HERSHEY: It’s difficult competing in a live match against an opponent you work out with in the wrestling room.
Susquehanna Twp.’s Edmond Ruth and Susquenita’s Dalton Group found that out in the premier finals bout in Saturday’s District 3 Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center.
Ruth knew Group and vice versa. There were no surprises, but it didn’t take away from an entertaining bout — the best of the Class 3A and Class 2 session — that saw Ruth come out with a 7-2 decision that was closer than the score.
“Before going into that match, I was nervous,” said Ruth, who is ranked No. 1 in the state at 170, according to PA Power Wrestling. “It gets nerve-racking, because you know what he is going to do, and he knows what you are going to do.
“At this point, it’s a relief [getting the win] because you know you have the upper hand on him. But then, that means all he is focused on is getting better.”
If this match was any indication, there will be another scrap between these two standouts and friends in the near future.
The score says a lopsided five-point win, but those in attendance will say otherwise. This was a one move match that came down to a 50-50 no call and Ruth haymaker that turned into another victory.
It was knotted at 2 in the third period, thanks to a first-period takedown by Ruth and two Group escapes. With a minute left, Group locked in a loose standing Merkle, and Ruth had both hands down at one point.
Ruth popped up a couple of times, and no points were awarded, much to the dismay of the Blackhawk faithful in the stands.
“In the third period, seeing the score and how it was still tied, I knew what I had to do next,” Ruth said. “It was hold him down and get near-fall points or let him up and go for another takedown.
“After wrestling, we got in a close situation where, to be honest, he could have taken me down and got two. But, the ref didn’t see it … luckily for me.”
Said Group, “I think there are lot of people who thought I had the two. Even his coach came over after the match and said that was two. But hey, stuff happens. You can’t blame the refs, and [you] got to think, ‘what else could I have done.’”
Ruth transitioned into a double underhook and put Group on his back for the final 35 seconds for a five-point move and the match.
But Group, ranked third in the state, wasn’t disappointed with the setback. He showed he can stay with the champ, and both wrestlers know they have a good chance at seeing each other in next week’s regional event at Wilson High School.
“Problem was, I kept trying to get that two, and I put myself in a bad position,” Group said. “That’s when he got those double unders.
“I’m not upset. I know there is next week, and if there’s not next week, there is the week after. The only one that matters is the one at states.”
Said Ruth with a chuckle, “It sucks knowing you have to face him again and again. It’s a lot on your body, but it just means I have to improve, do some new things, and tweak my technique.”