MICHIGANTOWN – There wasn’t much suspense in the battle for the team title at Thursday’s Clinton County Meet.
The two favorites, four-time defending champion Frankfort and Clinton Central, went head-to-head in the first match of the evening. The Hot Dogs won the first three individual matches – two by pin – and never looked back, topping the Bulldogs 41-26 en route to their fifth straight county title.
Alex Greeno (195) and Cameron Risse (220) got the ball rolling with pins, and Martin Garcia (285) followed with a decision to give Frankfort a 15-0 lead right off the bat.
“We were kind of lucky to start where we did,” said Frankfort head coach Richard Sallee. “It started to snowball. It was nice we drew those big weight classes (to start) and our smaller guys did a good job to keep that ball rolling. They were jacked up and got the adrenaline going for them.”
Frankfort also beat Clinton Prairie 76-6 and Rossville 60-24 to earn a perfect 3-0 record.
“We have a young team and we have good competition, so winning county means a lot to us because this helps our record and our team,” said Frankfort senior 132-pounder Hugo Perez. “It builds confidence. It’s something big for us.”
It was Frankfort’s veterans who led the charge. Perez won his fourth straight individual county title, getting pins in 17 seconds and 43 seconds against Clinton Prairie’s Jakub Wallsmith and Rossville’s Adam Easterday, respectively, and earning a 19-2 technical fall over Clinton Central’s Conner Mullin.
“It’s pretty awesome. I feel good about it because I work hard,” Perez said. “I just need to stay in good positions and not do dumb mistakes like I have done in the past. I’m ready for (the postseason).”
The victory pushed Perez’s record to 19-0 on the season. Perhaps most impressive is the fact Perez has yet to yield a single offensive point in the 2012-13 campaign.
“I feel my work pays off,” Perez said. “Coach helps me a lot and how you practice in the room is how you wrestle. If someone’s taller than me, I need to get lower. If you think you’re going to go out there and win, you’re going to win.”
Frankfort led all schools with seven individual champions. Risse won his third straight individual county title, pinning all three of his opponents in 75 seconds or less. Garcia earned his second straight county crown with a forfeit win against Prairie, pinning Rossville’s Kraig Tumey in 32 seconds and earning a 5-3 decision over CC’s Tristan Shaw.
“All those upperclassmen were business-like on the mat,” Sallee said.
In Garcia’s match against Shaw, Garcia let a 5-1 lead get to 5-3 after a couple of escapes by Shaw but he was able to hold him off.
Garcia is wrestling up two weight classes this year after competing at 195 last season. He said it has been a challenge.
“It’s pretty hard but I got to keep pushing myself harder and get better,” Garcia said. “It showed right here. All that weight, you have to wrestle a whole different style.”
Also winning county titles for Frankfort were Skyler Collins (113), Jason Belcher (126), Miguel Martinez (138) and Zach Ragains (152).
Martinez is a senior that didn’t wrestle last year.
“He’s really improved a lot, especially in the last couple of weeks,” Sallee said. “He’s going to start doing what the guys did last season, make the transition from a .500 record to placing in the conference, sectional and maybe moving to regional.”
The 126-pound champion had to go to a second tiebreaker – pins – after Belcher, CC’s Wyatt Lucas and Rossville’s Kyler Crow all went 2-1. Belcher, a freshman, pinned two opponents to Crow and Lucas’s one to be crowned champion.
Lucas, who was state-ranked on Monday, was the favorite going in but lost to Crow by decision, 12-11, to set up the tiebreaker. Lucas led 11-7 in the third period before Crow scored back-to-back two-point and three-point near falls to pull the upset.
Belcher was trailing Crow in the second period, 7-4, before putting Crow on his back and earning the pin in 3:05.
“(Belcher’s) been wrestling JV because he’s behind Hugo at 132,” Sallee said. “In any other year he’d be out varsity 132-pounder. He’s Hugo’s practice partner a lot of the time and Hugo says he’s going to be the real deal.”
Clinton Central juniors Jeff Scott (170) and Adam Miller (182) both won individual titles for the third consecutive year. Also winning county titles for CC was Caleb Archibald (120) and Jordan Petty (160).
Rossville had two individual champions: Tyler Fadness (106) and Austin Rangel (145). Clinton Prairie’s lone champion was senior Tyler Casey (195).
Clinton Central went 2-1, beating Clinton Prairie 66-18 and Rossville 61-12 to finish second. Rossville topped Clinton Prairie, 54-30, in their head-to-head matchup.