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Wrestling Hornets turn back Benton at home Tuesday

Five-straight contested wins to open match power 54-20 triumph

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Bryce Dominique, Chillicothe High School sophomore, tries to further his first-period advantage on St. Joseph: Benton’s Brian Deatherage in their 152-pounds bout that concluded Tuesday’s CHS home match. Although the hosts already had clinched victory in the team competition, Dominique put a punctuation mark on the triumph – the Hornets’ 15th dual win of the 2020-21 season – by pinning Deatherage at 2:39, closing out a 54-20 victory.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

In one of the busier dual matches of this COVID-19-hamstrung 2020-21 high school wrestling season for the Chillicothe Hornets, CHS began the night with five victories in a row and eight out of nine against visiting St. Joseph: Benton on the Hornets’ way to their 15th dual win of the campaign, 54-20, Tuesday night.

Losing only one contested bout between Brody Cairns’ win by fall in 1:21 in the match opener at 160 pounds and Justin Pyle’s late comeback decision triumph at 132, the Chillicothe boys dominated the visiting Cardinals.

The CHS matmen, along with the rest of their conference brethren, will visit Benton Saturday for the Midland Empire Conference boys’ championships.

Tuesday’s home win left the 2020-21 Hornets with a 15-7 record, meaning history could be made on the road next week and/or in the home finale slated for Feb. 2.

This year’s victories total pushes seventh-year head coach Chad Smith’s CHS wins total to 133, three less than Doug Long amassed in his two stints as Hornets mat chief from 1977-95 and again in 1999-2000, an era when the wrestling schedule had significantly fewer duals and total competitions.

With the Hornets facing St. Joseph: Lafayette and Savannah on the road Thursday and visiting Trenton on Tuesday of next week, a sweep of those would pull Smith even. A single loss in any of those three duals would make the Jan. 28 road double-dual with Macon and Palmyra the potential historic night for the current coach to pull even and/or become the program’s all-time leader in coaching wins.

Should those five matches (assuming all take place) generate three or less team wins, the Hornets’ final home appearance of the season against Marceline and Centralia early next month could be the “big night” when some CHS wrestling history is made.

At this point, with eight dual matches still remaining on the slate, it seems highly likely that the current Hornets will provide their coach with the necessary victories for him to ascend to No. 1 this season.

Tuesday’s 15th triumph of 2020-21 became almost inevitable before Benton even tasted victory.

Freshman middleweight Cairns’ rapid finish in the first bout of the night set a tone that his heavier teammates not only picked up on, but kept improving on after sophomore Dawson Sutton posted a 5-2 victory at 170, scoring all of his points in the second period on a reversal and 3-points near-fall.

Sophomore Brock Miller finished his 182-pounds bout in a mere 44 seconds, but classmate Lucas Reynolds figuratively sniffed at that and pinned his 195-pounds foe in only 29 for a 21-0 CHS lead.

Not to be out-shone by younger teammates, junior Wade Horton registered the quickest finish of the night, sticking his 220-pounds BHS opponent after only 24 seconds.

Down 27-0 and knowing that Chillicothe would be getting six free points at 126 pounds, due to a Benton open weight there, Cardinals heavyweight Kevin Machado finally got the guests on the scoreboard with a 16-7 major decision over Christian Peniston.

The interruption in the CHS run of wins not only proved temporary.

Hornets freshman Joel Edwards, filling in for Lane McCoy at 106 pounds, took a comparatively long time, given what many of his larger teammates had been doing, before winning by fall at 1:23, putting the home team one win away in the remaining five contested bouts from mathematically clinching the match win.

The wait didn’t take long.

Fittingly, team leader and 2020 state medalist Sheldon Rader put his team out of Benton’s reach with a pin of his opponent only seven seconds after the second period of their 113-pounds bout began.

After a forfeit for each team at 120 and 126, Justin Pyle became the third Chillicothe freshman to savor the sweet taste of varsity victory on the night when he scrambled from behind to claim the 132-pounds division.

Pyle had the bout’s first takedown and was tied 4-4 after his second takedown of the battle early in the third period. However, Benton’s Angelo Barron seemed to take control by making an escape and then getting his own takedown for a 7-4 lead.

However, as the bout moved closer to its 6-minutes finish, Pyle managed his own reversal to get within a point and followed up on the control he’d gained by getting the Cardinals to his back for the necessary 5-count to earn three near-fall points. That put him in front 9-7 and that’s where Pyle stayed.

Benton earned a win by fall and a major decision at 138 and 145 pounds, respectively, but CHS sophomore Bryce Dominique provided a fitting ending to the evening by closing out the 152-pounds action in 2:39, the Hornets’ seventh win by pin on the night.

There was no junior-varsity or girls’ action on the evening.