The Bishop Carroll vs. Kapaun rivalry goes back decades and it only seems fitting that their first meeting this wrestling season came down to the final match.
The battle of the 285 pounders ended with Carroll upsetting the number three ranked 5A team in the state, according to the KWCA, 33-29.
As rivalries go, both teams are extremely familiar with each other.
“We prepared all week, we knew what they were going to do,” Bishop Carroll wrestler Nick Nolting said. “We set up situations in practice; we know we could go against them in the real match. And watching film and staying calm. Staying calm is a big thing.”
The 106 pound match up ended quickly with Andrew Egan pinning Luke Linnebur in the first 22 seconds of the first round. And just like that the Crusaders were cruising, up 6-0 early on.
But this wouldn’t be a blow out, Mark Stovall, head coach of Bishop Carroll, wouldn’t let the Golden Eagles relent.
“We’re young,” Stovall said. “They’re a team full of seniors, like 12 seniors or something crazy. I just told our guys to weather the storm, there’s going to be some bumps in the road, don’t get too emotional. Just keep working.”
And work they did, as the teams went back and forth with the lead.
Victories by Connor Murphy in the 113-pound match and Konnor Dugan in the 120’s would bring Carroll right into the lead at 9-6.
Dugan won by disqualification after Parker Howell, the number one wrestler in 5A 120 pounders, slammed Dugan down, trying to gain position. Dugan came up injured and Howell was disqualified.
Those six points, lost to disqualification, would come back to haunt Kapaun.
Sam Roy’s decision victory in the 126-pound division extended the Golden Eagles’ lead to six points at 12-6, but Kapaun was poised for a rally.
Kapaun scored 11 unanswered points on two major decisions and a decision victory, in the 132, 138 and 145 pound weight classes, to take the lead at 17-12.
But Carroll wouldn’t be silenced for long as junior Joel Sponsel and senior Luke Sponsel strung together back-to-back pins, in the 152 and 160 pound weight classes, for the Eagles, a 12-point swing.
And just like that Carroll found themselves back on top 24-17.
At 170 pounds Nick Nece grinded out a monster 3-1 decision for the Crusaders and Carroll had their lead cut to just four points, 24-20.
A pin by Kapaun’s Tom Hand swung the lead back in favor of the Crusaders, 26-24.
But as the pendulum of momentum swung, it came back to favor Carroll, who had Tommy Marquez earn a 12-5 decision to bring the dual within one point of separation at 27-26, with Carroll holding the lead.
Zach Jenkins, of Carroll, kept his team in the dual with a tough loss to Kapaun senior Sam LaFluer. LaFluer, the number four 5A 220 pounder in the state, barely edged Jenkins in a 9-8 decision.
Kapaun now led 29-27.
Just before the final match, in a strategic decision, Stovall moved Nick Nolting up in weight, a move that would pay off immediately.
Nolte could barely contain himself heading into the final match.
“I was trying to stay calm, didn’t want to get too excited and do something dumb,” Nolting said. “Do what I do and wrestle.”
Nolting dove in and pinned his opponent just 31 seconds into the match. The pin represented victory for the Golden Eagles.