With three forfeits looming later in the match, Geneseo knew if it stayed close to Rock Island, it likely would pull away and win the wrestling opener for both teams Wednesday at Rock Island Fieldhouse.
But just for good measure, Davenport Assumption transfer Jayden Erdman, a junior wrestling his first varsity match for the Leafs at 152, pinned Devin Phillips at the 3:36 mark to tie the match and get the Leafs on their way.
And when Geneseo’s Josh Decker won by injury default at 160 over Rock Island’s Jaiden VanCaille, who appeared to suffer a stinger, and the Leafs’ Henderson followed with the first forfeit win at 170, the match turned. What had been a 19-13 Rock Island lead was suddenly a 31-19 Geneseo advantage.
“That was a good turnaround,” said Geneseo coach Jon Murray, whose team went on to win 46-22. “They showed pretty good guts. Some of these kids on our team, it’s the first time I ever saw them wrestle varsity, and I was pretty impressed with what I saw as far as the guts that they showed.”
Maple Leafs freshman Clay DeBaille also got a pin at the 4:52 mark at 113 pounds, and freshman Logan Tuttle earned a hard-fought 10-9 win over the Rocks’ Zaire Yusuf at 126.
“DeBaille and Logan Tuttle, along with Erdman all showed a lot of guts out there,” Murray said.
The Maple Leafs also got a major decision victory from Andrew Rizzo at 138 and forfeit wins from Ethan McElvain at 195 and Billy Blaser at 285.
“He works real hard in the off-season,” Murray said of Rizzo. “He’s a real wrestler.”
But the most interesting story for the Leafs was Erdman.
“It was great that we tied up the score,” said Erdman who wrestled junior varsity mostly for Assumption. “It was my second varsity match ever. So it was my first varsity pin, my first win. It was really exciting. I am glad I got to do it for the team.”
The Rocks got wins from Trevor Dennis, via a major decision at 106; Michael Myers at 120; veteran Victor Guzman via a pin at 132; and fellow veteran Alex Gant quickly at 145, plus a major decision from Jesse Linch at 182.
“Even with those forfeits, we got outwrestled,” said Rock Island coach Joel Stockwell, not allowing any excuses. He added, though, juniors Linch and Dennis got a pair of "good wins."
“Trevor Dennis, this is his first varsity experience, so it was good for him to get a win right off the bat," Stockwell said. "We are looking for big things from those guys. Hopefully, they will help carry us throughout the year.”