Manning wins final match to hand Knights win over Rams
WYALUSING - A year ago the Towanda Black Knights and Wyalusing Rams went down to the final match of the night to decide a winner.
This year they decided to take things one step further.
Dakoatah Manning of Towanda defeated Warner Mendoza of Wyalusing 14-12 in overtime to hand the Black Knights a 30-26 victory.
The victory locked up the NTL title for Towanda, who also will be the top seed for next week's District 4 Duals.
For Manning it was an amazing feeling when the match ended.
"I just jumped for joy," Manning said. "It was just so exciting, I didn't even know what to do." What made the final match even more exciting was how it started.
Mendoza built a quick lead, scoring 11 points in the opening period to build an 11-4 lead heading into the final period against Manning.
"I just knew I had to win, I couldn't think of anything else," Manning said. "I was down and I thought I have to keep working, I have to keep pushing. He hadn't done anything on his feet and I knew I had to keep pushing at him."
For the wrestlers on the bench it was just as intense just watching the 195 pound match that decided everything.
"The whole time, just watching the final match it was so intense," Towanda's Dayton Wickwire said.
Towanda coach Bill Sexton was impressed with how Manning responded after falling behind big.
"He was down I think 11-3 at one point," Sexton said. "He got caught in two muscle moves early. A lot of lesser guys might have quit in that situation. That shows what kind of wrestler he is."
Sexton was impressed with the effort of his team, and both teams, in the match.
"It was an outstanding effort by both teams," he said. "Wyalusing is the NTL champions until somebody beat them. And, we beat them. We might have won the match, but I don't think anyone was beaten up today. It was a typical Wyalusing match. Things happen that you don't expect. I expected (Steven) Yates to win, and he didn't. And I'm sure they expected (Justin) Haley to win and he didn't."
The match was wrestled in front of a packed house that filled the bleachers and had people lined up against the wall standing for the whole match.
Right before the third period of his match the Towanda bench, and the fans, started chanting Manning's name.
"That got me pumped up," he said. "I forgot I was tired when that happened."
While the Black Knights were on the road Sexton knew the crowd was behind his team.
"We have a great crowd, home or away we have a great crowd," Sexton said. "It might have been an away match, but I think both teams felt like they had the home crowd behind them. It brings out the best in everyone."
The match started out at 220 with the Rams getting the early lead as Dylan Otis pinned Jeremy Sheets in 5:53 to put Wyalusing up 6-0.
While Otis led the entire way, Sheets was in a position to limit the bonus points that the Rams got before Otis turned him late for the pin.
At 285 Dalton Chilston of Wyalusing held off Garrett Pratt for a 2-0 win to bump the Wyalusing lead to 9-0.
The Black Knights got on the board at 106 as Nate Secules won a 13-4 major decision over Taylor Schum to make it 9-4 Wyalusing.
Wyalusing got those points back at 113 as Josh Haley won a 14-0 major decision over Jared Lines to bump the lead up to 13-4.
Towanda came right back at 120 as Nick Secules won a 15-6 major decision over Tracey Brown to make it 13-8.
One of the bigger matches of the night came at 126 where Clay Mosier of Towanda won a 4-2 match over Charles Stretch as Towanda cut the deficit to 13-11.
"I thought the real clincher of this match was at 126 pounds," Sexton said. "You had two kids that have wrestled their butts off this year and not gotten a lot of wins. That was a match that I think we both knew we had to have."
Mosier had faced Stretch last year in a JV tournament and he was anxious to bounce back from a loss to him in that tournament.
"This was really big," Mosier said. "He beat me last year in a JV Tournament. I wanted to redeem myself from that."
Towanda's wrestlers knew that was a big win for the Black Knights.
"That gave us confidence up through the rest of the matches," Justin Sheets said. "That was a big win."
Wyalusing got four points at 132 to extend the lead to 17-11 as Collin Edsell won an 8-0 major decision over D.J. Knolles.
Towanda was docked a team point during the match.
At 138 Wyalusing got a big win as Ryan Force defeated Yates 9-3 to put the Rams up 20-10 with six weights left in the match.
Towanda came back at 145 as Tristan Decker got a 6-0 win over Justin Haley to make it 20-13 and Towanda cut the deficit to 20-19 as Justin Sheets pinned Austin Shaffer in 2:33 at 152.
Shaffer came out strong in the early going and the Black Knights knew how important it was that Sheets came back in the second period to get the fall.
"I thought 52 was a match that we should get a fall," Sexton said. "Shaffer did a heck of a job in the first period and all of a sudden you are thinking you might not get those points. Just did a great job in the second period."
Sheets knew that he needed to get the fall for the Black Knights.
"It was big," he said. "I knew we needed the bonus points."
After Sheets win Breycin Fulmer followed with an 8-3 win over Ryan Kipp at 160 as the Black Knights took their first lead 22-20.
Towanda extended that lead to 27-20 at 170 as Dayton Wickwire won by technical fall 15-0 in 6:00 over Taylor Armitage. Wickwire got the final points as the third period ended to push his result up to a technical fall.
"I just kept pushing, I knew it was real important," Wickwire said.
Sexton knew that Wyalusing was trying to avoid a fall at 152 and 170, just as the Black Knights had tried at 220 and 285.
"It was the same thing in Dayton's match as Justin's," Sexton said. "The kids were trying to survive and avoid giving up the bonus points. We did the same thing against Otis and Chilson."
Wyalusing came back at 182 with a fall of their own as Justin Griffith pinned Dalton Claupein in 2:26 to cut the deficit to 27-26, setting the stage for Manning's match with Warner.
"As soon as they said the match was starting at 220 my teammates were saying it's going to come down to you," Manning said.
For the wrestlers this match was like nothing they have experienced before.
"I've never been a part of anything as fun as this," Manning said.
As a first year varsity wrestler Mosier enjoyed his chance to be a part of the match.
"It was very special," he said.
Sexton knows his team has been in big moments, just nothing with quite like Saturday night.
"We have been in big matches before, just not any as dramatic as this," he said. "The kids knew what needed to be done tonight."
A year ago the Rams came into Towanda's gym and Brown defeated Kyle Blascak in the final match of the day to get the victory and claim the NTL large-school title.
For Towanda it was nice to get a little redemption this year.
"It was nice to come down here and beat a team that had come to our gym and beat us on the final match last year," Wickwire said.
The District 4 Duals will begin on Wednesday and both Towanda and Wyalusing will host matches. Towanda is set to be the number one seed, while Wyalusing is the number three seed.
For the Black Knights the win on Saturday will help their confidence going into the event.
"This is a huge confidence booster," Wickwire said.
There were a number of JV matches that took place and Keegan Kisner, Larry Nichols, Christian Thomasen, Mitch Peters and Dusty Crayton won JV matches for Towanda. Dawson Otis, Ray Hallet and Jacob Sandfort won JV matches for the Rams.