First-year South Western High wrestling head coach Brad Zeigler stepped into an unenviable position this season.
He would have to build a team that lost Cameron Throckmorton to graduation -- he's currently wrestling on a club team at the University of North Carolina -- and Max Good, who transferred to Cedar Cliff High.
The construction process appears to be going well after South Western's 43-24 road win against New Oxford.
"With losing guys like that, we had a lot of guys step up and kind of encourage the younger guys," Zeigler said. "I think it brought everyone together. I know wrestling's an individual sport, but, when the day's over, it's still a team sport. Losing guys like that is unfortunate, but we got guys coming
One of those wrestlers is former Colonial Brandon Lookinbill, who lost an 8-6 decision to Joel Zepp in the 138-pound bout for the Mustangs (3-1, 3-1 YAIAA I). After competing with Zeigler and South Western assistant coach Neil Dutterer in youth programs at Hanover, Lookinbill wrestled his sophomore year at New Oxford before transferring for his junior year to South Western. He competed early in the season before leaving the team and rejoining the Mustangs this year.
"He's really stepped up in the room," Zeigler said. "He's been a good kid who has followed through. To have him come back and step up was nice."
South Western guaranteed itself a win early in the match because New Oxford (2-2, 2-2) had to forfeit five matches. Two of those came because Austin McMaster and Cory Bixler were out with what Colonials coach Neil Conaway called an "undisclosed thing."
The five forfeits -- against just one by the Mustangs -- put the Colonials in a 24-point deficit.
"We just tell them, 'Look, we're in the doggone, freaking trench,'" Conaway said. "'We're going to battle our way out. We're going to try to make the most out of this team.'"
He set a goal for his team to win more head-to-head bouts in each dual. The Colonials took five of the eight matches not decided by a forfeit.
"That's how you have to approach it," Conaway said.
The match started -- not surprisingly -- with South Western's Aram Moffitt receiving a forfeit at 220. Heavyweight Devon Ackerman then pinned Robert Bingle in just 1 minute, 14 seconds for a 12-0 Mustang lead.
South Western took the next two matches before New Oxford's Guy Nitchman earned a 9-3 decision at 120 to make the score 22-3.
The Colonials scored nine of the next 12 points to cut the margin to 25-12, but they wouldn't be able to draw closer because they had just three wrestlers for the next six bouts.
"I'm real pleased with the lineup we're putting out there," Conaway said. "We just need to find someone to fill the holes."
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at New Oxford
SOUTH WESTERN 43, NEW OXFORD 24
106 -- Logan Feeser, SW, maj. decision Lake Laughman, 12-4; 113 --Cole Sterrett, SW, won by forfeit; 120 -- Guy Nitchman, NO, dec. Peyton Mowery, 9-3; 126 -- Slade Storm, NO, won by forfeit; 132 -- Aaron Dul, SW, dec. Anthony Lippy, 6-2; 138 --Joel Zepp, NO, dec. Brandon Lookinbill, 8-6; 145 --Bobby Wildasin, SW, won by forfeit; 152 --Colton Rebert, SW, won by forfeit; 160 --Shane Hoff, NO, pinned Dakotah Moses, 3:02; 170 --Charlie Hoffman, SW, dec. Brady Shultz, 2-1; 182 --Brody Honeycutt, NO, dec. A.J. Jones, 5-2; 195 --Jerome Beers, SW, won by forfeit; 220 -- Aram Moffitt, SW, won by forfeit; 285 -- Devon Ackerman, SW, pinned Robert Bingle, 1:14.