EAST MOLINE -- The Western Big 6 Conference wrestling season came to a thrilling conclusion Saturday.|
And, appropriately, the league title was decided by a pair of state-ranked teams -- the No. 25 Quincy Blue Devils and the No. 24 Moline Maroons.
As close as they are in the state ratings ended up being as razor-thin as their winner-take-all dual was at the Panther Den -- a one-point difference going to the Maroons, 33-32.
That gave Moline (5-0 WB6) it's first Big 6 crown since 2010.
It took a pair of extraordinary efforts to get back on that throne, too.
The match that saved Moline's day was the final one at 132 pounds. Will Seaman's resiliency proved to be the difference in the dual when he refused to get pinned, holding off Michael Peters in the final 30 seconds in a loss by technical fall.
Being the recipient of a tech fall doesn't sound glorious, but it's worth five points for the opposition, whereas Quincy needed the six for a pin to tie the Maroons and force a team decision on criteria.
"When Will (Seaman) was fighting, it was amazing," Adarios Jones said. "There's never been a moment in my wrestling career where everything was oblivious to me. He knew with an inch more he was going to be pinned. The last two seconds he smiled and shook his head, because he knew what he had just done."
The tooth-and-nail finale all started in the third bout against the Blue Devils (4-1 WB6).
Austin Ventris battled Bryce Carter in the 152-pound class. Neither Ventris nor Carter had an advantage through two periods. Finally, Carter took Ventris down to jump ahead 2-0.
With 20 seconds left in the third frame, Ventris reversed a Carter pin attempt to tie it up at two. He then assumed control over Carter with less than 10 seconds left to go ahead, 5-2, to claim a hard-fought decision.
"It came down to the wire," said Ventris. "You always love to win those matches. It almost feels better to get that close than to blow him out."
Moline's senior leader, Jones, played a big role in the win as well.
The team's were tied at 18, before Jones and Trenton Jackson (106) put together back-to-back pins to give the Maroons a 30-18 advantage.
"In a dual meet situation, we count on him (Jones) in big points situations," said Moline coach Todd Thompson. "Trenton Jackson has come a long way in the last two years from being a `Fargo qualifier' (to the Junior Greco-Roman National Championships in N.D.)."
United Township (2-3 WB6) was the only roadblock left for Moline after the Quincy dual, but the Maroons easily topped the hosts, 51-18 to win the conference crown outright.
Austin Vanscoy (170) and Seaman earned the only Moline victories by pin.
UT's Tate Buller was victorious in all three of his bouts at 182 pounds Saturday -- two by pin, the other by 8-2 decision against Quincy's Tyree Williams.
However, the Panthers were only 1-2 on the day, beating Galesburg (40-27) but also falling to Quincy (56-21).
"We could have been better,'' Buller said. "I thought I started slow in my first match. The second one (against Galesburg), I came out with a pin and by the time we faced Moline, I was ready to go."
Heavyweight Travis Miller also earned three win for the Panthers. Miller's first was an pin fall against Quincy followed by an 11-0 major decision against Galesburg and a 4-2 decision against Moline's Dalton Stracner.
UT senior Jeronnie Steward (113) earned pin fall wins against Quincy and Galesburg before taking a forfeit win against the Maroons.
"As a team, we wrestled alright," Steward said. "Some kids could have wrestled better, but they're young. They've got time to improve."
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