NORTH EAST — Corry’s Austin Gillihan and Michael Pollard both had something to prove at the 30th North East Wrestling Tournament.
Gillihan has missed much of the season after coming down with mononucleosis. Pollard, a pinning machine, was somehow seeded second.
In the end, Gillihan (119 pounds) and Pollard (189) stood tall on the podium after impressive showings in the finals, Gillihan collecting his 100th career win.
Those two efforts helped the Beavers finish one half point ahead of Saegertown and in third place behind runaway winner Fort LeBoeuf and runner-up Sharon.
Jake Kondrlik (145) was Corry’s other finalist, settling for second place losing to four-time NE champ Jordan Moss who placed third at states a year ago.
“We need to find a way to wrestle better on the first night of tournament action,” said coach Skip Laird. “We really dug a hole but thankfully the kids responded with a great effort on Saturday.
“We had a good finals and consifinals losing only at 145 and 215,” he noted. “We had wins at 119, 130, 171 and 189.
“That effort combined with Saegertown only winning one bout allowed us to catch and pass them for third,” he noted. “It was better than I expected, especially after a tough Friday.”
Dustin Taubert was third at 171 pounds, Nash Walters fourth at 215 and Kevin Kerr with fifth at 130.
Gillihan set the table and Pollard frosted the cake.
“I was hoping to get a couple back points to get the lead,” Gillihan said following his 7-0 decision over Saegertown’s Sean Byham, a match in which he used a headlock to put his foe on his back in the opening 30 seconds, taking a 5-0 lead. A takedown in period two closed out the scoring.
“This ranks pretty high, after I place at states it will be second,” Gillihan stated. “I’m still a little out of shape, recovering from mono. I’ve missed a couple big tournaments.
“My goal is still to place at states,” he claimed. “A District 10 championship would be nice, but I have a tough weight class. We’ll see what happens.
“My goal from last year when I had 75 wins was to get to 100,” Gillihan said. “There’s a couple big things left.”
Pollard, 30-1 entering the tourney with over 100 career pins, didn’t particularly care for the No. 2 seed behind Fairfax, Virginia’s Jordan Yost. Pollard won by pin 1:13, :25 and 2:14 to make the finals.
Against Yost, he scored the first takedown and nearfall for a quick 5-0 lead. After an escape, Pollard added two more first-period takedowns for a 9-2 advantage.
In the second stanza, another takedown and nearfall made it 14-2. Pollard ended it with a takedown and third nearfall for a 19-2 technical fall with 1:10 left on the clock.
"I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, so I focused on beating the number one seed," Pollard was quoted.
Is Pollard peaking?
“All our guys are right where we expect them to be but we need to begin to ramp up our training for the postseason,” said Laird.
Kondrlik couldn’t contend with the speedy Moss who is headed to the University of Pittsburgh. Moss led 2-1 after one period and 5-1 after two following a second takedown. He added two more TDs in the third for a 9-3 decision.
As a four-time tourney champ, he joined the likes of Corry’s Shane McChesney and Harbor Creek’s Jeff Catrabone.
In third-place matches, Dustin Taubert trailed Sharpsville’s Phil Bucher 1-0 when he scored a reversal with 1:31 to go and rode him out for the 2-1 win.
At 215, Walters faced former Corry Kids wrestler Matt Mongera of Seneca. Mongera had taken Union City’s Jared Burger to overtime last week before bowing. Both wrestlers had won three straight and stood 4-1 before the bout.
Mongera escaped in the second period and prevailed, 1-0.
Kerr went 4-2 as he majored Fairfax’s Mitch McGinty, 12-0.
Freshman Daniel Scouten had two pins at 135 before bowing out, 4-3.
Jesse Preisler (152) wound up on crutches after injuring his foot on Friday, joining Zac Morris on the disabled list.
Corry has some time to heal up and prepare for the District 10 Team Duals set for Feb. 2 at Edinboro University. Those pairings have not yet been announced.