TOWAMENCIN >> One of the things that makes sports the best reality show on the planet is the big swing. One moment your favorite team is down, the next they’re celebrating victory, and the opposing team doesn’t know what hit them.
Ryan Cody had a chance to provide that moment for the North Penn wrestling team Wednesday night.
“I knew from the very beginning…that it could come down to the very match can, like any match can,” Cody said. “As it started getting closer I just took some deep breaths and realized that this match was going to be in my hands…Before the match I knew what I had to get done and there was nothing less I wanted to settle for.”
Cody pinned his man with 51 seconds left in the final match of his team’s Suburban One League Continental Conference bout against Pennridge, giving the Knights a 36-35 victory in a thrilling match.
“Tonight was so exciting,” North Penn head coach Robert Shettsline said. “We knew it would be close, we didn’t know it would be that close. That was a great match for the wrestling community. Super exciting. It’s been a while since we’ve had something that exciting.”
In a match that was tight between the two teams in total score, a lot of the individual matches were blowouts. In all there were nine pins and one tech fall through the 14 matches.
Austin Ziegler, Caleb Chae, Colin Shannon, Owen Verespy and Cody all earned pins for North Penn.
John Snyder, Matt Parker (17 seconds into his match), Josh Stillings and Paul O’Neill all pinned their opponents for Pennridge. Evan Widing earned the tech fall for the Rams.
The number of pins made the decision matches even more important. It looked like North Penn was going to take control, after Will Laughlin earned a 2-0 win in overtime of his match in front of an exploding home crowd. Shannon’s pin followed, and the Knights had a 24-17 lead after eight matches.
“Will’s overtime match, that’s getting overshadowed to me,” Cody said. “That was a great match. He really gutted it out to the end and without those points we wouldn’t have won. So it’s a team effort. I’m pretty proud of everyone that wrestled tonight.”
Pennridge seized control after that, however, when Stilings recorded his pin at 160, David Blanchard won an 8-7 decision at 170, and O’Neill recorded his pin at 182. Blanchard’s win came after he trailed 5-2 going into the third period. Quickly, the Rams led 32-24.
Michael Bejan made sure North Penn didn’t capture the same momentum swing his squad did earlier in the match with a dominant 6-0 decision at 195. The Knights found themselves down 35-24 with two bouts left.
“Our big guys knew what they had to do,” Shettsline said. “We had told them just to remind them and they put their heart and soul out there.”
Verespy’s pin at 220 started the momentum and gave North Penn a chance, making the match 35-30 heading into the heavyweight bout. He also sent the crowd into a frenzy.
“After Owen’s pin everyone (was) excited and I knew I needed a pin,” Cody said. “The crowd is loud, and I love it, but it’s all about blocking out the noise from the outside and you really gotta focus on getting it done.”
A great crowd was fired up throughout the final match, with North Penn screaming on one side and Pennridge standing on the other. North Penn’s Cody had a few chances to pin the Rams’ Austin Bishop, with the final count coming at the 51-second mark.
“(A win like this) gives our guys confidence,” Shettsline said. “There’s always learning lessons from this.”
Top Photo: North Penn’s Austin Ziegler has Pennridge’s Stephan Nase in a predicament during their teams’ match on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)