JOHNSONBURG – Max Zimmerman would never again have the same opportunity that he was presented with Thursday night; Senior Recognition Night, the last dual match of the season and the opportunity to come away with his 100th high school victory on his home mat.
The star senior grappler from Paper City didn't disappoint, grappling his way to a victory by fall over Clarion's Rick Elliot at the 1:23 mark of the second period.
"That's pretty much the highlight of the night, something everybody was waiting for and they knew the starting weight was 140 so he got to wrestle the last match of the night," said Johnsonburg head wrestling coach Tom Launer following the dual match. "I thought we had a pretty nice crowd here, a lot of people came out to support Max [Zimmerman] and I told him before he came out, 'Max, you know it's an opportunity not a lot of kids get-- 99 wins and you're in your home gymnasium for your last dual match,' and I told him not to disappoint us.
"He went out there and got it done."
Zimmerman struck early with a takedown just 15 seconds into the match against Elliot, who spent much of the first period on the mat before escaping at the edge of the mat with 23 seconds to go.
With Elliot in the down position to start the second period, the two wrestlers traded reversals in a six-second span with Zimmerman ahead 4-3 with 1:47 to go. Zimmerman then rolled Elliot over and held him for several seconds before the referee signaled the pin at the 1:23 mark of the second period.
"This feels awesome and it's a great accomplishment," Zimmerman said following his 100th win. "I've been working hard the past four years and this is what it comes down to.
"It's really nice and I'm really appreciative now that I finally got it."
Despite declining numbers for Johnsonburg's wrestling squad, Zimmerman is Launer's third 100-match winner alongside Jesse Wolfe and alumnus Josh Woodford.
"It's been tough over the past few years with numbers but last year we had a real good team, very strong, but this year we don't have as many kids," Zimmerman said. "Either way, at practice we push each other to get through it and it all comes together.
"When I first started I thought it would be almost impossible to get 100 wins but going through all the hard work, I finally see that it is possible."
With win No. 100 under his belt, the senior now looks ahead to the district competition.
"From here, I want to make it on to the regional competition by being the district champion," Zimmerman said. "From there I hope to make it to the state tournament and place in the top eight, that would be great.
"I want to thank my uncle Scott who has really helped me over the last few years, Judd Zilcosky, Nick Cherry, all those guys, coach [Tom] Launer, Mike Votano, everyone, they've all been such a big help."
The head coach had nothing but praise for Zimmerman and also recognized the accomplishment of having coached three 100-match winners.
"As coaches, we're really proud of the accomplishments by these kids," Launer said. "We don't have a whole lot of kids but the ones that we do have come here and work hard. The coaching staff is just proud as can be of them.
"I'm very happy and I think we have one of the best coaching staffs around, just an excellent coaching staff. Ed DeCecchis, Mike Votano, Keith Guaglianone, all these guys do a real good job."
Clarion earned a 36-18 win over Johnsonburg in team action. Joey Beck started things off at 140 pounds for Clarion win a forfeit win to go up 6-0. With no match at 145 pounds, Johnsonburg's Mike Kennedy took a forfeit win at 152 pounds to knot the score at 6-all. With no match at 160 pounds, Clarion's Danny Walters scored a win by fall over Johnsonburg's Eric Bevacqua.
"I thought Eric wrestled a good match as a freshman considering who he was going up against," Launer said.
Walters hit a takedown 30 seconds into the match and tallied two back points at the buzzer. In the down position, Walters escaped and scored a reversal to take a 7-0 lead before scoring the pin with 49 seconds on the clock to give Clarion a 12-6 advantage.
Clarion's Andrew Bogley scored a forfeit win at 189 pounds to go up 18-6; forfeit wins at 215 pounds by Austin Smith and 285 points by Cameron Slike upped the visitors' lead to 30-6; there was no match at 103 pounds and Clarion's Riley Gunter scored a forfeit win at 112 pounds to go up 36-6.
After no match at 119 pounds, Johnsonburg's Jesse Wolfe wrestled a close contest against Clarion's Mike Bauer.
After a scoreless first period, Wolfe started the second in the down position and scored a reversal with 30 seconds to go to take a 2-0 lead.
With the lead, Wolfe added three back points at the 1:21 mark of the third period to take a 5-0 win and cutting Clarion's lead to 36-9.
"Jesse [Wolfe] had a real good match at 2-0 late before getting the back points in the third period," Launer said. "You're always happy to see a match like that and Mike Bauer is a good kid, 24-4, and that's a very good record.
"We were glad to see that match and both competitors wrestled well."
Johnsonburg's Alex Zimmerman wrestled a close match at 135 pounds but secured the 7-6 win over Clarion's Tyler Allen.
Alex built an early 4-1 lead thanks to a takedown 52 seconds into the first period and another takedown with 15 seconds on the clock; Allen scored an escape in between at the 1:02 mark. In the second period, Alex scored an escape at the 1:32 mark to go up 5-1 and later scored a reversal to take a 7-1 lead halfway through the match; but Allen followed with a reversal and two back points to cut the lead to 7-5. Allen escaped at the 1:38 mark of the third period but Alex held on for the 7-6 win.
"Alex [Zimmerman] had a real good match and he made a move up after struggling all year," Launer said. "He had a hard time keeping his weight down before deciding to wrestle at 130.
"He put a couple pounds on to bump up a weight class and he did well, he wrestled very well and maybe that's where he needs to be."
140 – Joey Beck (C) win by forfeit, (6-0 C)
145 – No match
152 - Mike Kennedy (J) win by forfeit, (6-6)
160 – No match
171 – Danny Walters (C) pin Eric Bevacqua (J), 3:11 (12-6 C)
189 – Andrew Bogley (C) win by forfeit, (18-6 C)
218 – Austin Smith (C) win by forfeit, (24-6 C)
285 – Cameron Slike (C) win by forfeit, (30-6 C)
103 – No match
112 – Ricky Gunter (C) win by forfeit, (36-6 C)
119 – No match
125 – Jesse Wolfe (J) dec. Mike Bauer (C), 5-0, (36-9 C)
130 – Alex Zimmerman (J) dec. Tyler Allen (C), 7-6, (36-12 C)
135 – Max Zimmerman (J) pin Rick Elliot (C), 2:37 (36-18 C)