HOOSICK, N.Y. -- Hoosick Falls Central School senior wrestler Gregg Pirie stepped on the mat for his 145-pound match on Saturday afternoon against Whitehall-Fort Ann and prepared to face his final home contest of his Panther career.
Pirie, who has bounced around between the JV and varsity, was one of six seniors honored before the match. Competing against Lucas Morse, Pirie took the early lead, then gave it up with Morse scored a takedown of his own in the second period.
In the third period, Morse escaped fora 3-2 lead, but with 54 seconds remaining and the home crowd at full roar, Pirie scored the eventual winning takedown and held on for the 4-3 win.
It was that effort that was the turning point in the Panthers' 40-31 team win over the Railroaders.
"Gregg has been in our program since 7th grade," said Hoosick Falls coach Landon Nelson. "He never misses practice, you can always count on him. Unfortunately there are three tough seniors in that weight class, so he's always battling for that spot."
Nelson tried to get matches for all six of his seniors, sliding some of his usual middleweights around to accomodate.
"He won the spot and came out with a big win for us, I think he wanted to leave it all on the mat. He was mentally tough, pulled through and came out on top," Nelson said.
Starting the match at 99 pounds, Whitehall took a 10-0 lead after a forfeit and a major decision, but Hoosick Falls took a lead it wouldn't relinquish with Nolan Foster and Luis Weierbach each bumping up a weight class and scoring pins at 120 and 126 pounds, respectively.
Foster improved to 31-4 with his fall, while the senior Weierbach moved to 33-4.
"I'm really proud of the seniors, everyone did their job today and Coach stresses that," Weierbach said.
The momentum stayed with Hoosick into the next handful of matches, with Tom Peabody scoring a 6-0 win over John Bressette at 132 pounds and Mike Matatt grabbing six points with a forfeit at 138. That gave the Panthers a 21-10 lead going to the 145-pound match.
"It's important to get a good start, it's interesting how momentum works," Weierbach said. "Nolan started it and set the tone, it's infectious because the next guy feels they have to do it for the team, that trickles down through the rest of the lineup."
After Pirie's win gave Hoosick a 24-10 lead, Whitehall gained six points back on a Julian Barber pin over Tyler Rondeau at 152.
At 160, Colby Davendonis trailed 6-2 after two periods against Jake Gregory. Davendonis allowed a takedown early in the third, but started to come back, hitting a reversal and two takedowns of his own to pull within 10-8, but that's as close as he would get against the 21-3 Gregory. Davendonis dropped to 21-8 on the year.
"Their [160 and 182 pounders] are real tough. It's a great thing to see that we're in top shape and more conditioned than our opponents, Colby still had a full tank in the third period," Nelson said. "Another 30 seconds and Colby wins that match. He wrestled tough."
Garrett Wright straightened the ship at 170, scoring a 13-2 major decision over Cody Garner to extend the lead to 28-19 and clinch the match as forfeits in the heavy weights benefitted the Panthers. At 182 pounds, senior Derek Bird fell in 3:10 to Brandon Steves.
Now, the postseason begins with the Class C tournament on Saturday in Granville.
"This is the time we're peaking, momentum carries from match to match and week to week," Weierbach said. "We have [the Class C tournament] next week, we want to make a statement in the class and section."
In the second half of the tri-meet, Hoosick Falls topped Cambridge 66-6. Contested wins came from Foster, Nick Schrom, Davendonis, Shane Richard, Bird and Shane Barss. The only winner for Cambridge came at 220 pounds, when Nate Winchester pinned Jake Pine in the second period. Bird topped Chris Couture 3-1 in sudden-death OT at 182 and Barss beat Indians' eighth grader Colton Dean at 195 pounds, 6-5.