by Dan Farfaglia
Coach Gene Mills has built the Phoenix Firebirds wrestling program into a premier powerhouse in Section 3 wrestling.
That was obvious this past Wednesday.
Before a packed gym at G. Ray Bodley High School and live television coverage once again provided by Time Warner Cable, history was made on a few different fronts.
The defending Division Two state champions defeated the Fulton Red Raiders by a score of 61-16. It was the first time that Fulton lost on its own turf since 2002 and the first by a Section 3 Team since 1987.
Also, in regards to the lopsided score at the end, 40 or more years may have passed since an opposing team won by such a large margin.
History also repeated itself with new Fulton coach Chris Stalker making his debut at home with a loss. Former coach Mike Conners suffered a similar fate back in the 1987-1988 school year.
It was anticipated that it was going to be a difficult night for the host school due to the fact that three key starters were out of the lineup. Mitch Woodworth (112 pounds), Tom Hill (120 pounds) and Austin Whitney (126 pounds) weren’t available due to injuries and other issues.
The action began at 152 pounds with Phoenix state champion Nick Tighe winning by technical fall over senior captain Mike DeMauro.
At 160 pounds, Rowdy Prior pinned Fulton’s Sam Rios in the second period. Phoenix kept its momentum going with three more pins provided by Justin Rhodes (170 pounds), William Hillard (182 pounds) and Mike Mironti (195 pounds) over Ryan Hall, Todd Oakes, and Matt Marshall, respectively.
Phoenix had acquired 29 points before Fulton finally got on the board. At 220 pounds, senior captain Derek Owen won by a takedown in over time. At 285 pounds, the Red Raiders’ Brennan Roberge got the only pin of the night for his team, pinning Derrick Button in 27 seconds.
At 99 pounds, the Firebirds` Jason Nipper pinned Joey Albelgore in the second period. Fulton was able to get four team points when Kirby LaBeef won by a major decision 8-0 over Alex Brutcher at 106 pounds.