The following is from the Alma College athletics web site commemorating the first home match in 27 years at Alma.
The Alma College Wrestling team began a new era on Wednesday evening when they hosted Trine University in front of almost 500 people at Art Smith Arena. The team hosted their first home match in 27 years when Trine University came to town to compete in a dual event. Even though the Scots came out on the wrong end of a 23-19 final decision, it was a night that will be remembered for a long time.
“It was a very special evening and I was overwhelmed by the support we received in our first match,” said Alma Head Coach Todd Hibbs. “The community, parents, students and alumni were outstanding and it was actually quite emotional for me Our team is very grateful to the reaction we received this evening.”
Alma College brought wrestling back for the 2011-12 after a 27-year hiatus. The college has a wrestling legacy, with varsity teams competing through 1984. The 1980-81, 1981-82 and 1982-83 wrestling teams won consecutive league titles and are members of the Alma College Athletics Hall of Fame.
In the very first bout of the evening, Alma’s Fr. Collin Lesko (Tecumseh, Mich./Tecumseh) defeated Brandon Preston, 11-1, at 125 pounds. After two forfeits at 133 and 141, Alma led 16-0 heading into the 149-pound bout between Alma Fr. John Julian, Jr. (Howell, Mich./Hartland) and Forrest Romer. Julian wrestled well and had opportunities, but eventually fell 8-7 in a compelling match-up that would ultimately play into the final result.
The next match featured the Scots’ So. Matt Tuttle (Reading, Mich./Reading) against the #1 ranked 157-pound wrestler in the country, Elias Larson. Tuttle fought hard and was competitive but dropped a 11-3 decision.
After Trine won a couple more matches to take the lead, an exciting bout took place between Alma Sr. Conrad Bovee (Ithaca, Mich./Ithaca) and Max Begovich at 197 pounds. Bovee came out on top by a margin of 4-1, cuttting the Scots’ deficit to one.
The dual match ultimately came down to the heavyweights in the last bout of the evening. With Alma trailing 20-19 heading into the final, Alma Fr. Brock Neeson (Grand Rapids, Mich./Kenowa Hills) took on Trine’s Willie Henson. A close match throughout, Henson gained an advantage in the second period and Neeson could not close the gap, losing 5-1 and giving the Thunder the 23-19 final margin of victory.
“We showed a little bit of our youth tonight by not being able to close out an opponent when we have that opportunity,” said Hibbs. “We also had a pin against us that hurt, but for it to come down to the heavyweights in our first match at home is pretty exciting.”
Despite the final outcome on the scoreboard, it was a very special evening at Art Smith Arena. After 27 years away, wrestling is back and that is very exciting for the Alma College athletic family.
The Scots will next compete on Saturday at Tiffin University (Ohio) beginning at 1:00 p.m.