Spald­ing wins in tough field

Two-day tour­na­ment in­cluded The Post’s top four teams

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports - BY GREG SCHIMMEL schim­melg@wash­post.com

In Spald­ing’s fi­nal match at the Bat­tle­field Duals on Satur­day, K.K. Smith wanted to set the tone.

Wrestling at 215 pounds in the sec­ond bout of the Cava­liers’ dual against Con­nellsville (Pa.), Smith knew a strong start would get his team rolling in a dual that would clinch the team cham­pi­onship.

“You got to make a state­ment right out of the gate,” Smith said. “I just didn’t hold back.”

Smith’s at­tack­ing men­tal­ity paid off, as he pinned his op­po­nent in 1 minute 30 sec­onds to earn the sec­ond of Spald­ing’s five pins in a 45-21 win.

Spald­ing, ranked No. 2, fin­ished 7-0 in the two-day, 12-team event at Colo­nial Forge High School. It was the only squad to fin­ish un­de­feated in a tour­na­ment that fea­tured the top four teams in The Post’s Top 10.

Third-ranked Robin­son fin­ished sec­ond, Con­nellsville fin­ished third and top-ranked Colo­nial Forge came in fourth af­ter to­tal team points sep­a­rated those three teams, which all fin­ished 5-2.

“ There were some very good teams here,” Spald­ing Coach Mike Lai­d­ley said. “Our last four matches were against tough teams and could have gone ei­ther way. We were lucky we had some kids step up and win big matches.”

In the first bout of the fi­nal dual against Con­nellsville, Zach Abey wres­tled up at 189 and earned a pin in the sec­ond round be­fore Smith made it two pins in a row.

Heavy­weight Ma­lik John­son scored a late take­down to win his match by a 4-1 de­ci­sion in triple over­time, then 103-pounder Michael Still won by pin in 1:08 and Vince Perez won a 3-2 de­ci­sion at 112 to build Spald­ing a 24-0 lead.

The fast start re­moved most of the cham­pi­onship sus­pense, as Spald­ing’s win al­lowed it to avoid fall­ing into a po­ten­tially com­pli­cated multi-team tie.

“We had a lot of great­matches out there,” Still said. “I just knew we had to get some pins to keep scor­ing and get some points.”

To earn the chance to clinch the tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship in the fi­nal round of duals, Spald­ing out­lasted Colo­nial Forge, 27-21, in an evenly matched dual in the first round of the fi­nals.

The first 12 in­di­vid­ual bouts of that dual were won by de­ci­sion be­fore Spald­ing 145-pounder Char­lie Lynch earned a firstround pin to clinch the match.

Smith wres­tled down to 189 in that dual and took down Colo­nial Forge ju­nior David Reck in over­time to earn a 7-5 de­ci­sion in a match be­tween two of the area’s best wrestlers.

“ There weren’t any easy matches,” Smith said. “We just had to wres­tle hard all week­end.”

In other no­table duals, Colo­nial Forge beat Robin­son, 30-25, in a heated fi­nal-round match that was halted briefly in the mid­dle af­ter a dis­pute over a wrestler’s el­i­gi­bil­ity in a higher weight class.

In the tour­na­ment’s pre­lim­i­nary rounds, Robin­son beat fourth-ranked West­field, 31-30; Spald­ing beat West­field, 38-22; and Spald­ing beat Robin­son, 35-31.

“ There weren’t a lot of easy bouts,” Colo­nial Forge Coach Bill Swink said. “Events like these are what you need to do to get ready for the end of the sea­son.”

JOEL RICHARDSON FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Spald­ing 140-pounder Will Switzer, right, helps his team to the cham­pi­onship of the Bat­tle­field Duals.

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