet for Utica wrestling coach Mike Garven, who has seen his teams finish second to Loudonville in the MBC too often in the past several years.
“We have to win two more matches, but Loudonville was what I was really worried about,” said Garven. “We beat them in ’04 and that had been the last time.”
The East Knox Bulldogs got much needed wins as they also beat Johnstown (39-36) and Loudonville (42-30) to up their seeding the MBC tournament at the end of the regular season.
“It means a lot,” said East Knox coach Keith Kaufmann. “The situation of incomplete teams have kind of made that happen, too. I was proud of our kids the way they wrestled.”
Utica has been known, in recent years, for the overall strength of their wrestling teams. Their best wrestlers, however, have come from the upper half of the weight divisions. Once again in 2011, the Redskins bring a solid all-around team to the wrestling mats. But this year, it’s the smaller guys who are leading the way.
“For the first time the lower weight classes are carrying the bigger part of the load,” said Garven. “We don’t have the one superstar but, overall, we have one of the best dual meet teams I’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Last year, Dylan Flecter was no threat to surpass 103 pounds as a freshman, but this year is a different story.
“He won the Licking County tournament right before Christmas,” said Garven. “Last year, he only weighed 88 pounds. This year, he had to lose weight to make 103.”
Along with the size has come the weight, strength and skill to give the Redskins their best light weight in some time. His only loss this season came while wrestling up at 112.
Michael Pellekler, who has yet to make weight at 112, continues to work his way down. He has no place to go with Andrew Gayheart at 119. When Pellekler does make weight, the Redskins will be even deadlier in the lower weight classes.