Someone was going to end up disappointed.
Mead and Mt. Spokane both entered the final meet of the Greater Spokane League wrestling season undefeated and only one could take home the trophy.
Cameron Crawford earned a decisive win at 160 pounds to put the Panthers up 32-20 and visiting Mead beat Mt. Spokane 32-29 in front of a packed gymnasium to finish the season undefeated and league champion on Thursday.
“(The finish) was interesting,” Mead coach Phil McLean said. “We had some kids battle and not give up pins when they were a little outmatched. They were pretty gritty.
“Kind of felt like we limped to the finish line, but we did what we had to do early on. Got the right matchups and pulled through them.”
“Early on, we had nothing go our way,” Mt. Spokane coach Travis Hughes said. “We had (Jarret Sharp) get hurt in the middle of his match at 113. He might not have gotten pinned instead, in that match. That was where we lost it.”
Crawford won a 15-5 decision over the Wildcats’ Max Walker to put Mead up 32-20 with two matches left. All the Panthers had to do was avoid a pair of falls to take the crown.
Crawford’s brother Jason forced overtime before suffering a loss to Grayson Bowles, but he avoided a fall which would have given Mt. Spokane new life.
“I wish (Jason Crawford) went after it a little more,” McLean said. “He knew if he didn’t get pinned we’d win. He’s been wrestling really well, but that was a tough match.”
Mead (9-0) built a 22-10 lead on the backs of sophomores Ben Voighlaender (pin, 195), Trace Franks (pin, 285) and Chase Randall (pin, 113) and junior Chase Tebbetts, who ran up a commanding 17-3 win over Riley Buth at 120 – but couldn’t find the right combination for a pin.
“We started off some guys were a little rattled by the noise,” Hughes said. “We settled down later, but it was too late. We’ve got a good team, though.”
Mt. Spokane (8-1) had a shot to gain some momentum in the 126 match. Casey Howerton had Justin Mason on his back midway through the third period, but the referee stopped the action with an out-of-bounds call, when clearly both wrestlers were within the circle.
“The referee thought he saw them out of bounds,” Hughes said. “And he was wrong, of course.”
Mason picked up a reversal on the restart and took the match 5-3 to put Mead up 25-10.
In a match that close between two undefeated teams, was an errant call the difference?
“Who knows?” McLean asked. “(Mason) didn’t get turned before (the stoppage). But that definitely stopped momentum when (Howerton) had a pinning combination on. But Mason battled back really well and pulled through.
“That was one of the toss-up matches. There were several of them but that was one of them.”
Mt. Spokane picked up wins by Ky Haney at 132 over Yunadi Bogatyrev – who has knocked off No. 1 Terrell Sanders of University twice this season – and Jake Howerton at 145 to trim the deficit to 25-20.
But Mead’s Devante Goodman took a 7-3 decision over Zack Clark at 152 before Cameron Crawford gave the Panthers the distance they needed.
“It was really fun. A great atmosphere,” McLean said. “I think (the fans) got entertained.
“I want to fix a few of the last matches. But it was fun. It was a great season and Mt. Spokane is really tough. If we did that several times, it would come out different every time. It was good for us to get out of here with a win.”