Dragons repeat as Classic champs

Sunday, December 16, 2001

Sure he was the No. 1 seed, but the odds were not in James Love's favor.

The Jackson senior suffered a knee injury during football season and got a very late start on the wrestling campaign.

Friday night, in a second-round match, Love, still not in wrestling shape, barely survived an upset 3-2. Things were not looking good at that point.

Then bad turned to worse Saturday in the semifinals when he re-injured his knee. He won the match, but it was undetermined whether he would be able to wrestle in the championship.

Jackson coach Steve Wachter made a last-minute decision to let his 152-pounder try for his first Tiger Classic title.

And Love prevailed.

Love beat the odds, his injury and exhaustion and became one of three Jackson wrestlers to win a championship at the 27th annual Tiger Classic Saturday.

Ste. Genevieve easily took the team crown with a whopping 278 points. Jackson took second with 205, edging Lindbergh (192.5 points) for third. Cape Central finished tied for 12th with 59 points.

Brock Howard (112 pounds) and Seth Harrell (215) also won titles for Jackson.

Love had his back to the mat for the final 10 seconds of the match, but he held on for a 7-6 victory over Ste. Genevieve's Todd Gegg.

"I feel blessed and overwhelmed to finally win it," said Love, who took second place last year. "The knee bothered me a little but, but I pushed through it."

"I know he's not full go," Wachter said. "But he did a great job and he wrestled a great kid. It was a great match for both of them."

Howard won his second straight title, though last year he won it at 103 pounds.

This year, he knocked off Northwest's Mike Chandler 4-0. Brock beat Chandler by technical fall earlier this year.

"I didn't get him on his back as much," said Brock, who improved to 17-0. "Last time, I got most of my points on the mat."

Harrell's 4-2 win over Murphysboro's Joey Youngberg went down until the final 10 seconds, when Harrell recorded a take-down.

"It was an ugly match," said Harrell, who took fourth at 189 pounds last year. "I was wrestling cautiously and he was too. But there comes a point where you have to be offensive."

Though the match went down to the final ticks, Wachter wasn't too worried.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "Seth's good on his feet and just knowing him as a wrestler, I had a feeling he'd have a take-down at the end. But, at the same time, you never know what's going to happen."

Also for Jackson, Paul Feiner (103) took fifth place; Cody Rouse (130) took second place; Ricky Feiner (140) took second; Justin Rice (145) took third; Lance Berry (160) took fifth; Matt Kahle (189) took fifth; and Luke Wade took third at heavyweight.

"It was a great team effort," Wachter said. "We had some kids take seventh and that ended up making a difference in the end."

For Cape Central, Trever Duncan took second place, falling in a tough match, 12-8, to Class 3A runner-up Jared Stolin of St. Charles.

Duncan, trying to become Cape Central's first Tiger Classic champion since 1993, nearly pinned Stolin midway through the second period.

"Taking second to that kid is nothing to be ashamed of," Central coach Josh Crowell said. "I thought Trever wrestled a phenomenal match."

"I thought I wrestled pretty good," Duncan said. "I made some minor mistakes and a could've done better on a couple things."

When asked how close he was to pinning Stolin, Duncan replied, "Close. But not close enough."

Central's senior heavyweight Chris Smith, wrestling in his first tournament, took fifth place.

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