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Streak reaches 168 straight matches
Elijah Baisden faced a stiff test and an old rival during a Jan. 12 non-divisional county-league tri-meet at Springbrook, and the 220-pound senior did so despite having to overcome an energy-sapping illness.
“I had a stomach bug for the previous couple of days,” said Baisden, a returning state runner-up and county and regional champion. “I was throwing up a lot, and my weight dropped to about 215.”
Baisden, nevertheless, summoned the intestinal fortitude to gut out a come-from-behind, 5-3 decision over Aimrick Nya at 285 pounds, keying for the Swarmin’ Hornets (16-0) a 39-24 victory over the Blue Devils (14-1), and their program’s 168th consecutive dual-meet win.
Pins by senior Jack Hembrough (195) and sophomore Joe McNeely (113) — the latter in 71 seconds — staked the Swarmin’ Hornets to a 25-0 lead after five bouts.
Sophomores Michael Emerick (126) and Brodie Douglas (138) also earned come-from-behind decisions for the Swarmin’ Hornets, who ended their second straight 25-0 season last February with their 152nd victory and an unprecedented sixth straight state duals crowns.
Junior Isaiah Bell (152) clinched the match for the visitors, 34-12, on an 8-4 decision, with three bouts remaining, and the Swarmin’ Hornets earned the final win by technical fall from state runner-up Timothy Furgeson (182), who followed consecutive pins by the Blue Devils’ Sahid Antar (160) and Anthony Gomez (170).
“As a team, we came out with an intensity they weren’t able to match,” said Baisden, whose victory in the day’s third match followed a fall by junior Aiden Bell as the Swarmin’ Hornets led, 15-0.
“Joe’s pin was a huge momentum boost, and that’s probably the best I’ve seen Brodie wrestle this whole season. It’s great keeping this streak alive with a big match like this when a lot of people don’t think we can do it.”
Following a major decision by Silas Patton (113) and the triumph by McNeely, the Blue Devils were on the scoreboard, 25-3, thanks to a decision by Matt Kilby (120).
The Swarmin’ Hornets then sandwiched the wins by Emerick (126) and Brodie Douglas (138) around a pin by the Blue Devils’ Dassaeve Jean (132) to maintain a 31-9 lead.
Emerick trailed 4-1, entering the second period after a pair of takedowns by Sayfore Sieh, but the regional champ and state runner-up outscored Sieh, 5-0, for a 6-4 lead entering the third. Emerick escaped, scored a takedown and cradled Sieh for two near-fall points in an eventual 7-4 victory.
Douglas was down 2-0, entering the second period, following Jason Strattonbey’s takedown late in the first. But Douglas made it 2-2, with a reversal sustained control from the top position into overtime, where his takedown secured a 4-2 decision.
The Blue Devils were within, 31-12, following an 11-4 decision by Jean Mehul (145) over Chris Hyer, whose late escape shaved a team point from his adversaries, turning a major decision (worth four team points) into a decision (worth three) before Bell took the mat and ended matters.
“The theme of our match tonight was ‘Show Us Your Heart,’ and we felt like Brodie Douglas getting that overtime win was a good example of that,” said Swarmin’ Hornets’ coach John Furgeson. “With Timmy being at the end, we felt pretty confident that Chris Hyer’s match is the one that pretty much sealed it for us.”
The loss was an improvement over the Blue Devils’ of 67-0 of a year ago to the Swarmin’ Hornets, whose coach Furgerson is a co-worker with counterpart Rob Whittles at Springbrook.
“I thought our guys gave a good effort, but we let a couple [of] matches get away from us that we needed to win if we were going to win the dual. We need to be prepared to wrestle for six full minutes. We need [to] keep hustling to score on bottom,” said Whittles.
“Having tough matches like this will help us prepare for the rest of the season,” he added. “We need to learn from this so that we can keep improving. There are lots of big matches still left, so we need to keep moving forward and keep working hard.”
Baisden’s hard work involved cutting from the 285 pounds he competed at a year ago when he twice won close bouts against Nya, but the most recent was more challenging given his illness.
“This is my third time beating him, and the other times were at heavyweight last year. The first one was 3-1 during the regular season, and the second was 4-2 in the semifinals of the county tournament. You have to be a little bit smarter wrestling these bigger dudes, attacking when you see an opening,” said Baisden, who trailed 1-0 in the second period following a scoreless first.
“That’s what I did to go up, 2-1, with the takedown in the second period,” Baisen added. “He tied it back up with an escape in the second with about eight seconds left, but he locked his hands. I reversed him, and he got an escape with about 30 seconds left. I’ve been running and doing what I need to do, so I was confident wrestling a guy who is probably 40 pounds heavier than me.”