BERNE – You couldn’t call him an unlikely hero, not with just two losses this season in 36 wrestling matches. But the script was definitely outside Ben Pfister’s usual box Saturday afternoon.
Three victories and a championship at 182 pounds for Pfister in the 42nd annual ACAC tournament; three victories by pinfall on a day when every point was dear for the Adams Central Flying Jets, who edged regular-season conference champ Leo 242-220 for the team title.
Yeah, I’m not much of a pinning wrestler, Pfister said. I usually stick it out for all six minutes. It was just I was able to be more aggressive, and, you know, it came.
Came for Pfister, who pinned Dustin Swaidner of Heritage in the finals in 3:45, and for Adams Central 160-pounder Kaine Luginbill, who pinned all three of his opponents as well, including Shea Pyle of South Adams in the finals in 4:54. Those two individual championships – plus two more from Cody Walburn (126) and Derek Ellinger (138), and solid performances in the wrestle-back round – got the Flying Jets home.
It was close, Adams Central coach Doug Schultz said. It was past (1)82 and it was still undecided.
Really, the kids in our wrestle-backs made the difference. We placed all 14 kids. Every kid scored. And then we wrestled pretty well in the finals, about as well as we could.
Aside from the Flying Jets, a handful of others stuck out. Hayden Lee of Garrett (27-1) spent a grand total of 3:50 on the mat in rolling to the 106-pound title, and three wrestlers – L.J. Moser of South Adams (120 pounds), Ben Fiechter of Southern Wells (132) and Noah Wilson of Leo (195) – remained unbeaten with title performances. Moser is 22-0, Feichter 35-0 and Wilson 30-0.
Then there was Briar Gerber of Bluffton, who won the 220 class with something more associated with basketball than wrestling – a buzzer beater.
Gerber led Mavrick Morningstar of South Adams 5-2 after one period and 5-4 after two, then saw Morningstar tie it with an escape early in the third period. That set up the down-to-the-wire finish with Gerber sealing the match 7-5 with a takedown that, depending on one’s viewpoint, either did or didn’t just beat the horn.
I was worried I wasn’t going to get the two points and go into overtime, Gerber said. I knew I didn’t have much time, and I knew it had to be something fast.
All Schultz knew was his Flying Jets needed every precious point they could get, even from the non-pin guy.
Yeah, (Pfister) is not a pinner, he said. He’s kind of a rider, keeps things close. But we knew we needed the pin points.