What might develop into one of the more successful seasons in Perry wrestling history started in promising fashion Thursday as the host Bluejays topped Roland-Story, 44-30, and Gilbert, 42-40.
Perry had to fight back to take the win from Gilbert in the final dual of the meet. Trailing 34-24 with four matches left, the Bluejays were given a forfeit at 113, with a Kaleb Olejniczak pin of Grant Gardner in 53 seconds at 106 moving the hosts into a 36-34 lead.
Both mats were used for the final matches, with 120-pounders Fernando Catalan and 126-pounder Gisaveri Niyibizi simultaneously in action. Niyibizi pinned Eric Davis in 1 minute, 23 seconds to seal the win, at 42-34, with a loss by fall allowing the Tigers to finish just two points back, at 42-40.
Eleven of Perry’s wins Thursday came by pinfall, a point head coach Trevor Kittleson was quick to note.
“If we don’t get those bonus points for pins we are not going to win many duals, and tonight was a perfect example — if just one win by pin against Gilbert is a win by decision instead, we lose 40-39,” he said. “Our guys came out and were aggressive and I was pleased to see that.”
“I was also pleased that we had something like 10 guys, between the varsity and junior varsity, who got their first high school win tonight, and I am proud of all of them,” Kittleson added. “We competed hard and that is what I always tell them: go as hard as you can and the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
Junior 170-pounder Adan Medina impressed his coach Thursday with a pair of pins.
“Adan has not wrestled for several years and we were happy to have him come out,” Kittleson said. “He is a good athlete and strong kid and it was great to see him start with a pair of wins, especially with both of them pins.”
Eli Saemisch (182 pounds) also had a pair of pinfall victories, as did Olejniczak, who won in nine seconds in his first varsity match before needing 53 seconds to win his second. Fifth-ranked Zach Thompson (113) received a pair of forfeits, with Niyibizi winning by fall against Gilbert and by technical fall (17-2, 2:16) against Roland-Story.
Ivan Garcia had a win at 132 against Gilbert, with Zach Stewart claiming a 12-5 decision against R-S at 132. Jacob Thompson (145) wrestled once, defeating R-S grappler Will Halstead, 13-11. Troy Jahnke won by fall and by a 3-0 decision at 152, with Tanner Darr finishing 1-1 with a pin against R-S at 160 pounds.
Kittleson is a former St. Ansgar standout and will lead his Perry squad back to his old haunts Saturday for a dual-team tournament.