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After two years of battling older, stronger, more experienced wrestlers, Delone Catholic junior Damian Rodriguez is emerging as a key cog in the Squires' lineup.

After a 5-0 day at the Canner Duals last weekend, the 220-pounder eclipsed his win total from last season by pinning Hanover's Aaron Bowman on Thursday night in a match that essentially sealed a 51-27 Delone Catholic dual meet victory. Rodriguez took a 7-0 lead in the first period before finishing off Bowman for good in the final minute of the second period.

“I’m getting older, I feel stronger, I haven’t had to cut as much weight because I know what to do to stay healthy," Rodriguez said about his strong start to the season. "I get to wrestle people like Bryce Perkins and Brian Shermeyer every day, so I get great experience wrestling kids who like to shoot a lot and kids who are heavyweights that like to throw you around.”

Rodriguez, who also plays football, underwent surgery last spring to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The school's strength coaches have worked with him since then to help him rehab and regain his strength and he feels stronger than ever, he said.

“When I came back from that, I realized, ‘I don’t have much time left in high school, so I might as well give it my all, all the time,’" he said. "When that hit me, I just started going hard all the time no matter what.”

Perkins, a heavyweight, extended the Squires' lead by following Rodriguez's pin with his own pin in just 19 seconds. He said it's the third-fastest pin of his career and that he did in fact break a sweat.

“I sweat a lot, so I did a little bit,” he said with a smile. "I'm just aggressive off the whistle; I take it to them and see what happens.”

Prior to their pins, Sean Sneeringer came back from a 4-1 deficit to pin Josh Ledbetter at 195 pounds and give Delone Catholic its biggest lead to that point at 30-21.

“I feel like Sean’s pin was so much more important than mine," Rodriguez said. "Seeing Sean get that pin just fired me up and I knew I was going out there and getting one no matter what.”

Cody Pfaff and Brendan Quinn also had pins for Delone Catholic early in the dual after the Squires fell behind 15-0 after three matches. Roberto Salazar recorded Hanover's only pin by coming back from a 5-0 deficit to pin Dimitri Partenza in the first period at 126 pounds.

After fielding a full team last month, the Nighthawks had to forfeit three matches due to multiple wrestlers leaving the team.

“We’ve had some kids decide that wrestling just wasn’t what they thought it was," Hanover coach Kurt Brenner said. "Unfortunately they chose to go some other ways, and I wish them the best of luck, but it would’ve been really nice to have our entire team fight against Delone. That’s a good team and the forfeits are really what killed us.”

Delone Catholic 51, Hanover 27

at Delone Catholic High School

126 — Roberto Salazar (H) pinned Dimitri Partenza 1:46. 132 — Caleb Garland (H) win by forfeit. 138 — Zach Barnes (H) dec. Ryan Hart 4-0. 145 — Cody Pfaff (DC) pinned Donovan Holmes 0:58. 152 — Brendan Quinn (DC) pinned Ely Hart 3:03. 160 — Brian Shermeyer (DC) win by forfeit. 170 — Justin Barnes (H) inj. def. Zach Hart. 182 — Brady Repasky (DC) win by forfeit. 195 — Sean Sneeringer (DC) pinned Josh Ledbetter 3:23. 220 — Damian Rodriguez (DC) pinned Aaron Bowman 3:26. 285 — Bryce Perkins (DC) pinned Anthony Shindledecker 0:19. 106 — Andrew Knobloch (DC) win by forfeit. 113 — Robert Partenza (DC) dec. Colton Angel 5-2. 120 — Trey Wolfe (H) win by forfeit.

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