Rockets sting Yellow Jackets, fall to Page

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
The Rockets go crazy after Josh "Tank" Hill came up with the match clinching pin that sent Forrest to the championship round of the Region 7A/AA Dual Wrestling Tournament at Fairview Thursday night. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

In the opening match of the Region 7A/AA Dual Wrestling Tournament at Fairview Thursday night, the Page Patriots took down Eagleville 66-18 before things got interesting as the host Yellow Jackets and the defending region champion Forrest Rockets became embroiled in an epic battle on the mat for a spot in the championship dual.

"We put ourselves in a position to win which is what we talked about all week long," Forrest coach Kyle Stacey said. "We had to have certain things happen and the guys did exactly what we asked them to do."

Josh "Tank" Hill pins Fairview's Everitt Delano in a match that clinched Forrest a spot in the region final.

'Tank' wrestles

Forrest would prevail 36-33 in a spirited comeback that went down to the final weight class as Josh "Tank" Hill went head-to-head with Everitt Delano in the 285-pound weight class.

"We made a decision right before that particular bout to let "Tank" wrestle because he had never faced him before," Stacey said. "He's been working hard in the practice room and that was an epic match and one he will never forget."

The two warriors battled for over four minutes before Hill came up with the pin, sending the Rockets to the finals versus Page.

"I was going in with the mindset that I was not going to settle for anything less than a pin," Hill said. "It was great, it was really exciting."

Page moves up

The magic would not reappear in the championship bout as Page qualified for the TSSAA State Tournament with a 45-36 win, leading Forrest at one point 45-18.

"They got on us quick and when you have as many guys as they do, they can move guys around, while we were kind of locked in," Stacey said. "Not having Harley (Sisk) really hurt us because we gave those six points right off the bat, but I couldn't be more proud of our guys, they battled hard all night."

Freshman Jeffery Gross (106-pounds), who won both of matches in the event, started off the match versus Fairview with a first period pin over Jesse Howell.

"It feels pretty good just going out there and perform," Gross said. "I just really love the sport."

Early tie

A Rocket forfeiture in the 113-pound weight class, normally occupied by Harley Sisk, who had a 22-10 record before suffering a season-ending injury tied the match at 6.

Dylan Pendley gets ready to pin Fairview's James Jones.

2014-2015 TSSAA State Tournament 113-pound fourth place medalist Dylan Pendley, who has moved up to 120-pounds this season, followed with a grind it out 11-8 decision win over James Jones in a match in which the Forrest sophomore never trailed.

Fairview's Brian Jones (126) came up with a pin over Justin Leonard, taking a 12-9 lead, but Peyton Sisk (132) gutted out an 8-6 win over Chase Myatt, tying the bout at 12.

The Yellow Jackets tallied the next nine points on a fall by Christian Sisco (138) and decision win by Mario Pukl (145) to take a 21-12 lead.

Big wins

Forrest senior Clay Watson (152) notched three points for the Rockets with a dominating 11-6 win over Robert White and freshman Wesley McCoy (160) destroyed Trace Elliot with a first period pin, retying the match at 21.

The Yellow Jackets stung back hard, coming up with back-to-back pins by Joshua Ortiz-Derrick (170) and Travis Caldwell (182), taking a 12-point lead with three matches remaining.

Nikolas McGuiggan (220-pounds) pinned Jackson Clevenger, setting up Hill for the clinching win.

Junior Billy Clanton (195) righted the Rockets' ship, picking up three points on a 10-4 win over Tristin Morton before Nikolas McGuiggan (220) came through in a pinch, pinning Jackson Clevenger with 11.8 seconds remaining in the 220-pound bout that tightened the score at 33-31.

Hill (285) took center stage with Delano and the duo turned in a crowd pleasing performance, battling for two periods that had the Fairview grappler in front 6-0.

Major pin

At the outset of the third period, "Tank" turned the tables, pinning the Yellow Jacket grappler 34 seconds into the final stanza to send the Rockets to the championship bout.

"He won that match on heart," Stacey said. "That was just grit by both of those guys and that is what wrestling is all about and what people need to see."

The title match began with forfeit wins by Page at 113-pounds before Pendley pinned Ian Daffron in the first round.

The Patriots swept the next five weight classes, accumulating 27 points in the process to take a commanding 33-6 lead that essentially clinched the region title for Page.

McCoy win

McCoy busted up the streak with a second period fall over Chris Koshar, but the Pats responded with back-to-back, increasing their lead to 45-12.

Clanton won his second match of the night when he dominated Dayton Davis, pinning the Patriot wrestler in just 34 seconds.

Freshman Jeffrey Gross gets the old scissor lock on Fairview's Jesse Howell to lead off the night for the Rockets, who finished as runners-up at the Region 7A/AA Tournament.

Forrest was awarded forfeits in the next two classes and the event ended on a Gross pin over Cole Winer at the 1:24 mark of the third period.

"I just want to put in the hard work and go for that state title," Gross said. "Usually I have one move on my feet and then I want to get on top and just keep applying the pressure."

Back to work

The Rockets will be back in action for the Region 3A/AA Individual Tournament at Montgomery Central on February 12.

"These kids have fought hard and worked hard, so now it's time for the individual portion and I hope we can send six or seven kids to state," Stacey said.

Forrest sent five wrestlers to the individual portion of the state tournament last season, including current grapplers Pendley, Clanton and Watson.