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Senior night drama

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Pictured is the senior class representing the Connersville High School wrestling team in 2018-19. The five upperclassmen were honored inside the CHS gymnasium on Wednesday evening, prior to posting a victory over Hagerstown. The seniors are, from left, manager Sydney Shepherd, Colton Massey, Zack McQueen, Blake Bushey and manager Alexia McDonald.
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Connersville’s Evan Shafer rolls Hagerstown’s Guy Shaffer into a pinning position inside the CHS gymnasium on Wednesday evening. Shafer and the Spartans claimed a 42-36 win over the visiting Tigers.
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Connersville senior Colton Massey wraps up Hagerstown wrestler Matt Brown, Wednesday night inside the Connersville High School gymnasium. Massey pinned Brown, helping the Spartans achieve a 42-36 victory.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

Some might say that there is no harm in waiting until the last minute to accomplish a goal.

Connersville High School wrestling coach Mac Taylor would beg to disagree.

Taylor watched as his charges grappled to a large advantage over visiting Hagerstown on Wednesday night, before allowing the Tigers to charge all the way back and move in front.

Following a forfeit win for the Spartans that tied the score at 36-36, CHS sent Jarred Barrett to the mat to face Clay Cochran in a winner-take-all bout at 145 pounds.

“(Hagerstown coach) Anton Payne and I grew up wrestling together, so I have a lot of respect for him,” Taylor said afterward. “He’s been working with those kids a lot, and has put together a pretty good team, so I knew that this had the potential of being a very close match.

“In spite of that, I really didn’t like it being this close.”

Fully aware of the stakes in their match, Barrett and Cochran fought back and forth, before the CHS freshman seized an opportunity and put his opponent on his back for a pin, giving Connersville the team victory, 42-36.

The pin occurred with four seconds left in the period.

“I really think I got a couple more gray hairs following that one,” Taylor said with a smile. “Barrett really stepped up. He was wrestling up a weight class tonight, and the kid he wound up facing was a decent wrestler.

“Barrett went out, however, handled his business and pinned him.”

Pins were standard in the dual. Four weight classes went match-less, due to forfeits from one team or the other (neither team suited up a competitor at 120 pounds). 

In each of the remaining bouts, however, someone wound up on their back.

Through the first seven weights (starting at 152 pounds), Connersville was dominant, scoring pins at 160, 170, 195 and 285. Combined with a forfeit win at 152, the Spartans constructed a 30-12 lead, following the battle at 285.

“Blake Bushey (160) and Colton Massey (170) both wrestled well tonight,” Taylor said. “Zack McQueen (285) actually had some trouble with that Hagerstown kid the last time he faced him, but tonight Zack went right after him.”

While the large lead spoke well of the Spartans, Hagerstown would fight back.

Two pins and a forfeit win in the next four matches (neither team scored at 120 due to the double forfeit), pulled the Tigers even at 30-30.

“We need to get some of the smaller kids to come out for wrestling,” Taylor said. “Carson Boulware (106) and Gavin McGuire (113) are doing a good job for us, but in Carson’s case, at about 85 pounds, he’s just giving up so much size. As a freshman, Gavin doesn’t have that aggressiveness yet, that a lot of high school kids have. We’re developing that, however.

“I think that in the future, both of those kids can be stars for this team.”

After knotting the score, Hagerstown followed with another pin in the 132-pound match, taking its first lead of the night.

CHS’ Baylee Lawrence then countered with a forfeit win at 138 to tie the match, setting up Barrett’s heroics.

“They’d already beaten us once this year, so we’ve worked really hard to try and reverse that,” Taylor said. “We wrestled flat at Richmond last week, pretty much as a team. Tonight, however, there were only a couple of our kids that I thought could have given a little bit more. Everyone else came out aggressive and wrestled their match.”

In exhibition action, CHS sophomore Dylan Lawson proved dominant in a pair of matches, winning both by pin in the first period.

“I had Lawson last year as a freshman, and he knew what a what a wrestling mat was, but didn’t really know what wrestling was,” Taylor said. “We worked with him, and through his hard work and the improvements that he made over the summer, I believe he is one of our up-and-coming wrestlers on the team.”

Connersville is next in action at the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference meet at Lawrenceburg on Saturday. 

“We have a tough conference. Lawrenceburg and Franklin County are really strong,” Taylor said. “East Central and South Dearborn are also very good. Despite that, if we wrestle the way I know we’re capable of, I think we can finish in the top three.”

CONNERSVILLE 42, HAGERSTOWN 36

Match started at 152 pounds

152 — Tyler Russell (C) won by forfeit (6-0)

160 — Blake Bushey (C) defeated Brad Scholl (H), pin (12-0)

170 — Colton Massey (C) defeated Matt Brown (H), pin (18-0)

182 — Blake Beaver (C) lost to Jake Combs (H), pin (18-6)

195 — Evan Shafer (C) defeated Guy Shaffer (H), pin (24-6)

220 — Alex Fox (C) lost to Jon Monaghan (H), pin (24-12)

285 — Zack McQueen (C) defeated Tom Clark (H), pin (30-12)

106 — Carson Boulware (C) lost to Will Castle (H), pin (30-18)

113 — Gavin McGuire (C) lost to Nick McNew (H), pin (30-24)

120 — Double forfeit

126 — Traci Weber (H) won by forfeit (30-30)

132 — Austin Wenta (C) lost to Javin Payne (H), pin (30-36)

138 — Baylee Lawrence (C) won by forfeit (36-36)

145 — Jarred Barrett (C) defeated Clay Cochran (H), pin (42-36)

Exhibition match

170 — Dylan Lawson (C) defeated Shane Ayotte (H), pin.