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Sunset wrestling secures first ever Metro Title

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 138-pound wrestler Spencer Stokes scored the major decision victory over Aloha on Wednesday.

Over a half century of fruitless, frustrating Sunset wrestling history came down on the broad shoulders of one young Kincaid Crile, in a match the Apollo fans will be talking about 10 years from now.

When Crile checked in for his 220-pound match with Aloha’s Ricky Tilbury on Feb. 12, the Apollos were clinging to a 31-21 lead and coming on stronger by the match. Three Warriors had just won their matches, closing the gap on Sunset’s once considerable lead with 285-pound Cortez Rodelo waiting in the wings, and a possible chance to go for the team win if Crile didn’t walk away with a victory.

“I kept looking up at the scoreboard thinking, ‘It’s gonna come down to me’,” said Crile. “I was extremely nervous, but I just wrestled like it was a normal match. I got into a bad position, but I was glad to gut through it.”

With that, an undaunted, always gung-ho Crile escaped a possible pin attempt by Tilbury, spun the Warrior on his back and pinned the Aloha competitor with 21 seconds left to give Sunset a 36-21 lead. One Aloha pin later by Rodelo wasn’t enough to stop Sunset’s surge to the top of Metro, as the Apollos sealed their first ever League championship.

Pressure-packed might be the only justifiable way to describe what Crile was facing as both Aloha and Sunset’s sidelines came to their feet, knowing a Metro League championship hung in the balance and 54 bannerless years for the Apollos were on the line.

As the head referee pounded the canvas, signaling the fall and essentially the end of Sunset’s over-extended Metro drought, a charged-up Crile got to his knees and let out an animated holler in front of the standing ovation across from him.

“It was pure euphoria,” said Crile. “Looking up at the stands, seeing the home crowd rooting. And seeing my teammates and being surrounded by them, there’s nothing like it. I’m just thankful to be a part of it and have it turn out that way. That was a team effort tonight. I had a clutch match, I’m super excited about it. But, I wouldn’t have been in that position if we hadn’t wrestled hard all the way down the line. I’m happy I could help us out like that.”

Crile used a bridge move to get away from Tilbury, lifting his pelvis off the ground so that his body weight was supported on his shoulders (or head) at one end and on the feet at the other. Then, in the blink of an eye, Crile torpedoed Tilbury to the turf, flipping the Warrior to the mat for the fall. The victory, Crile said, was all about the initial bridge to escape Tilbury.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 113-pound Zach Morello won the first match of the night for the Apollos against Aloha, paving the way for Sunsets first ever Metro championship.

“I’m just thankful we worked on that all year in practice,” said Crile. “That’s just pure neck and pure will. It was really adrenaline taking over, but I’m glad because we’ve been working hard this year and that’s what allowed me to do that.”

To beat the champs, you gotta knock ‘em out.

The three-time defending Metro League champion Aloha wrestling team wouldn’t bow out without a brawl. Sunset knew this.

They came ready and equipped with 54 years worth of disappointment coercing them and used it to set a new precedent around the Apollo program.

“We’ve been dominant this entire year in Metro and we weren’t going to treat this like we were going to get stomped,” said Crile. “We were going to go out there and beat them.”

“To accomplish something that’s never been done before here at Sunset is something I’ll always remember,” added captain Spencer Stokes. “Not only did we earn it, but we deserve it. We put in the work and proved it. I think it was our time. It took all 14 guys. They all put in Metro League championship effort.”

Sunset lost the first match of the night, but proceeded to rattle off six straight wins beginning with Zach Morello’s pin of Andrew Basham in the 113 pound class. Morello said he had to keep taking Basham down before catching a half-nelson after a double leg takedown. And, wrestling with a controlled fury and passion, the lightweight was able to get the ball rolling on the Apollos’ fourth Metro win of the year.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 126-pound Grant Bingham goes to work against Aloha's Alex Ashbrook.

“People told me to ‘be Angry Morello’,” said Morello. “It’s just being really active and moving around and attacking all the time. It’s not giving up.”

Luke Batten, 126 pounds, Quinn Bingham, 132 lbs, Stokes 138 lbs, and Matt VanBrabant all won by major decision or decision to help Sunset build an early 24-3 lead.

“It was extremely important,” said Morello of the advantage. “We weren’t totally sure how we’d do at the higher weights, so we wanted to capitalize on the lower weights and get as many pins as possible.”

At first, Batten had a bear of a match against Austin Lawrence and nearly gave up the win in the first round. But, Batten got the points when he needed them and tacked on four team points for Sunset with the major decision, 12-2 win.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset 126-pound wrestler Luke Batten won his match by decision against Aloha on Wednesday to help the Apollo clinch the Metro League title.

“Every match was important,” said Batten. “The kids at the lower weights needed to start the match off right and get some momentum moving. When we started scoring points from (Morello) all the way up to 170, all those points ended up helping and getting us momentum. It was hard for Aloha to stop that. Even the heavier guys who lost their matches, they just needed to go out and wrestle as hard as they could for six minutes and not get pinned.”

Stokes scored a major decision by maintaining his feet throughout the match and cleaning up Aloha’s Casey Wight—a state competitor from last year.

“I tried to wrestle my match,” said Stokes. “I wrestled hard, kept going. He balled up on the bottom, so I just had to keep my feet, get takedowns and points.”

Aloha’s Juan Lopez-Sandoval went after a “home run” move, knowing he couldn’t grind out six minutes with the battle-tested Nathan Burnett in the 160-pound match. In the first period, Lopez-Sandoval swung and missed and Burnett capitalized with a 1:01 pin.

“I couldn’t allow anything big to happen,” said Burnett. “Once I got on top of him, I knew I had it.”

As big as Morello, Crile and Burnett’s pins were score-wise, it was the efforts of 106-pound Daniel Linnell, 170-pound Logan Lachenmeier, and 185-pound Ellis Parr to not give up falls to their favored Warrior foes. Losing three points instead of six for three matches ended up being the difference between sharing the Metro crown with Westview and winning outright.

“We had a bunch of matches where guys could’ve said it was too hard, that they didn’t have enough energy left,” said Burnett. “But, they pushed through and won it and won the duals. Everyone was willing to work a little harder this year.”




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