More than special

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By John Herndon

Senior Night is supposed to be special but that adjective might not be sufficient to modify the kind of finish for Anderson County wrestling last Wednesday night.

Trailing 38-27 with two bouts remaining, Bearcats Travis Kaelin (215 pounds) and Dylan Hughes (heavyweight) recorded rare pins to upset 17th-ranked Harrison County 39-38. Kaelin, a freshman, and Hughes, a junior, gave the Anderson seniors a big send off in their final home meet.

The victory was perhaps the biggest of the year for the Bearcats as they prepare for the regional meet, set for Feb. 14 at Fort Knox.

“This feels real good,” said 119-pounder Ben Joseph, who recorded a win earlier in the evening. “It seems like as we get closer to the regional, we are becoming a family.”

Kaelin pinned B. Williams just 67 seconds into their match. Still five points down, Hughes answered by putting C. Burley’s shoulders to the mat with 18 seconds to go in the first period.

“They haven’t had many (pins),” Anderson coach Tom Castle said. “You don’t see as many in the larger classes.

Hughes said he was not aware that his team needed the fall for the win as he took the mat. “I found out later,” he said.

But Hughes got Burley in a headlock then went straight to the mat for the decisive victory.

“That is what we teach,” Castle said of the pins. “We wanted to get them on their backs and win that way.”

With no wrestlers in two, sometimes three, weight classes, Anderson is normally down 12 or 18 points before a match starts. But Wednesday, Harrison also forfeited three bouts, leaving the results of the match in just eight bouts.

The teams split those eight, with both teams recording three pins.

The difference was so slight that the final margin could actually be traced to Anderson’s T.W. Stockton, who avoided being pinned at 135 pounds. The major decision gave Harrison five points, one point less than a fall.

Joseph got things off to a rousing start, pinning Jackson Sanders with 10 seconds to go in the second period.

Joseph appeared to be in control for most of the match but could not turn Sanders completely over for the pin. “He had a strong base on him,” Joseph said.

Anderson also got a huge win when Drew Monarch (152) outpointed Harrison’s Coty Berrey 16-9 in a wild match that had both grapplers completely exhausted. Monarch took control early in the second period and was never seriously threatened after that.

Perhaps the most exciting match of the night came at 140, where Josh Moss of Harrison defeated Anderson’s Jacob Vincent 14-11.

The lead changed hands four times with Moss getting a break inside the final 10 seconds of regulation.

Vincent, who was down by five points late in the second period, caught up at 11 with a take down at the 10-second mark. Vincent mistakenly believed the action had been blown dead, allowing Moss to escape with the decisive point.

Even with disappointment of the closest match of the night, Anderson was jubilant in recording the upset.

“This was a good win,” Castle said. “Psychologically, it was huge.”

And it was a good send-off to Joseph, Monarch, Vincent and Jonathan Haddix (189). While they have four more matches on the road before regional tournament action, it was the last time at home. “It seems like it has just gone out the door,” Joseph said.

As sophomores, the current seniors had to adjust to the first coaching change in the program’s history, when Castle came from his assistant coach job at Woodford County

“This is a testament that they are tough enough to hang in there,” Castle said.

And it is coming together for a young Bearcat team as the elimination tournaments approach.

Less than a month ago, Castle was cautiously optimistic that five or six of his team had a chance to advance to the state meet.

“They are getting better,” he would say.

But after beating a ranked team, Castle was a bit more gung-ho.

“I think all of them have a chance,” he smiled.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.