STE. GENEVIEVE — With two similar wrestling teams in North County and Ste. Genevieve clashing on Wednesday evening, the results of each individual match were expected to be crucial.
But fans in attendance received an added bonus near the conclusion of the dual, when the grueling 189-pound bout not only proved pivotal to the final outcome, but also became an instant show stealer.
Eric Erchien of North County was elusive enough to resist a ferocious rally by Ethan Basler in the final seconds after bringing a lead into the third period, and the Raiders notched an exciting 39-35 victory.
Dragons captain John Vogt (171), who finished runner-up last year at the Class 3 state tournament, was honored before the meet on Senior Night. His victory by fall over J.J. Buckner in 1:41 brought Ste. Genevieve within 30-29.
Erchien maintained a modest lead after starting the ensuing match with a nice headlock takeover, but Basler stayed within 9-7 through two periods with a focused single-leg attack.
Erchien extended his advantage to 11-8 with a controlled waistlock before Basler delighted the roaring home crowd with a clean reversal. Basler released Erchien to conserve time for a potential tying takedown, but could not shift his weight into a dominant position before the buzzer sounded.
The 14 matches were split evenly with each team winning seven, but Ste. Genevieve was open at the 130 and 285 divisions, enabling Joey Misuraca and Elijah Hutchinson of the Raiders to each procure six points by forfeit.
North County (8-2) received consecutive falls from its two state-ranked athletes. Cody Compton (152) pinned Brandon Huck in 1:20 while scoring five takedowns, and Tayler Decker (160) defeated Daniel Baker in 2:21 after ending the first period leading 16-4.
Garret Arnold (119) recorded the quickest Raiders victory in 56 seconds over Steven Basler, moments after Brock Harrison (112) pinned Gabe Bader at the 1:41 mark.
Ste. Genevieve briefly surged ahead with three straight wins in the middle divisions, including two major decisions. Derrick Greishaber (135) defeated Jake Griffin 11-2, and Zach Fallert topped Brad AuBuchon 11-1. Justin Roth (140) reversed an early takedown in a 9-3 decision over Kasey Turner.
Jesse Martinelli began the dual at 103 pounds by pinning Johnny Wirtz in 1:33, and Kevin LeClere (125) claimed a disputed fall over Seth Revelle that the referee awarded as time expired in the first period.
The final contested match also went to the Dragons, as Jake Gegg (215) pinned John Nichols in 1:12 following four takedowns.
North County will face its final regular-season test at Hillsboro next Wednesday. Ste. Genevieve is scheduled to compete at the Oak Grove Tournament on Saturday.