LOCKPORT—Mikey Evans was the lone Griffin wrestler to advance beyond the first match on his way to a third-place finish at the 2017 Erie County Interscholastic Conference Wrestling Championships Dec. 16 at Starpoint High School.
In the end, three seconds was probably the difference between first and third for Evans. The freshman gambled in the final 10 seconds of his bout with reigning large school sectional champion Parker Rozler and came out on the short end.
Evans entered the tournament as the second seed at 113 pounds and wrestled other seeded wrestlers in each of his four bouts. Springville’s reigning small school sectional champion started with a 12-6 decision over Harith Alkalof of Sweet Home after receiving an opening-round bye.
“I had an opening-round bye in the first round and I was upset about that. I didn’t get to wrestle right away,” Evansa said. “I warmed up, I was ready only to find out I wasn’t wrestling. In my first bout after the bye, I wrestled a kid that I pinned the week before at the Springville Duals.”
In his lone blemish, Evans lost a close 8-6 decision to Rozler of Lancaster. Rozler was the third seed and the loss pushed Evans into the wrestle-back bracket with the highest potential being a third-place finish. Rozler advanced to the championship bout and finished second after losing a 4-2 decision to the bracket’s top-seed Aiden Rabideau of Clarence, who received the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler award of all ECIC wrestlers that included 15 weight classes.
“I knew I had a tough competition with the state rep and section large school champ Rozler. It was a close match all the way up until the end with the score tied 6-6,” Evans said. “I took a bad shot with 10 seconds left and he took me down to win 8-6 with just three seconds left.”
Evans had his most impressive win of the day against number 5 Ryan Sweeney of Iroquois with a 32-second pin, and finished the day with an 8-0 major decision over Yasser Esaleh of Sweet Home, to claim the third spot at 113 pounds for the tournament.
On his final two bouts, Evans admitted the frustration of losing to Rozler made him more tenacious in his remaining bouts with a quick pin and major decision.
“I got pretty upset after losing to Rozler and I wrestled all I could after that,” he said.
Evans is contemplating moving down a weight class and summed up his strategy for the rest of the season.
“I know what I have to work on, but I’ll be focusing on scoring as many points as I can moving forward,” he said.
Springville only brought four wrestlers to the tournament and Evans’ points were enough put the Griffs at number 22 of 24 teams overall.
None of the other three Griffs were able to advance beyond their first match that included Jared Hecht (120 pounds), Nate Cottom (126 pounds) and Jake Bystryk, who competed at 170 pounds although usually a 160 pound wrestler for most of this season. Both Bystryk’s and Cottom’s opponents advanced all the way to the consolation finals.