Solon wrestling

Solon senior Nick Gerome (top) overpowered Lance Bond (bottom) to capture a 14-5 major decision. Gerome’s bout at 132 pounds helped the Comets almost pull off a comeback but eventually lost 33-31 to Perry on Dec. 23 at Perry High School.

The Solon Comets’ wrestling team’s depth continued being tested in their dual meet against the Perry Pirates. Solon’s comeback fell short and lost 33-31 to the Pirates last Thursday afternoon at Perry High School.

Holding a 31-27 edge entering the last match at 285 pounds, Kenny Walker secured the victory for the Pirates after he pinned sophomore Elliot Dalby at the buzzer in the first period.

“I think under the circumstances we did pretty well,” said Coach Audie Atienza. “We had a lot of starters out on Thursday. Overall with the way we fought, I like the way we worked.”

Following their second-place finish at the North Coast Classic in Independence, the Comets were sidelined for two weeks after their double-dual meet against Aurora and Kenston on Dec. 17 was cancelled.

According to Atienza, it was a relief to finally get back on the mats. He appreciated the extra time to get healthy but felt it was important his wrestlers compete in live matches sooner than later.

Despite the extended time off, the Comets entered their dual meet against Perry short-handed with six starters out. Solon felt their absence the hardest at the beginning of the meet during the first three matches.

Solon opened the meet by forfeiting the 106-pound match then Marcos Guirguis lost his bout in the 113-pound weight class when Pirates’ junior Dominic Cioli pinned him 00:48 seconds into the first period staking the Pirates to a 12-0 lead.

Perry extended its lead to 18-0 when the Comets forfeited the 120-pound match.

Solon found the spark it needed in the 126-pound match when junior Malkhi Sharpley pinned Drew Smith at the 1:40 mark of the second period trimming Perry’s lead to 18-6.

Atienza said that Sharpley overpowered Smith from the start of the match. It seemed that the Comets’ junior was on the verge of ending the bout in the first period when he cradled Smith for a potential pin but Smith escaped.

Sharpley continued dominating the Perry junior until he pinned his opponent in the second period. Sharpley held a 9-1 lead over Smith leading up to his pin.

Atienza said he was impressed by Sharpley allowing only one point to Smith during the match. He has noticed a huge difference in Sharpley compared to his first two years with the team.

“It’s been his willingness to work really hard,” said the six-year coach. “Even though it’s the beginning of the season he’s in good shape right now. You can only attribute that to hard work. He’s worked to get himself in that position where he can be strong in the third period and maintain his endurance.”

The middle order of Solon’s lineup continued to deliver when senior Nick Gerome earned a victory over Perry’s Lance Bond by a major decision of 14-5 in the 132-pound weight class cutting the lead to 18-10.

Atienza explained that it was a close match through the first two periods with Gerome holding a 6-1 advantage. The Comets’ senior then opened up his lead in the third period by collecting four takedowns.

The Comets’ continued narrowing Perry’s lead when senior Ricky Berns edged Luis Villabolos by a 6-2 decision in the 138-pound bout bringing Solon within 18-13.

“Ricky was in control of the match pretty much from the beginning,” Atienza said. “Luis Villalobos was coming close to scoring a lot and did score a couple of points. Ricky wrestled really smart and really well and stayed in good position as much as he could which enabled him to get the decision.”

Solon senior Christian Gau then won his 144-pound match by defeating Perry junior Calvin Peters by an 8-3 decision resulting in the Comets trailing by only two points, 18-16.

The Pirates extended their lead to 24-16 after Solon forfeited the 150-pound bout.

Freshman Frank Aquila defeated Domenick LaMacchia by a 10-8 decision in overtime and the Comets now trailed by five points, 24-19.

“They were going back-and-forth the whole match,” explained Atienza. “Frank had two takedowns in the first period and LaMacchia reversed him. The lead changed three times until the last 00:30 seconds of match. Frank got a takedown to tie it and had to ride him out to go into overtime. He did that and took a nice shot in overtime and scored the takedown after a long scramble.”

Solon took its first lead after the Pirates forfeited the 165-pound bout to go ahead 25-24 but the Pirates reclaimed the lead 27-25 when Chuck Thomas defeated Solon sophomore Aitan Dubson by a 4-1 decision in the 175-pound bout.

Perry moved ahead 30-25 after Gavin Nickerson beat sophomore Adian Carlisle 6-2 in the 175-pound weight class. The Comets went back in front 31-30 after the Pirates forfeited the 215-pound bout.

Following a double-dual meet against Buckeye, Mentor and Highland,, the Comets will begin the New Year on Jan. 7 in a tri-meet at the MAC Center at Kent State University at 6 p.m.

Then, Solon will travel to Claymont High School for the Claymont Duals on Jan. 8 beginning at 10. a.m.

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