It might have taken a little coaxing to get Austin Fife to come out for wrestling, but no one was happier to be inside Trinity’s gymnasium Wednesday night than the 6-6, 240-pound sophomore.
Fife pulled off a nice upset, pinning McGuffey’s Ryan Steinstraw in 1:39 of the heavyweight bout to help Trinity deliver a knockout to the Highlanders, 42-31, in a Section 4-A match in Class AAA.
Fife’s win set off a roar from the large crowd, and Michael Kolosky’s pin at 106 in the final bout of the dual meet made it an 11-point victory.
“I was nervous,” said Fife. “This is the best feeling.”
Fife was considering spending the winter lifting weights and working out to prepare for the football season. But Trinity head coach Mark Powell convinced him to come out for wrestling, a sport he had participated in for six seasons.
“He just wasn’t sure he wanted to wrestle this year, because he wanted to get stronger for football,” said Powell. “We are training him the right way, and he can be really dangerous. I’m proud of him, and I’m proud of all our guys.”
Fife had even more pressure on him for the bout when Powell decided to forfeit at 220, giving the Highlanders (0-1, 1-1) a 31-30 lead. Steinstraw had a 21-10 record last season and, interestingly, transferred from Trinity to McGuffey at the start of the 2012 school year.
“This win means a lot to me,” said Fife. “Everyone was coming up and telling me good job. That felt good.”
Trinity (1-0, 1-1) led by as much as 14 points midway through the match, thanks to two pins and two decisions. Tristan Buxton opened the dual meet with a thrilling pin of McGuffey’s Gage Nicolella at 113. Nicolella had beaten Buxton the previous two times the two wrestled, and the Trinity senior trailed 1-0 with 11 seconds to go when he took Nicolella down and pinned him with three seconds remaining.
“It all started with Buxton,” said Powell.
Geno Cecchine got the other pin for Trinity, sticking Bailey McAdoo in 5:09 at 132 to make it 18-4.
But McGuffey rallied with pins from Erik Whitfield at 145, James Hubley at 170 and Nathan Whipkey at 182. Suddenly, the Highlanders had a 25-24 lead with four bouts left.
Robert West, Trinity’s talented 195 pounder, chased Liam McElhoes for most of the match before connecting on a headlock and pinning him with just four seconds remaining.
“The mark of a good team is not giving up falls,” said McGuffey head coach Mark Caffrey. “We gave up too many to win the match. They wrestled much better than us. We didn’t give up. We were in the match until the very end. It’s the kind of match you like to win.”
Justin Ritter (160) also had a pin for Trinity, which was coming off a 45-24 loss to Greensburg Salem in a non-section match.
“We stayed off our backs, and I think we just wanted it more,” said Powell. “You should see how hard we train. I know how hard we train. We have a better coaching staff than some Division I schools, and we are in better shape than other teams. It was electric out there and a lot of fun.”