RICHLAND – Kingsway wrestling coach Mike Barikian isn’t one to think heavily about regular season wins. Now in his second year with the Dragons, Barikian, a standout in high school when he wrestled at Sterling, has a very specific agenda.
“I’ve said this a couple of times and some people may laugh at me but I view regular season duals and tournaments like practice,” Barikian said. “Right now, we have a couple of kids working back from injury who need dual meets to work on their technique and stamina. We have even more kids who need constant work and the intensity of dual meets to prepare for the next few weeks.
“I don’t worry about wins unless there is a trophy at the end. That’s when it gets important and all that starts in February.”
After a week in which the weather caused the cancellation of matches, for the Dragons it was a showdown with Camden Catholic, Barikian went looking for an extra meet and after securing a match against St. Augustine for Wednesday night, picked up a nice team win 36-34 over the Hermits.
Kingsway, ranked No.8 in the SJSD Top 10, took seven bouts including pins by Ryan Crane (160), Sean Horner (285), McKenzie Bell (113) and Quinn Kinner (145) to hold off the third ranked Hermits.
“I tell the kids all the time you have to step up to the challenges,” said St. Augustine head coach Bill Ward, whose team beat Atlantic City early in the evening. “This was a challenge. Everything wasn’t in our favor. You know what, life isn’t always in your favor a lot of the time so this is a learning lesson. Kingsway outwrestled us and they wanted it more tonight.
“He approached us Sunday afternoon. Of course, I’m not one to back down from challenges. We’re willing to wrestle anybody anytime.”
“I give him a lot of credit,” Barikian said. "I called him and he said yes. He told me at that time it may not be a good matchup for them, but that’s a program you have to respect because they hide from no one.”
For Kingsway (5-3), a quick start was imperative and Ryan Clark’s pin at 160 pounds to start the night was exactly what the Dragons needed.
“I thought we’d get the win but I wasn’t sure about bonus points,” Barikian said.
“This wasn’t tough to get ready for,” said Crane, who got the pin in 1:30. “I was already at weight and I bumped up for tonight.
“I was feeling pretty good and got a nice pin. It definitely hyped us up a bit.”
The match remained tight until McKenize Bell started a three bout run for the Dragons who picked up 15-of-18 possible points to build a 30-19 lead.
“I was thinking about getting a pin but I knew I had to get work in as well,” said Bell, who took several chances including what appeared to be a risky guillotine that ended up securing his pin. “I was just waiting for that opening.”
“Anyone else I would have been concerned, but that’s (Bell’s) style,” Barikian said. “He’s a creative wrestler and he takes chances. Honestly when I saw him going for it I never doubted him."
Bell’s pin at 113 was followed by a huge decision for Chaney Kinner at 120 and then an awkward forfeit by St. Augustine when Steven Schwab ran out for the 126 bout. Schwab weighed in at 132 and was lost for the night, but the Hermits did get 9-of-12 points headed into the 145-pound match.
“That was my fault,” Ward said. “(Schwab) was never going at (126). We told the kids but we have to be on top of that.”
For Ward, that's a lesson he can take forward for his program which, for Barikian, was all the Dragons were looking for on Wednesday night anyway.
160-Ryan Crane, K, pin Nick Marshall, 1:30; 170-Colin Wexler, K, decision Anthony Bevilaqua, 11-6; 182-Joe Colon, SA, major decision Kevin Pandorf, 13-5; 195-Mike Mista, SA, pin Alieis Almanzar, 0:49; 220-Sean Lenzsch, SA, pin Jatlen Sjanklin, 2:38; 285-Sean Horner, K, pin Matt Compton, 1:15; 106-Ryan Defoney, SA, decision Anthony Rosano, 4-0; 113-McKenzie Bell, K, pin Gianni Danze, 1:49; 120-Chaney Kinner, K, decision Dan Martini, 5-2; 126-Finnegan McFadden, K, won by forfeit; 132-George Coleman, SA, decision Jake Gentile, 7-2; 138-Connor Kraus. SA, decision John Sambogna, 0:21; 145-Quinn Kinner, K, pin , Brett Bodnar, 0:21; 152-Sal Manera, SA, won by forfeit.