By RICHARD STROUD
GROVE — Winning four of the final five weight classes, the Grove Ridgerunners pulled away to down Tahlequah, 48-30, in a 5A wrestling dual Thursday evening.
The Tigers rallied from an early deficit to take a 27-24 after Reece Davis pinned Garrett Sisco in the first period of the 160-pound bout, but Grove retook the lead on a forfeit at 170 then got pins from Drew Hardy, Dylan Johnson and Colby Layman to put the dual away.
“The kids wrestled tough,” Grove head coach John Henry Ward said. “We know we’re not the most talented group that God ever put on the mat, but one thing we can do is come to battle and fight hard in every situation, and the kids are getting better at that.”
The Ridgerunners got forfeits at 106 and 120 surrounding Pedro Lara’s second period pin of Collin Pruitt at 113 to take an 18-0 lead.
Wrighter Weavel finally got the Tigers on the board with a hard-fought 11-9 decision over Dalton Hardy at 126 pounds. Hardy trailed 9-4 early in the third period, but got a takedown plus two near-fall points to cut the deficit to one, but Weavel countered with a reversal, and Hardy was unable to come up with the tying takedown.
Zach Van Fleet followed with a second period fall at 132 pounds to make it 18-9, but Josh Perez countered with his own second period pin to make it 24-9.
From there Tahlequah would get pins from Mitchell Sellers, Hestin Lamons and Davis to briefly take the lead for the only time in the dual.
“We knew they were tough from 132 on up to 160,” Ward said. “I really thought we could wrestle with their 160-pounder, but we just kind of got caught in a bad spot. I’ll be anxious to see that match again at regionals. I think we can give a better effort.”
Hardy built a 9-2 lead before pinning Logan Hulse in the third period of the 182-pound bout to make it a 36-27 Grove lead. Johnson followed by pinning Dustin Hicks late in the second period and Layman made short work of Hunter Littlejohn, getting the fall in 1:11.
In the 285-pound match, Tahlequah’s Joseph Tucker rallied from a 3-0 deficit with seven third period points for a 7-4 decision.
Up next for Tahlequah is the Doug Rial Classic in Pryor on Friday and Saturday. The Tigers will be in a field with teams such as Locust Grove, Pryor, Jenks, Edison, Skiatook, Bishop Kelley and Salina.