BYRON - Harvard juggled its lineup and battled tough but could not overcome the strong middle weights in Mercer County’s lineup that included three state place winners.
The Hornets season ended with a 34-22 loss to the Golden Eagles at the Byron Dual Team Sectional on Tuesday.
After going 10-0 after two matches, Harvard came back, winning the next six matches to go up 22-10. But that was all the Hornets could muster and of those six wins only two had bonus points.
Sergio Exquivel scored a 9-0 major decision at 113 pounds and Chance Shelton pinned his opponent at 132 in 1:09. Adam Freimund at 285, Reiss Bielsi (106), Anthony Luis (120) and Irvin Pena (126) all won by decision.
Harvard moved a number of wrestlers up in weight to try and get as many team points as possible. Luis bumped up to 120 from 106, where he won an individual state title on Saturday, Christian Kramer (145) and Matthew Wheeler (170) both bumped up two classes and Irvin Pena (126), Travis Heck (160) both went up a weight.
Heck had state qualifier Devin Morford on his back in the first period to go up, 4-0, but could not hold the lead, losing 10-8.
“I just caught [Morford] in that first period,” Heck said. “I just knew I had to stay after him.”
Harvard coach Tim Haak said he was impressed with how his wrestlers competed after giving up a lot of weight.
“Our kids competed well. We had to bump around," Haak said. “We put our state champion against their (120) pounder and their state qualifier we had him on his back.”
At 170, Matthew Wheeler held Mercer’s Jon Ricke, who placed sixth at state, to a major decision. After the first period, Wheeler was up, 6-5 on two takedowns and back points. And Harvard’s Coty Reilly at 138 avoided getting pinned by Tristen Finch, who placed second at state, losing by technical fall.
“Where they’re strong we competed well,” Haak said. “There’s a lot of positives. There’s no negatives.”
Shelton said they went in with a team focus.
“We didn’t want to give up any team (bonus) points,” Shelton said. “We tried our best in their strong weight classes.”
Shelton, a senior, said what he will remember most about his experiences wrestling at Harvard are not individual matches or even team wins. What he will remember is the camaraderie and the closeness of the team.
“It’s been amazing,” Shelton said. “Everybody’s like family.”
Even though they came up short against Mercer County, Haak takes a broader approach and looks at how far they have come, not how it ended.
“Three months ago we wouldn’t have been able to compete with these guys,” Haak said.