When it comes to wrestling, fans usually want a pin. Thursday, Rock Bridge wanted anything but a pin.
Rock Bridge led Kirksville 33-31 going into the 130-pound match, the night’s second to last match. The problem was Rock Bridge junior Theo Blumenschein was facing Kirksville senior Logan Schmitz, who placed second at the state meet last year. Blumenschein fought hard for three rounds but ended up on his back with 20 seconds left in the third period.
Determined not to get pinned and give the Tigers six points, Blumenschein rolled from shoulder to shoulder, barely avoiding the fall, losing a 13-5 decision to give the Tigers a 34-33 lead.
Blumenschein, who Rock Bridge coach Brook Harlan described as “a phenomenal wrestler,” said he didn’t know anything about his opponent before the match.
“I tend to not really think about who I’m wrestling,” he said, but after the match began, “I knew it was going to be a tough one right from the bat.”
Blumenschein had done his job. In the night’s last match, he watched 135-pound junior Taylor Crane, who placed fifth at state last year, immediately take down Kirksville freshman Sterling Malloy and win by fall in just 23 seconds. The Bruins won 39-35.
Blumenschein had no worries leaving the outcome of the dual up to Crane.
“Taylor is No. 1 in state,” Blumenschein said. “I have a lot of confidence in him.”
The match started at 140 pounds and the Bruins couldn’t have asked for a better place to begin. Kyle Lewis, who made it to the final eight at last year’s at state meet at 130-pounds, was first up for the Bruins.
Despite a slow start, which Harlan attributed to the holiday break and still adjusting to 140 pounds, Lewis picked it up in the third to win by fall.
Bruins 145-pound senior Kiffer Slate and 152-pound Charlie Lay followed with first-round falls. Rock Bridge was ahead 18-0 early.
Harlan said he knew Kirksville was tough in the upper weights, but that Rock Bridge is really strong in the middle weights and getting the early lead was important.
The win was slightly tainted for the Bruins, though. Kirksville doesn’t have a wrestler at 285 pounds, giving the Bruins six free points that proved crucial at the end of the match. Rock Bridge had a junior varsity wrestler at 285 who probably would have lost if he had to wrestle.
Kirksville coach Kevin Powell said his team, which finished fourth at state last year, has been working around handing out six free points.
“We’re kind of used to it,” Powell said.
Powell said his team has been coming back all year long, but he knew that his freshman 135-pounder would have no shot at Crane.
“He’s one of the best in the country,” Powell said of Crane.
Harlan said his team is usually the one giving away points for not having a full lineup. He said this might have been the first match of the year where he had enough guys back from sickness and injury to fill the roster.
Even if the win was tainted, Harlan said he was pleased with the outcome. Rock Bridge had four first-round falls. Freshman Will Evans was the only Bruin to win by decision, 9-6.