The defending North Shore Conference wrestling champs from Germantown got hit with the illness bug at the wrong time for its pivotal North Shore Conference dual meet with Port Washington on Jan. 19, and the Pirates took full advantage, as they used five forfeits to pave the way for a 48-28 win that all but sealed the league dual-meet crown for the Pirates.
"I thought we were the aggressors tonight," said Port coach Angelo LaRosa. "Even some of the matches we lost, we were the aggressors. The kids wrestled pretty hard tonight. This has been a good rivalry with these kids forever. We all really get after it. We're looking forward to seeing them again at conference (Feb. 3 at Whitefish Bay)."
The win kept the Pirates unbeaten in North Shore duals with a home match-up against Nicolet on Jan. 25 remaining.
Germantown coach Jeff Szohr took a glass-half-full approach to the outcome.
"The flu, ringworm, we were just caught at a bad time," he said, "but we'll be seeing Port a lot in the next few weeks, and so we'll see some of these great match-ups again and again. We could see these guys for four weeks straight (in certain matches)."
Port will be at the Homestead Scramble on Friday, Jan. 20, while the Warhawks will be at the Sheboygan North Invite on Saturday, Jan. 21..
Both teams will look to hone their skills and get ready for the big matches coming up.
Germantown had to forfeit 160 pounds and 170 pounds to Port right off the bat, putting the Pirates up, 12-0. They built on that advantage, as Lukas Burke earned an 11-3 major decision at 182. Another forfeit at 195 made it 22-0, and the die was pretty much cast for the rest of the evening.
The Warhawks received a huge emotional boost at 220, as sophomore Jack Pluta came off a broken leg to record a pin in 45 seconds to get Germantown on the board at 22-6. Szohr said Pluta had a rod inserted from his knee to his ankle, and this was absolutely the first day Pluta could have come back. Szohr also highlighted the work of Germantown trainer Jamie Pecha in helping the hard-working Pluta make a safe and quick recovery.
Germantown got another boost at 285, when senior Dominique Bennett, one of three seniors highlighted on the Warhawks' senior night, rallied for a reversal in the last minute and then pinned the Pirates' Cody Lewis at the 5:50 mark.
"That was really good for Dominique," said Szohr. "He's now winning matches in the third period, showing what he can do in the last minute. That shows he's gotten in better condition."
But that was the true high-water mark for Germantown, as another Warhawk forfeit at 106 was followed by a pair of Pirate wins on the mat. Blake Peiffer pinned his man in 1:58 at 113, and Oliver Rosado earned a third-period escape to claim a wild 16-15 decision over Germantown senior Kevin Tamboli at 120. When the Pirates picked up the last of the Warhawk forfeits at 126, they had effectively won the match at 43-12.
Junior 132-pounder Preston Makoutz added frosting on the cake, with an impressive second-period technical fall over the Warhawks' talented freshman, Isaac Riddle.
"He (Makoutz) had been a little banged up going into this match, so we really didn't know if we were going to have him," LaRosa said. "That match really showed what he's capable of. We know what we have in him, and he was exceptional tonight."
Germantown closed out the match with three straight wins, as Eric Abel, who was coming off the flu, rallied for a pin in 2:59 at 138, Mason Wheeler continued his dominant season at 145 with an 18-8 victory and senior Waymon McNeal celebrated his big night at 152 with a pin in 4:50.
Szohr said there's still hope for the Warhawks to defend their conference title but noted it will be an uphill battle.
"They're (the Pirates) still the favorite," he said. "They're so solid from 160 to 220, and Angelo (La Rosa) is a really good coach. We'll have our work cut out for us."
LaRosa added, "We're also looking forward to conference. It was nice that we came out on top tonight, but we'll have to work hard."