Bruins win despite coach’s absence

Rock Bridge holds off Moberly 37-31
Friday, January 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:51 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rock Bridge overcame adversity to earn a difficult win against Moberly.

Bruins coach John Kopnisky was not there to see his lower weights propel the team to a 37-31 victory Thursday at Rock Bridge.

Kopnisky was held out of the match voluntarily, said assistant coach Brook Harlan, who guided the team Thursday.

Harlan said the move was made to avoid MSHSAA sanctions for allowing too many teams to compete in Rock Bridge’s Tournament of Champions in December. Kopnisky is expected to be back when the Bruins compete Saturday at the Francis Howell North Tournament.

Harlan said the way his wrestlers responded to the absence of their coach pleased him.

“I’d never been here by myself, but I’ve been there on the side coaching before so they really were ready,” Harlan said.

The Bruins also managed to win despite losses from Will Martin (160 pounds) and Erin Slate (171), two of their sectional qualifiers from last year.

Martin lost to Moberly’s Dane Fuhrman 12-1, while Slate lost 5-3 to the Spartans’ Charlie Gibbs. Slate’s match was tied at 3 with 30 seconds left when Gibbs earned two points for a reversal.

Harlan said winning without victories from two of the Bruins’ best was encouraging.

“It’s really good that they showed themselves they can win even if those guys don’t win every night,” Harlan said.

Early it looked like the Bruins were going to win without much of a fight from Moberly. The Bruins led 28-0 after five straight wins from their lower weights. Tim Bonham (112), Ron Simms (119), and Brady Wilson (130) all pinned their opponents, while Pat Elmore (125) earned a 14-2 win. Moberly’s open slot at 103 allowed Dustin Noell to win by forfeit.

Harlan expected these results.

“Our lightweights are always really strong and a lot of nights that carries over to the heavyweights,” Harlan said. “Tonight they (the lightweights) proved to be the difference.”

Moberly scored its first points of the night at 135 when Aaron Briscoe won 4-1 against the Bruin’s Clayton Holt. Rock Bridge countered with a pin at 140 by Jake Hardesty, a 2003 sectional qualifier and a 6-3 win at 145 by Ryan Clearwater, stretching the lead to its largest margin at 37-3.

Moberly fought back by winning the last six matches. The Spartans’ Josiah Keleher (152), Michael Jorgensen (215), and Zach Wybert (275) earned pins to lead Moberly’s rally. The Bruins’ early advantage, though, proved to be too much.

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