BENNINGTON -- Even though the NHSCA wrestling tournament ended on a sour note for Mount Anthony senior Jesse Webb and coach Scott Legacy, the three days in Virginia Beach was successful for the future and present of the MAU wrestling program.
Webb finished his career with more than 230 wins and only 10 losses -- nearly half of which came at the national tournament.
Facing Seaford, N.Y.'s James O'Hagen in the final, the match went to the Ultimate tie-breaker knotted at 2-2. O'Hagen chose the down position and escaped seconds later to win the national title.
"Neither could hold on top, both were explosive," Legacy said. "The last time they wrestled, Jesse got a body lock for a [takedown], but the kid snuck out this time. It came down to a flip of the disk."
After the match, Webb had a simple message for Legacy and assistant coach Brian Coon: "I need to work harder and get better."
"He wasn't happy about the outcome, he was aggravated," Legacy said. "He dictated the pace of the match and left it all out there."
Before the senior finals, Webb was named as the Jeff Blatnick sportsmanship award winner, an honor only given to one person in the entire tournament -- more than 3,500 wrestlers.
"They've been watching him for four years, either here at NHSCA, Fargo, Super 32," Legacy said. "They like the way he approaches wrestling, his demeanor around the arena ... he symbolizes what Blatnick was all about."
In the 120-pound junior tournament, Troy Gassaway finished sixth after winning seven consolation matches in a row.
"He had a strong run back, after he was knocked out [of the winners bracket] on Friday, he was determined to come back," Legacy said. "Every match is intense, you're fighting to [continue the tournament]. He stepped up and beat a returning All-American from North Carolina, then beat the New York kid that beat him the day before."
In the fifth place match, Gassaway was pinned for only the 11th loss in his career against more than 170 victories.
"He ran out of gas in the 5th-6th match and he got turned at the end," Legacy said. "This is fire for next year."
Mount Anthony Middle School seventh grader Tyson Sauer turned his first appearance on the national stage into gold with an eighth-place finish, becoming the second straight MAU middle-schooler to place at Nationals.
"He wrestled at such a high level, even in his losses, he was right in the match," Legacy said. "His intensity level was the best it was all season, the stage didn't seem too big for him. It's a great confidence booster."
Senior Austin Price and junior Tyler Mattison were each a match from the placement round, each with wicked brackets to navigate. Price was an All-American last year with an 8th-place finish.
"195 was a nasty weight class, but [Tyler] was knocked right at the door," Legacy said. "And Austin, it was heartbreaking, he was hitting singles and doubles, but the kid had a great defensive style, fighting off hold after hold."
Legacy said he was also happy with Tyler Raetz at 113 in the sophomore division and also Darren Ruiz Sauer at 145 in the junior division.
"Tyler won his first two, then got into a [tight] match and was forced into a bad position," Legacy said. "He was laying it out there, he could have relied on his conditioning.
"And Darren turned the corner in a loaded weight class, lost to the Florida state champion from Brandon, but he put together some great wins, took himself to a different level," Legacy said.