SINCLAIRVILLE - One more week, and Randy and Cody Spicer might have been able to start their Frewsburg coaching careers off on a winning note.
"This team is going to be a lot stronger a week from now," Randy explained, "because we'll have four more kids that will be eligible.
"I really wish we could have wrestled this one a week later," he added with a laugh.
Above, Frewsburg’s Zach Haller, top, is in control of Cassadaga Valley’s Tyson Gugino during the 220-pound bout Wednesday in Division 2 wrestling action. Haller ended up winning the match by pin. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
Unfortunately for the Bears, however, that wasn't in the cards, and the Spicers' slightly shorthanded squad fell to host Cassadaga Valley, 34-33, in a season-opening Division 2 duel on Wednesday evening.
That the Bears are even able to ponder victory this season, though, is an impressive turnaround in and of itself.
Yes, it's a far cry from just a season ago when Frewsburg, with just seven wrestlers - including Nick Mitchell and Kevin Strong, both of whom reached the New York State Public High School Athletic Association state tournament on a number of occasions - stepped onto the mat each and every time already mathematically eliminated from contention.
But with a returning cast that includes veteran contributors Austin Lynn, Devone Adelgren and James Haick, and a group of newcomers like John Martin, Kyle Parker and Zach Haller (to name a few), the Bears will be looking to compete this time around.
On Wednesday they did, and very nearly came out on top.
Taking a lead from the start - Martin decisioned Cassadaga Valley's Tyler Rendell, 12-5, at 126 pounds and then Parker pinned opponent Shane Szablewski at 1:41 in the 132-pound bout - Frewsburg managed to hold on to its lead throughout the match.
Until the very end, at least.
Leading by five, 33-28, 99-pounder Trent Merrill stepped onto the mat and, after claiming victory by forfeit, clinched the match for the Cougars by a single point as the final three matches (at 106, 113 and 120 pounds) were double forfeits.
"We were very pleased with how the kids wrestled," Randy Spicer said. "A lot of them are first-year kids and they really exceeded out expectations. There wasn't a kid on the mat - win or lose - that I wasn't impressed with today."
Though Merrill scored the winning points, the Cougars recorded crucial victories in two of the last three contested matches to put themselves in the position to capture the league contest.
Brandon Wise started things off at 195 pounds with a fall in just 25 seconds of Frewsburg's Scott Cappidonia to make it 33-22 and then Josh Atwell delivered what Cassadaga Valley coach Jeremy Beichner noted was his team's most impressive victory.
Atwell, after some grappling with fellow 285-pounder Tyler Pearson, managed to knock Pearson from his feet a minute into the opening period and, pouncing on the advantage, flattened his opponent to the mat for the pin at 1:11.
"That was the match I was most impressed with," Beichner said. "We weren't sure what was going to happen because with two big guys you never know. In this one though it just so happened that (Josh) caused (Pearson) to lose his balance and he capitalized. He showed a lot more intensity than last season, which is outstanding, and we hope he keeps it up."
Up next for the Cougars is the Maple Grove Kick-off Classic, which is slated to begin on Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
126: John Martin (F) d. Tyler Rendell, 12-5.
132: Kyle Parker (F) p. Shane Szablewski, 1:41.
138: Billy Sischo (C) p. Preston Rhodes, 1:29.
145: James Haick (F) by forfeit.
152: Devone Adelgren (F) p. Zach Mower, 1:25.
160: Tage Reuther (C) p. Robert Russo, 3:20.
170: Nick Peterson (C) tf. Kevin Rogers, 5:11.
182: Austin Lynn (F) p. Eben Torres, :32.
195: Brandon Wise (C) p. Scott Cappidonia, :25.
220: Zach Haller (F) p. Tyson Gugino, 2:21.
285: Josh Atwell (C) p. Tyler Pearson, 1:11.
99: Trent Merrill (C) by forfeit.
106: Double forfeit.
113: Double forfeit.
120: Double forfeit.