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Mooseheart Wrestlers Fall in Princeton Sectional

Wrestling Sectionals 1

Mooseheart’s three sectional wrestling qualifiers entered Saturday’s action at the Princeton Class 1A Sectional knowing their postseason existence hung by a thread.


The Ramblers trio – Greg Hernandez (132 pounds), Jeff Leigh (145) and Howard Nealon (182) suffered opening round losses on Friday in the double-elimination competition. Qualification for the state meet, therefore, meant each had to win three rounds in consolation bracket to qualify for the third-place match.


Mooseheart’s wrestlers each fell far short of that goal, with each suffering a defeat in their opening Saturday matches.


“Like I say every year, when we get to this sectional, we’re wrestling against guys who’ve been wrestling since they were kids,” Mooseheart coach Mark Johnson said. “We are at a disadvantage when we come here. It’s always tough to come here, but it’s good experience for them.”


Of the sectional qualifiers, Leigh was the only to have four years of high school wrestling experience. He and Nealon are seniors while Hernandez is a junior.


“(Leigh) got a chance to come back to the sectionals for the second time while (Nealon and Hernandez) were here for the first time. Next year, we’ll hope to see (Hernandez) back here again.”


Hernandez wrestled North Boone’s Zach Weslund; Leigh competed against West Carroll’s Kaleb Hartman while Nealon wrestled Matthew Stevens from Oregon.


The pattern for each of Mooseheart’s matches was similar: the Ramblers’ wrestler fell behind, eventually was turned and then pinned.


“We rely on the basics that we learn,” Johnson said. “We add a little strength here and there, and that leads them to have some success. But when you go against a guy who’s been doing that a while, that’s not always enough.”


Nealon was aggressive against Stevens early in his match, but the Oregon wrestler quickly rallied to gain the victory.


“When he did that, I said ‘I wish he had one more year,’” Johnson said. “He’s come a long way in the two years he’s been with us.”


Hernandez will be the focal point of the 2016-17 team as he tries to build on this year’s success.


“He’s going to have to take over the reins now,” Johnson said.

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