Though the Panthers were missing a few wrestlers Tuesday, it didn’t stop them from putting on a show for the home crowd on senior night.
Featuring all five senior wrestlers, Creston came out victorious, taking down Carroll 42-24, Lewis Central 60-12 and conference-rival Harlan 52-30.
Missing from the action were junior wrestlers Quinten Fuller (220) and Jagger Luther (182), out for a wrist injury and illness, respectively.
“I was really concerned with how that would affect our matchup with Carroll,” head coach Cody Downing said. “They’re just a good match up with us, and I knew we’d really have to pull some upsets off.”
Creston logged 14 pins in 33 matches and had six Panthers undefeated on the night — Christian Ahrens, Trey Chesnut, Austin Evans, Owen Henderson, Kaden Street and Max Chapman.
Creston vs. Carroll
A tough matchup between the Tigers’ state-ranked Jireh Gallegos and Creston’s previously-ranked Will Bolinger, began the dual. After three rounds of battling, Gallegos came out on top with the 8-6 decision.
Some shuffling in the lineup to fill the heavier weight classes put in Tyson Looney at 170 and bumped state-ranked Street up to 182. Looney fell to his opponent in a quick 45 second pin, and Creston was down 9-0 against the Tigers.
Street’s match with Kieran Polking began a much needed change of pace for the Panthers. It wasn’t until the final period that Polking was able to score a point, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 10-1 major decision victory by Street. This cut Carrroll’s lead to 9-4.
Gunner Martwick got the start at 195 as Jackson Kerr was bumped up to 220 to cover the opening left by Fuller.
Martwick was taken down early in the first period by his opponent, Taidyn Peterson, but was able to make the escape and follow it up with a takedown of his own. As the clock ticked down, Martwick continued to work Peterson, finding the pin in 1:48 to thunderous applause from coaches, teammates and the crowd as he pulled off the upset.
The crowd was vocal during the next match, energized by the 10-9 change in lead.
Similar to the start of the previous bout, Kerr was taken down early, but a reversal put Kerr in control of his opponent, Jeep Clark. The pair went into the second period 4-2, but Kerr would pin Clark before the start of the third.
“Our guys, Jackson Kerr and Gunner Martwick stepped up big for us which was good to see,” Downing said. “Not only did they get wins, they got pins which is huge for the team score.”
Chapman, state-ranked at heavy weight, was quick in his 40 second fall over Colton Wieland — opening up the score 22-9.
In the back half of the dual, Kylen Parsons, Lincoln Keeler, Chris Aragon and Milo Staver all fell to their opponents, but one match had the audience on the edge of their seats.
Aragon was down three points in the second period, having been down the entirety of the match. A takedown and near fall points reversed the lead, giving him a 8-6 advantage heading into the final period.
Starting in the bottom position, Aragon’s opponent, state-ranked Cooper Ludwig, was able to escape, narrowing the gap to one point. A takedown against Aragon and his escape tied the score 9-9 with only a minute left to wrestle.
The wrestlers lunged, trying to find a takedown and the lead. Ludwig was able to do so, but Aragon escaped once again. With 20 seconds left, the boys rotated each other, vying for control as the clock ticked down.
In the end, it was Ludwig who scored the takedown and the close decision.
“I think our wrestling’s great,” Downing said. “We were just so close against some of Carroll’s really good wrestlers tonight. So close, we lost a couple late in the third period. A couple times we got behind and had a chance to come back so that was good to see.”
Lane Travis pinned his man in 1:53 and Austin Evans won by technical fall with only nine seconds remaining in their match.
For one senior wrestler, there was a little extra pressure going into his matchup. Chesnut walked out to face Michael Rowedder for a chance to claim his 100th victory on the mat.
After six minutes of wrestling, Chesnut was named the victor in the 7-1 decision and earned his 100th win.
“I was a little nervous coming into the match knowing it could be 100,” Chesnut said. “It feels great. Wrestling in front of my home crowd and all my family coming to see me wrestle on my home mat is pretty cool.”
Creston vs. Lewis Central
The Panthers got out to a quick start against Lewis Central, Bolinger, Street and Martwick leading the way with pins.
The Titans responded with a fall over Kerr and a 3-0 decision over Travis, but forfeits at 285, 113 and 120 opened the lead 36-9.
Keeler, back after injury, had a close victory over Derrick Gregory and Chesnut logged a pin against Jordan Smith.
Downing said it’s good to have Keeler back. “He’s a big part of our team, and it’s nice to have him in the lineup,” he said.
Senior twins Owen and Carter Henderson got the start at 145 and 160, respectively. Owen was able to get the pin in a quick 1:04 matchup, but Carter falling by decision after a difficult battle going into overtime.
“I think we gotta just trust our guys to move them around and give us the best opportunity to win, and that’s what we did tonight,” Downing said. “It was nice to be able to get the Henderson twins in tonight on senior night.”
Staver rounded out points for Creston with a 15-8 decision over Jaylen Davis.
Creston vs. Harlan
In a contradiction to their start against Lewis Central, the Panthers found themselves in a hole early against the Cyclones.
A Creston forfeit at 182 and falls over Martwick and Kerr began the 18-0 Harlan lead.
Creston wouldn’t find their first match win until eight weight classes in, though they already scored from two forfeits.
Keeler broke the winless streak, pinning Shane Noeth in 2:59 - making the score 30-18 in Harlan’s favor.
Creston went undefeated the rest of the dual, Evans, Aragon and Bolinger each pinning their opponents in the first period.
Street closed the night with a 8-0 major decision over Brett Van Baale.
“It was just a balanced attack tonight,” Downing said. “The next step is just to close the gap a little bit. I feel good about our conditioning and our wrestling, I just want to get healthy.”
Next for the Panthers is a tournament Saturday in Clarinda.