MTSU 34 Cumberland 17…Roberts Gets Big Pin in Front of Home Crowd
The MTSU Wrestling team defeated in-state rival Cumberland University with big wins at 184, 197, and 285 and with the help of lower weight forfeits by a score of 34-17 in front of a captive audience prior to the finals of the Beech Invitational in Hendersonville, TN on Dec 15th, 2012. High School wrestlers from 20 different schools from TN, KY, and AL got to witness Middle Tennessee’s 2 premier wrestling programs go at it just 2 weeks after Cumberland won the 2012 edition of the MTSU Alumni Duals in Smyrna.
Starting out the match at 125, Shane Shaffner (So, Kingsbury, 9-4, #9 NCWA) took a forfeit putting MT up 6-0. This spot has also been forfeited by Cumberland against Liberty in the Alumni Duals finals. At 133, Anthony Patnode (Jr, White House, 10-4, #5 NCWA) also took a forfeit and the score was now 12-0. The 141-lb match pitted 2 very solid wrestlers in Eric Feuerbacher (So, Blackman, 8-4, #10 NCWA) and Jake Williams (RSSo, Rio Rancho NM, 10-8, #7 NAIA). The match started with a flurry with Williams scoring the first takedown and Feuerbacher scoring a reversal. Williams soon got his own reversal to make the score 4-2 at the end of the first period. Cumberland chose down and score another reversal putting the pressure on Eric to come back in the 3rd period. Come back he did, scoring another reversal and 3 back points to briefly put him up 7-6 on the scoreboard. With 30 seconds to go in the match Williams got yet another reversal and 2 back points to seal the decision win at 10-7 making the team score MT 12 CU 3.
At 149, Gabe Gamadamis (Sr, Eastside GA, 8-7, #15 NCWA) faced his old team and a formidable opponent in Ethyn Holbrook (So, Fort Payne AL 5-11). There was much scoring in the first period with Holbrook going up 8-2 with 2 takedowns, a 3-pt nearfall and an escape to Gabe’s reversal. Selecting down to start the 2nd, Gamadamis quickly scored an escape and a subsequent takedown to cut the lead to 8-5, but relented a reversal to put Ethyn back up 10-5 to start the 3rd. Holbrook then got an escape and added a point for riding time to win by decision 12-5 making the team score MT 12 CU 6. Freshman Chad Isbell (Clarksville, 6-4, #13 NCWA) got a forfeit at 157 to extend the MTSU lead to 18-6.
The match of the night for Cumberland came at 165 where Everett Colbert (Jr, McGavock, 11-6, #6 NCWA) squared off against Jacob Shirley (RSJr, Harrison OH, 6-4). Colbert dominated in this match until the very end building up a 2-1 score in the first, followed by a 9-1 score in the 2nd by a reversal and 3-pt nearfall, another 2-pt nearfall and a second takedown. With the score at 12-2, and in a single leg position with 30 seconds remaining, Shirley pulled off a leg sweep that put Everett on his back. As the seconds ticked down Colbert fought hard to keep from the pinfall but Shirley proved true in his effort scoring literally a last-second pin at 6:59. This pulled the team score to MT 18 CU 12. A one-side affair at 174 put Cumberland within 1 point on the team score as Eziekiel Hunt (Jr, Dacula GA, 14-8, #6 NAIA) won by technical fall 15-0 over Rakim Talley (RSSo, Dickson Co, 6-6, #12 NCWA). Hunt overpowered Talley at will for much of the match and showed why he has a great shot at making the podium in the NAIA Championships next Spring.
The 184-lb match proved to be the linchpin for the Blue Raider victory. After losing the 165-lb match by last second pin and then losing by tech fall at 174 the Blue Raiders seemed deflated and it appeared that Cumberland would attain victory having the momentum and a great chance at victory at 184. Jonathan Roberts (So, Beech, 8-4, #7 NCWA) faced Aric Fernandez (Fr, Liberty FL, 13-13) in a grudge match from the Patriot Open in which Fernandez scored repeated nearfalls in the 2nd period to win by major decision. After the 1st period in this match, the score was 2-1 in favor of Roberts. Similar to the Patriot Open, Fernandez chose top and placed Jonathan in nearfall positions 4 different times to go into the 3rd with a 13-2 lead. Roberts wisely chose neutral to start the period and quickly scored a takedown and pinning combination to win a come-from-behind victory by fall in 5:26. The home Beech crowd erupted as the score moved back in MTSU’s favor 24-17.
Momentum is an odd thing…one little event can light a fire under a team and Michael LaBadie (So, East Stroudsburg South PA, 9-5, #3 NCWA) kept the fire burning scoring a decisive major decision against Kyle Frazier (Sr, Smyrna, 0-4) who bumped up to replace the injured Cody Linton (ranked #11 at 184). Linton had lost a close 4-2 decision to the defending National NCWA Champion, Aaron Thompson, from Liberty at the Alumni Duals. LaBadie took full advantage of the weight discrepancy building a 7-2 1st period lead which became 9-3 by the end of the 2nd. Early in the 1st, Frazier appeared to tweak his knee, which became a factor in the match. With a reversal and 3-pt nearfall in the 3rd, LaBadie sealed the Blue Raider victory making the team score MT 28 CU 17.
The heavyweight matchup featured Rashied Rayford (So, Southwind, 9-4, #4 NCWA) and Tyler Smith (So, Sonoraville GA 11-14). Smith had previously defeated Rayford by 2 points at the Patriot Open. After a 1st period that featured no points scored, Rashied chose down and got an escape in the first 30 seconds. The third period started with Tyler down and he scored an escape within 10 seconds. This match appeared to be headed to overtime until Rayford hit a sweet double overhook lateral drop near the edge of the mat putting Smith on his back and getting a fall at 5:36. The final team score sat at MTSU 34, Cumberland 17.
Notes: Wilson Central (coached by MTSU Assistant Coach and alumnus Kenneth Hammonds) won the Beech Invitational by 100 pts over their closest competitors Bob Jones (AL) with Beech in 3rd.
The victory by MTSU marks the 3rd win over an athletic department sponsored program since January 2012 with previous wins over Lindenwood-Belleville (22-21 on 1/6/12 at LU-B) and Marion Military Institute (36-15 on 12/1/12). Next up for the Blue Raiders is Central Baptist College (NAIA) on January 5, 2013 which will take place at Arlington H.S. in Arlington, TN.