There’s an old expression that goes "a tie is like kissing your sister."
Sometimes, however, a tie is better than the alternative.
The scoreboard read 36-36 after all 14 matches were complete in Wednesday’s Colonial Conference Liberty Division wrestling showdown between West Deptford High School and rival Haddonfield, but a winner still needed to be determined. One by one, the official and the two head coaches went down the list of credential tiebreakers, hoping to find one that would end the deadlock.
Total wins didn’t do it. Pins didn’t either.
Finally, on the eighth tiebreaker—total first points—a winner was announced. By scoring first in eight of the 14 matches, that winner was Haddonfield.
“You never like a loss, but these ones sting a little more,” said West Deptford coach Christian Scannell. “You go through the woulda, shouldas, and it stings. It stings more than any other type of loss.”
Haddonfield got a pin from Alex Klein (220 pounds) and a decision by Charlie O’Neil to take a 36-27 lead with two matches left, but West Deptford closed with a pin from sophomore Griffin Bonner and a 5-0 decision from junior Dustin Zuzulock to tie the match.
All that was left was the long wait and eventually disappointment.
“It’s tough, especially when you are coming off a big pin and a good match from Dustin,” said Bonner. “(Senior) Christian Terinoni said it was like déjà vu. His freshman year they lost on criteria, too. It’s tough to lose to a rival high school. It’s kind of diminishing.”
In a match where every single point can be scrutinized, Griffin pointed to the five pins the team gave up as a main culprit.
“People need to crack down on mat awareness and keeping their backs off the mat,” said Bonner, who improved to 9-1. “That’s kind of what cost us here. They tied us up on pins and you just can’t let that happen.”
For Haddonfield, the victory helps validate an excruciatingly difficult non-conference schedule that pitted the Bulldawgs against wrestling powerhouses St. Peters Prep, St. Joseph and St. Augustine.
Haddonfield coach Bill Heverly hoped the tough schedule would toughen his kids up and prepare them for any challenge they saw during conference action.
“I put them in a meat grinder the first couple of matches wrestling the toughest teams in the state,” Heverly said. “Even though we got blown out in some matches I feel like them being a young team, they showed a lot of toughness. They are still not wrestling their best, but they are gutting it out. (Wednesday night) just goes to show that they kept fighting. We were down in some matches and came back and got pins.”
The Eagles—who fell to 1-3—got pins from Bonner, Walt Vickery, Tyler Kaminski and Christian Terinoni as well as a injury default win from Rory Bonner after his much-anticipated bout with Henry Klaus was stopped in the first period due to blood.
West Deptford will have to stew on the loss for a couple of days before returning to the mat Saturday against Penns Grove and Lower Cape May.
Scannell knows it will take some time for his wrestlers to get over the defeat and hopes his team will use it as fuel to do better going forward.
“It will linger,” Scannell said. “I will leave some kids, hopefully, rather than feeling bad about themselves, with a chip on their shoulder for opportunities lost. Hopefully it is something that motivates them. That’s how we are going to have to turn it.”