Wake Forest wrestling coach Ed Mutio knew the key to his team getting a road win over Millbrook would be all about the matchups.
The Cougars had to take advantage of the Wildcats wherever they could throughout the lineup, picking spots where they felt they had an edge. In the end, Mutio got some unexpected points in some unexpected places as Wake Forest got a 54-24 conference win over Millbrook on the mat Wednesday night.
Missing some key guys because of injuries, Mutio had three jayvee wrestlers step up in their place, making a huge difference for the Cougars.
“We just had to come in here strong, wrestling through every position and try to capitalize when we could,” Mutio said. “That was the main focus.”
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One of the younger guys to wrestle up was Michael Pappaconstantinou in the 106-pound weight class. Pappaconstantinou got a pin over Ward Carroll midway through the match. That, Mutio said, was the turning point for his club.
“It was a big push,” Mutio said. “It kind of set the tone for the rest of the weight classes, really. We knew we were going to be soft at 120 and 126 … 132 was a toss up. I was just pleased with the outcome.”
Another pleasant surprise for Mutio was Jordan McDonald at 160 pounds, who defeated Millbrook’s Derrick Dreier, 15-11, in the second match of the night. McDonald, who normally wrestles at 170, went down a class and trailed Dreier in points early in the match.
“I think wrestling up helped being prepared for wrestling that match,” Mutio said. “That made him stronger because he really fought off of his back.”
Wake Forest not only got wins, but the Cougars had a lot of pins. In the opening match, Trevor Baldwin pinned Chris Engel in the 152-pound class. The Wildcats got things going winning consecutive matches when Matt Engel pinned Julian Prosser and Matt Flores made quick work of Isaiah Troublefield, pinning him in 42 seconds.
But the Cougars turned the tide, getting wins in the 220 (Joshua Cathcart), 285 (Sam Deluke), 106 (Pappaconstantinou) and 113 (Tim Mallo). Millbrook got an impressive win from freshman Isaiah Willett, who dominated his match with Stewart Walter.
“Big things to come from him,” Millbrook coach Scott Saby said about Willett. “He’s a good talent. Good wrestler, tough kid.”
It was Willett who may have unintentionally lit a fire under the Cougars. After his win over Walter, Willett had a point deducted for taunting towards the Wake Forest bench.
“Yeah, that fired us up,” Mulio said.
It definitely showed on the mat, as the Cougars closed out the Wildcats with back-to-back pins from Cameron Lindsey taking out Jarred Prather and Nicholas Mutio defeating Jacob Sy.