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St. Francis Takes Down St. Joe’s; Wins Msgr. Martin Wrestling Title

The St. Francis Red Raiders wrestling team paid a visit to arch rival St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute on Friday evening with the Monsignor Martin league (MM) championship on the line. The St. Francis/St. Joe’s dual is one of the area’s oldest and most passionate rivalries and the 2019 edition did not disappoint.

In a back and forth dual, St. Francis ultimately prevailed 36-32 to defend its MM dual meet championship from a year ago. The Raiders won eight matches against seven wins for ‘Joe’s. St. Francis also held the pin advantage with four total falls versus three for the Marauders.

“We’ve got high expectations, but there are no guarantees,” stated St. Francis head coach Mike Messore after the league championship winning dual. “We just wrestled a really good team. There were a lot of close matches, a lot of good heavy weight battles, and good kids against good kids. I’m glad we came out on the better end of it.”

The evening’s showdown began at 126-pounds when Jackson Alagna gave ‘Joe’s the first lead of the night winning by decision, 5-4, for three team points for the home team. League champion and CHSAA place winner Slade Merck answered with a pin at 132-pounds to take the lead for St. Francis. Teammate Jack Gordon gutted out an exciting 7-6 win by decision to add to the Raider team score, now 9-3.

St. Joe’s junior Ben Parish, a CHSAA place winner last season, matched St. Francis’s nine team points with the first Marauder pin at 145-pounds. ‘Joe’s took the lead back at 152-pounds when MM champ Ronnie Jones won a huge bout against St. Francis’s Dan Browning, also a league champion and ‘Catholic states’ place winner, by decision 10-6 for three ‘Joe’s team points.

At 160-pounds St. Francis’s Shane Roberts earned a fall for the Raiders, but St. Joe’s earned back to back wins by CHSAA placer Sullivan Walsh, by decision at 170-pounds, and Louis Perreault at 182. Perrault was a winner by pin and put the Marauders back on top, 20-15.

Two-time CHSAA champion Dominik Thomas was next for the Red Raiders at 195-pounds. However, St. Joe’s sent senior MM champion and CHSAA placer Matt Werts out to hold of the Raider star. Thomas had to earn a decision, 7-1, against a very strong opponent to win three more team points. Dominik’s twin brother Nolan was sent at 220-pounds against the Marauder’s Charles Morrison. Nolan was a CHSAA finalist last season while Morrison is a defending Catholic states placer. When it looked like Morrison would earn a takedown nearly out of bounds, Thomas was able to avoid the score and ended up on top and ultimately earned the fall and six more team points. After ten bouts, St. Francis led 24-20.

In one of the night’s most critical matches, St. Francis heavyweight Eric Schon gutted out a 2-1 2OT win against St. Joe’s defending MM champ Caleb Lesswing.

After the exciting 285-pound bout the dual meet would finally be decided by the lightest four weight classes. Going into the 99-pound bout, St. Francis clung to a 27-20 lead.

At 99, the Marauders’ Luke Sheehan earned a critical pin to get to within a point of the Raiders in the team score. Ben Grande earned a forfeit at 106-pound for St. Joe’s and with it the 32-27 lead.

However, St. Francis’s Liam Edwards came up with a huge pin at 113-pounds to retake the lead now 33-32. In the final bout of the night, Red Raider senior and league champion Logan Lauck came from down 4-1 in the match score to defeat ‘Joe’s CHSAA place winner Dalas Jackson, 10-4, to seal the Raider win 36-32.

“We came in calm, cool, and confident and with everyone believing in themselves,” said Coach Messore after the win. “[In practice] We wrestled really hard this week with a lot of live wrestling and did a lot of mental preparation. When you’re coming into an environment like this the mental part of things is important.”

St. Francis finished 4-0 in MM action this season and improved to 20-7 with the win.

St. Joe’s head coach Pete Kennedy found many positives with his team following the loss.

“I expected our guys to show up and wrestle just as much as I expected St. Francis to show up. It’s an unpredictable dual every single time it happens. They [St. Francis] are really well coached and almost every match was really competitive,” said Coach Kennedy. “At the end of the day, we lost a bunch of matches but we were still right in it. Our team is a good team, we wrestle tough competition…we’re in position to win a dual in almost every dual we’ve been in, all year.”

St. Joe’s fell to 2-1 in MM and 8-9 overall with the loss. Both squads and Canisius will travel to Msgr. Farrell HS in Staten Island for the CHSAA Dual Meet Championships, Saturday, January 26ththrough Sunday, January 27th.

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