Eight senior Panthers were honored before Cape’s Jan. 30 wrestling match at Polytech. Before the match Cape coach Chris Mattioni said “too close to call.” That coded message cam mean anything from “we should win” to “we don’t have a chance with two starters out of the lineup” or may actually mean what the coach said. Who knows?
Cape held on for a 30-29 win; it doesn’t get any closer in the victory column. Cape was outscored 16-0 in the final three weight classes.
Starting at 126, Cape rolled into the 195-pound weight class leading 19-13. Cape had gotten wins from Elliot Young 132 and Sean Sheehan 138. Austin Smith at 145 secured a 5-point tech fall, and Justin Lopez 170 and Andrew Flowers 182 won 4-point major decisions.
But the match was focused on Hunter Dailey; there was no room for him to falter. Cape had to build a lead going into the final three lightweight classes.
“Hunter is an athlete, works hard in practice, goes up against Flowers, Ott and Carroll every day, but he sometimes wrestles himself into trouble, ” Mattioni said with a smile after Dailey won by major decision, giving Cape a 23-13 lead.
Next came strategy time. Poly’s Davis Hestera at 220 was announced as having a record of 22-1. Thomas Ott, the defending state champion in that weight class, was lying in wait - or is that weight? Hestera didn’t come out. Poly coach Erik Buckson bumped up 195-pounder David Myers. Cape sent out Nick Carroll.
Carroll decisioned the athletic Myers 6-4, giving Cape a 26-13 lead and setting up a showdown at heavyweight.
Stopping Ott in that “money” situation is like draining the diesel fuel from a road grader, then turning it upside down. Ott won a 8-0 major decision, but every Polytech fan in the gym saw 30-13 then used the calculation function on their smartphones for a pre-algebra assessment: 30 minus 13 equals 17 is less than 3 times 6 equals 18. “Three pins we win.”
Cape’s 106-pounder Emerson Fajardo, a sophomore who weighs 100 pounds dripping wet, had a crazy match with Spencer Hahn where each wrestler fought off his back. Hahn won the panic attack bout 16-8 for a 4-point major decision.
"Emerson didn’t wrestle last year," Mattioni said. “He’s a smart kid, knows we don’t win if he gets pinned, but he is not happy losing. He has the potential to be really good.”
The Cape coaches knew at 30-17 that, outside of an unsportsmanlike call, it's impossible to get 13 points in two matches. Daddy Dome Chris Jensen left the gym to warm up the bus. "I always leave with two matches left to warm up the big yellow taxi but it's nice to know we won,'" Jensen said
Cape prevailed 30-29.