MANTUA — It seems like it’s inevitable no matter where they go.
If the Hudson and Crestwood wrestling teams get together, a sort of eerie situation always seems to impact the match.
"This is the third year we’ve had a dual with them and they’ve all come down to the end," Explorers head coach Joe Caniglia said.
"They have some really good wrestlers and we have a full lineup."
So what is this mysterious occurrence that always seems to lurk when the two schools, which are located just 20 minutes away from each other, battle each other on the mats?
"We start out really strong in the light weights," Red Devils head coach Dave Wrobel said. "That’s our strength. And then we try to hold on for dear life because that’s their strength in the upper weights."
The Crestwood wrestlers "held on for dear life" as long as they could.
In the end, the Explorers had a little more depth.
In a tune-up to prepare for the Division III state dual team tournament, the host Red Devils squandered a substantial lead against Hudson and suffered a 36-31 defeat.
With the win, the Explorers improved to 4-4 in dual matches.
"They’re a very good Division III team," Caniglia said. "We can be competitive with that. That’s a good balance because they have some really good wrestlers and we have a full lineup."
Hudson lost its first seven matches and trailed 28-0.
Unfortunately, Crestwood, which had just 12 wrestlers in the lineup and was forced to forfeit two matches, could do nothing to stop the Explorers in the upper weights.
It started with Gavin Wervey, who earned an 8-3 victory at 145 pounds.
Hudson continued to chip away at its deficit when Brendan Morris followed with a 6-2 decision win.
"Wervey came back to really get things going for us," Caniglia said. ""I thought Morris did a nice job. That was big for him."
But Hudson’s momentum was thwarted when John Sweet lost a 4-0 decision to the Red Devils’ Dalton Tyrrell. As a result, the Red Devils had a 31-6 lead and most likely were a match or two away from sealing the deal.
Still, though, Caniglia was encouraged. The defeat certainly hurt. But it didn’t reach catastrophic levels.
"I thought John wrestled a good match," Caniglia said. "That’s a good kid for them."
As it turns out, the Explorers were on the verge of a rampage Crestwood couldn’t stop.
Hudson stormed back to take the match with five straight wins and 30 unanswered points. This demolition included three pins and two forfeits.
Michael Caniglia started the onslaught with a first-period pin at 170 pounds and Jacob Peters, made an impressive spin move to get a second-period fall against Devin Oborn at 182.
"Jacob is funky like that," Coach Caniglia said. "He has some crazy hips and really, really good balance. He has good awareness of where he’s at and where he wants to get to. He’s tough to wrestle."
The Explorers got a forfeit win at 195 and then Brendan Demunyck put the cherry on top by pinning Cameron Langford in the second period at 220 pounds.
Demunyck’s all-important pin was pivotal for Hudson since Crestwood did not have a heavyweight. Therefore, the Explorers got another six points to complete their impressive comeback.
"They got a quick 30 points in a matter of 10 minutes," Wrobel said.
Caniglia certainly didn’t care to see his team fall into yet another hole. At the same time, though, the coach knows the difference between good losses and bad losses.
After allowing three pins and a major decision go against them in their first four matches, the rest of Hudson’s resilient wrestlers proved to be masters of damage control.
The Explorers avoided the critical bonus points down the stretch that can sink a team’s hopes in a heartbeat.
Hudson’s last three losses were relatively harmless decisions and not the backbreaking pins, technical falls or major decisions.
"Matt Hartle moved up from 13 to 20 to save some points and he did," Caniglia said.
"I thought Michael Mileski (126) wrestled a solid match. He didn’t put himself in bad position.
"Those are little moral victories there. You’re saving team points. You can lose and still wrestle pretty well."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.