If you were on the campus of St. Andrews University the afternoon of Nov. 7, chances are you were immediately drawn to it.
More than 100 Students, faculty, Knights’ athletes and curious onlookers all took a break from their daily schedule to investigate the commotion taking place outside of the University’s athletic department.
The source of the commotion was the Knights’ first-ever outdoor home wrestling match, which also marked the program’s first home event of the 2012-13 season. And though the Knights would fall to their Belmont Abbey competition by an overall match score of 28-11, wrestling coach Joe Baranik was excited by the energy buzzing about the campus on that day.
“It was like the Thrilla in Manila out there,” said Baranik with a laugh as he referenced the famous bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier which took place in 1975. “I wish we could’ve given the crowd a better show, but on the whole it was great to see everyone out here supporting us.”
The outdoor wrestling event has become a newly-established tradition between the Knights and Belmont Abbey, as St. Andrews defeated the Crusaders 26-18 last season outdoors on their campus.
But this year, the Knights entered their home match with Belmont Abbey short-handed, which resulted in three different wrestlers (Sterling Perry, Trent Harris and Jared Key) wrestling up several weight-classes. And while the Knights yielded zero pinfalls against the Crusaders on Oct. 7, Belmont Abbey would ultimately outlast St. Andrews down the final stretch of the 10 matches which took place that day.
In the second match of the afternoon, St. Andrews 133-pound senior Danny Wells caused the crowd on hand to erupt when he took down opponent Markus Almeida at the two-minute mark in the first period. Effectively utilizing a Fireman’s Carry, Wells would take down Almeida again in the first period to earn a 4-1 advantage heading into the second. Almeida battled back in the second period with a takedown of his own to pull within a point of Wells, but the St. Andrews senior would effectively close out the match with a takedown and three-point near-fall in the third and deciding period to take the match 9-4.
After Knights’ freshman Mario Vega accepted a forfeit in the 141-pound weight class, it was time for perhaps the strongest wrestler on the St. Andrews squad to take the mat.
On Saturday Nov. 3, senior Kody Getkin represented the Knights in grand fashion at the “Citadel Open,” a tournament featuring several wrestlers from the NCAA and NAIA. In that season-opening event, Getkin led the team with four wins en route to finishing within the top-6 wrestlers that took part in the tournament.
Against the Crusaders’ Trey Alley Wednesday afternoon, Getkin would not disappoint, as the 149-pounder earned his team its’ most decisive victory of the match with a convincing 23-7 technical fall. The win gave St. Andrews the 11-6 overall advantage over Belmont Abbey.
However, it was to be the Knights’ last victory of the afternoon.
The most difficult leg of the match made its’ presence felt following Getkin’s tech fall, starting with Perry’s clash with Jake Varilek, a former All-American and the most decorated wrestler on Belmont Abbey’s roster. Usually accustomed to wrestling at the 141-pound weight class, the senior opted to take on the 157-pound Varilek.
While he competed admirably against Varilek, only trailing 4-1 entering the third period, Varilek would explode in the final minutes of the match with a pair of takedowns and an escape to earn the four point, 9-2 victory over Perry.
The loss sparked a series of definitive wins for the Crusaders as they piled on the points against St. Andrews.
Yet, the Knights never stopped competing, best evidenced by the final match on the card which featured Key (wrestling up nearly 100 pounds) taking on 285-pound Kelly Baker.
In the first period, Baker would get flagged for two illegal full nelsons to give Key points in the scoring column, which Key capitalized upon by earning a go-ahead takedown in the final minute to give him the 4-3 early edge.
From there, the two grapplers jockeyed for position and earned stalemate after stalemate, which resulted in a scoreless second and third period for both Key and Baker. Riding time would be awarded to Baker at the end of the third, which resulted in a 4-4 tie and an overtime period. Baker sealed the match-closing win with a two-point takedown to earn the 6-4 victory and set the final 28-11 score in stone.
“We started out strong, but at a certain point you could see the wind was out of our sails,” Baranik said. “The two things we need to work on from here are fundamentals and getting meaner. We weren’t mean and aggressive enough out there today.”
The Knights will next travel to the “UNC-Pembroke Open” which takes place Nov. 10 at 9 a.m.