HOUSTON – Avella senior Jake Temple paced back and forth on the mat, a frenetic ball of energy.
His opponent, Ellwood City junior Mike Sinclair kept looking longingly into the crowd as trainers worked to clean the massive amounts of blood from his exploded nose off his body.
It was obvious at that moment Sinclair would rather be just about anywhere else than on the mat with Temple, who was dominating him in their 220-pound championship bout at the WPIAL Section 1-AA Individual wrestling tournament at Chartiers-Houston High School.
It was a far different cry from their previous meeting a couple of weeks ago in the Section 1-AA team tournament when Temple, the Observer-Reporter’s top-ranked wrestler at 220 pounds, and Sinclair went into overtime before the Avella senior had his hand raised in a 7-2 decision.
This time around, Temple jumped out to a 5-1 first-period lead, turning Sinclair once, and then beat him up in the second period, locking up cradles to turn him three more times.
The bout had to be stopped numerous times in the second period when blood began flowing from Sinclair’s nose like water dripping from a snow-covered roof on a warm day. It covered the mat, Sinclair and Temple, who finished the Ellwood City junior off in a 15-4 victory, scoring one more takedown as time expired.
The win raised Temple’s record to 31-0 and sent a message he plans on winning a second consecutive WPIAL championship when the tournament begins next weekend.
“I’m just ready to go. It doesn’t matter who I’m going after, who I wrestle,” said Temple, who is 133-9 in his career and closing in on Avella’s all-time victory record.
“I like the sport. I like training for it. I like wrestling. Every kid out here wants to win. It’s just who wants to win the most out of all of them. I’m ready to go into the WPIAL (tournament) and hopefully get a gold medal there.”
Temple said he learned some things from the first time he wrestled Sinclair that could help him to that end.
In their first meeting, Sinclair did a nice job fighting off body shot attempts by Temple. This time around, however, Temple dropped to the leg more often and used his power to rule the day.
“I’ve been working in practice on dropping back down to the ankle,” Temple said. “In a lot of my matches this year, I’ve taken eight or nine shots on kids on the body and ended with nothing. I’ve been working in practice on dropping to the ankle and working from there. It’s a lot easier to fight a leg rather than the whole body. That’s really all I’ve been working on in practice the whole week is dropping down to the ankle. I wanted to get that win bad.”
And as he continues to win, the pressure will continue to mount. But Temple seems OK with that.
“Yeah. Actually, I do,” Temple said when asked if there was extra pressure involved with being unbeaten. “Being undefeated, really, I don’t think about that much because it’s just a record. I consider undefeated as going out on the mat every time and showing that you deserve to be undefeated. Everybody has their bad days. Luckily, I haven’t been beaten so far. I hope to finish the season that way.”
Temple wasn’t the only wrestler to take an unblemished record to the mat Saturday. South Fayette’s Mike Carr also kept his perfect mark in place, moving to 32-0 with an 18-2 win over Freedom’s Dean Ward in the 132-pound final.
Carr was one of four Lions to win their respective weight classes, as teammates Brett Beltz (145), Grant Fetchet (152) and Jared Walker (160) also took home gold from this event.
Fetchet had perhaps the best bout of the finals, scoring a reversal on South Park’s Greg Bulsak and then turning him with 30 seconds remaining to break a 2-2 tie and come away with a 7-2 victory.
Also winning section titles were Burgettstown’s Austin McDermitt (113), South Park’s Dallas Bulsak (106), Ellwood City’s Brad Grinnen (195) and Adam Foreman (Hvy), Laurel’s Dalton Rosa (170), Carlynton’s Evan Ban (126) and Freddie McKissick (182) and Freedom’s Kody Komara (120).
The top five placewinners from each weight class advance to next weekend’s WPIAL tournament at Chartiers Valley.
Burgettstown advanced nine wrestlers, South Fayette and Avella eight, Chartiers-Houston seven and Fort Cherry four.