Liberty grapplers’ comeback comes up short in pin bid over Bellevue

January 18, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

Josh Muttart thrills with emotional pin in first match after injury

Heading into the final four matches of the Liberty High School wrestling team’s final home meet of the year Jan. 13, the scene was grim. Bellevue High School wrestlers had manhandled the Patriots most of the evening, dampening Liberty’s spirits.

But when Liberty junior Hamilton Noel took to the mat, it was as if the Patriots’ passion had been reignited. It was the beginning of a thrilling late-meet comeback, and although it was not enough to get the win, it made the 46-35 3A/2A KingCo Conference loss feel slightly less painful.

In the first round of the 152-pound weight class match between Noel and Bellevue’s Colin Small, Noel lifted Small from his feet, slamming him hard into the mat. Liberty fans cheered in excitement, and for two rounds, Noel dominated Small with brute force, winning 19-3 by technical fall.

Liberty senior Jay Chakravarty followed Noel in the 160-pound weight class match, facing off against Bellevue’s Sam Bassford. The match was a quick one, as Chakravarty was on his game, pinning Bassford in the first round.

Next came the 171-pound weight class match, and time for Liberty senior Josh Muttart’s first — and likely last — match of the season. Muttart tore his ACL playing soccer last spring, and doctors cleared him to begin playing sports again Jan. 1.

Although they told him wrestling was risky and could jeopardize this year’s soccer season, Muttart simply could not give up on wrestling.

“It’s been heartbreaking, but I told myself I need to wrestle at least once,” he said.

He took the mat with his knee braced and padded, facing off against Bellevue’s Jamey Mange. Muttart and Mange grappled in the first round, and Mange took a 2-0 lead. In the second round, Mange increased his lead to 7-0.

In the third round, Muttart came out with a burst of energy, keeping Mange on the mat and bringing the hollering fans to their feet. Muttart finally had Mange pinned, and in accordance with a deafening roar of excitement from the crowd, the referee slapped the mat to end the match.

After the victory, he was treated to embraces from several teammates.

“I started off slow, but this is what wrestling’s all about,” Muttart said after the match. “You can be the strongest guy in the world, but it doesn’t matter. If you have the biggest heart, you just can’t beat that. That’s what I was trying to do today.”

Muttart said he doesn’t plan to wrestle again this year, as not to re-injure his leg prior to the soccer season.

In the final match of the evening, Liberty junior Noel Brandon pinned Bellevue’s Kevin Rodgers in the first round to continue closing the gap, but the Patriots were still 11 points short.

“I was hoping that we could come back,” Chakravarty said. “If we would have had one or two matches go the other way.”

Liberty Manny Brown said momentum played a large role in meet, as most of the lightweight classes wrestled first, followed by the heavier classes, in which Liberty is more dominate.

“It’s kind of a rough way to end senior night,” he said.

Brown said he was proud of the seniors’ drive throughout their high school careers.

“They’ve worked hard going to clubs and camps to help make Liberty what we are today.”

Although the Patriots’ home matches are now complete, the team has several road meets before the KingCo qualifying meet Jan. 29. Next, they face off against Mount Si High School on the road Jan. 20.

Two Patriots take titles

Noel and Jay Chakravarty each won their divisions Jan. 15 at the annual Jack Reynolds Invitational Tournament at Mercer Island.

Noel won the 152-pound match by defeating Joseph Coronell, of Federal Way, 6-4. En route to the title round, Noel pinned Joshua Crebbin, of Oak Harbor, and defeated Anthony Allred, of Yelm, 13-5.

Chakravarty won the 160-pound class with a 2-1 victory against Joey Caron, of Eastmont. Prior to the title match, Chakravarty pinned Jacob Crawford, of Yelm, and defeated Steven Souza, of Oak Harbor, 9-1.

Liberty wrestler Jake Tierney tied for fifth in the 171-pound class.

Tim Pfarr: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcas@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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