Gettysburg High wrestling coach Perry Smith was happy Thursday night.
No, the Warriors didn't win -- they lost 45-32 at home to Big Spring -- but they did exactly what he had hoped. And Smith wasn't afraid to say so, even if it may upset assistant coach Chris Haines.
"Coach Haines will get upset I said this, but you're never supposed to be happy with a loss," Smith said. "We told them a loss can be a win. In a lot of respects, the loss tonight will be a win for them. They start to believe in themselves a little bit that their hard work pays off."
The Warriors, who finished behind the Bulldogs in the Carlisle Holiday Invitational last weekend, jumped to an 11-0 lead behind Clay Kocsis' technical fall at 152 pounds and a pin by Mitchell Hoffman at 160.
Big Spring (2-2, 2-0 Mid-Penn Colonial) scored the next 16 points before the Warriors (1-1, 1-1) responded with consecutive wins at 220 and 285 to take a 20-16 lead. Gettysburg's Juan Perez earned his first career victory at heavyweight, which ended with a pin of Noah Rife in 1:34.
"When you get a match like that, it's back and forth," Smith said, "He puts a kid on his back, he's on his back, but he came out of it. We were excited. It's a huge lift for the entire team."
The momentum was short-lived, as Gettysburg forfeited 106 and 113 to give Big Spring a 28-20 lead it wouldn't lose.
"I'm not going to lie to you," Smith said. "It is huge. It's tough to overcome."
Gettysburg's Tyler Wilt pinned his opponent in 31 seconds at 126 and Josh Boehner received a forfeit at 138, but the Bulldogs won the other three matches. They did so without Dustin Rook, whom PennsylvaniaWrestlingRankings.com ranked No. 3 in Class AAA at 132 pounds at the end of last season and was wrestling at 138 this season.
"An unexpected hole, that's an excellent way to put it," Bulldogs coach Dave Cox said. "When you only have 19 guys, it's hard to fill those holes at the last second."
Cox, former head coach at South Western, was impressed with Gettysburg's performance.
"I didn't think we'd give up 32 points," he said. "They got a couple falls where I thought we might even win. Like at 220, I thought we had a good shot at winning. We almost won at heavyweight."
Smith hopes Thursday's moral victory is just a steppingstone.
"These kids wrestled hard tonight," he said. "For right now, we'll take that and keep trying to build on it. You're never where you think you could be. But right now, I feel pretty good about this group of kids because of what their work ethic is and the way they performed here tonight."
firstname.lastname@example.org; 717-637-3736, extension 139. Twitter: @DanielPaulling.
BIG SPRING 45, GETTYSBURG 32
152 -- Clay Kocsis, Get, tech. fall Hank Donovan, 6:00 (19-4); 160 -- Mitchell Hoffman, Get, pinned Tim Hair, 0:50; 170 -- Cody Seibert, BiS, pinned Jake Sharrah, 1:46; 182 -- Danny Hockensmith, BiS, pinned Corey Hardman, 1:17; 195 -- Tommy Rayhart, BiS, maj. decision Scott Six, 14-5; 220 -- Giovani Alvarado, Get, dec. Micah Weaver, 10-8; 285 -- Juan Perez, Get, pinned Noah Rife, 1:34; 106 -- Josh Paisley, BiS, won by forfeit; 113 -- Josh Fauver, BiS, won by forfeit; 120 -- Tyler Wilt, Get, pinned Dylon Failor, 0:31; 126 -- Greg Warner, BiS, tech. fall Alex Fata, 5:39 (17-2); 132 -- Wyatt Keck, BiS, pinned Maurricio Sanjuan, 1:15; 138 -- Josh Boehner, Get, won by forfeit; 145 -- Chad Wickard, BiS, pinned Jesse Stouch, 3:00.