Solanco swept the final three bouts by fall to defeat Donegal 37-30 Thursday evening, February 8 in the final wrestling dual meet of the season.
Trailing 30-19 after a no-contest at heavyweight, the Mules' Dominic Flatt (106), Weston Bare (113), and Jared Fulton (126) recorded pins to give Solanco the victory in a tune-up for this weekend's sectional tournament.
"The win was nice," Solanco coach Tony Mendez said. "But more importantly than the win was just the overall performance by our team. Overall, the whole team wrestled well. Friday and Saturday [Feb. 14-15] is sectionals and obviously that's what we're trying to prime for, that's the biggest thing. The win's nice, too. I thought we came out here and we battled."
The Mules prevailed in the first four bouts to take a 19-0 lead. Jackson Houghton (126) scored a pin in 3:05. Senior Joey Vandegriff triumphed by a 14-4 major decision in the final home bout of his career. Ronnie Fulton (138) won by fall in 39 seconds and Steven Williams (145) notched a 7-5 decision.
Solanco is optimistic heading into the postseason. "Our expectations are really high," said Mendez. "I think we're doing the right things in the [practice] room and guys who had some upsets early in the season can turn them around. I don't have a number as to how many guys will advance to regionals. I'm just going in with the idea we're going to put on our very best performance. The entire season comes down to right now. I want your best performance and take it one match at a time."
The sectional tournament will be hosted by Hempfield. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the regional tournament. Coming off a fourth place finish in the league meet led by individual champions Flatt and Ronnie Fulton, the Mules appear to be peaking at the right time.
"That's always your goal, not that it always works out that way," Mendez said. "[Former Solanco coach] John Little was my mentor for all those years. That was always his thing, trying to peak the guys at the end. I spent 18 years with him and learned a lot about some of the things you have to do and adjust to in order to get the guys at the right place at the right time."