There was no way that Andrew Vercelli was going to let a hairline fracture in his foot prevent him from wrestling in Thursday’s District 3A-8 dual tournament.
A fourth consecutive berth in the Class 3A state dual tournament was on the line for Plainview, after all.
Vercelli made it clear to Plainview coach Rocky Atencio on Wednesday afternoon that he was going to compete despite the pain.
“He came in the (practice) room and asked me if I was good enough to wrestle,” Vercelli said. “I said, ‘coach, I’ll wrestle any day of the week.’”
Thanks to Vercelli’s mental toughness, Plainview rode the momentum of his 8-3 decision of Sulphur’s Josh Watterson in the 138-pound bout to a 49-27 dual victory inside Plainview Activity Center — punching the Indians’ ticket into the state tournament.
“I think it’s unbelievable that I won, honestly,” Vercelli said. “I fought my heart out. I thought me winning sparked the team to go and go just continue the momentum throughout the rest of the contest.”
Vercelli’s win didn’t come without some tense moments.
Watterson scored a single-leg takedown in the first period for a 2-0 lead.
Atencio raised two fingers in the air just before the buzzer sounded as he thought Vercelli earned a takedown, but the referee said he didn’t have control.
The non-call didn’t faze him.
Vercelli rode a four-point move (two-point takedown and two-point near-fall) in the second period to take control of the match.
“I just had my heart in it,” Vercelli said. “If he gets two, I’ll get another two. I’m just going to ride it out and see where it goes.”
Atencio says Vercelli’s victory changed the momentum “a lot.”
That action played right into the hands of Plainview’s middle weights.
Plainview was relentless in racking up the bonus points.
Trevor Bass earned six more team points for Plainview with his victory by forfeit as Sulphur was open at 145 pounds. Ty Lucas (152 pounds), Garrett Willis (160), Eli Paul (170) and Bodie Davis (182) followed with pins.
Davis’ fall put the Indians ahead 39-12 with five matches remaining.
The clincher for Plainview was Conner O’Neal’s victory by forfeit as Sulphur was open at 220.
This scoring flurry came after pins by Sulphur’s John Konner Lunsford at 126 and Ethan Massey at 132 put the Bulldogs in front 12-6 three bouts into the dual.
“From 152 to 195, we’re really though, and 145 and 220, we’re getting better,” Atencio said. “I was proud of all of them. Zane Miller wrestling Dan Baker to a 5-1 match, that takes a lot of character, a lot of heart.”
Vercelli proved to be a momentum starter in Plainview’s 51-24 win over Madill earlier in the afternoon.
The Wildcats had taken a 12-8 lead after Dylan McCullough needed just 53 seconds to work a pin in the 132-pound bout.
Vercelli stepped up with a dominant 8-0 major decision in the next match, tying the score at 12-all.
Bass followed with a 7-3 decision in the 145-pound match to untie the score.
Sulphur defeated Madill 45-30 to commence the tournament.
The Wildcats appeared to be in control with a 27-12 lead. But, Luke Perry’s 7-1 decision at 152 pounds ignited the comeback.
Nick Knighten’s first-period pin at 195 put the Bulldogs ahead 33-30 — a lead they never relinquished.
Plainview heads to the state tournament looking to take the final step after it finished as the state runner-up in each of the last two years.
Having Paul and Willis back in its lineup this week after Paul was sidelined because of mono and Willis to a lower-body injury will surely help the Indians’ cause.
The dual state tournament will be held Feb. 10-11 at Firelake Arena in Shawnee.
“We’ve got some young guys that have really learned a lot and put in a lot of work,” Paul said. “We’re going into dual state with a lot of confidence, and I wouldn’t be surprised to go home with a gold trophy.”
Plainview 49, Sulphur 27
120 pounds. Jaxson Roney, Plainview, pin; 126. Konner Lunsford, Sulphur, pin; 132. Ethan Massey, Sulphur, pin; 138. Andrew Vercelli, Plainview, 8-3 decision; 145. Trevor Bass, Plainview, forfeit (Sulphur open); 152. Ty Lucas, Plainview, pin; 160. Garrett Willis, Plainview, pin; 170. Eli Paul, Plainview, pin; 182. Bodie Davis, Plainview, pin; 195. Dan Baker, Sulphur, 5-1 decision; 220. Conner O’Neal, Plainview, forfeit (Sulphur open); 285. Korby Garcia, Sulphur, pin; 106. Caleb Pierce, Sulphur (Plainview open); 113. Nick Vercelli, Plainview, 14-3 major decision.
Plainview 51, Madill 24
113. Nick Vercelli, Plainview, 10-3 decision; 120. Jaxson Roney, Plainview 18-2 technical fall; 126. Will Shelby, Madill, pin; 132. Dylan McCullough, Madill, pin; 138. Andrew Vercelli, Plainview, 8-0 major decision; 145. Trevor Bass, Plainview, 7-3 decision; 152. Ty Lucas, Plainview, pin; 160. Garrett Willis, Plainview, forfeit (Madill open); 170. Eli Paul, Plainview; 182. Bodie Davis, Plainview, pin; 195. Zane Miller, Plainview, forfeit (Madill open); 220. Zane Crisp, Madill, pin; 285. Taylor Johnson, Plainview, pin; 106. Isaac Eades, Madill, forfeit (Plainview open)
Sulphur 45, Madill 30
106. Isaac Eades, Madill, 18-3 technical fall; 113. Damian Ramirez, Madill, pin; 120. John Miller, Sulphur, pin; 126. Will Shelby, Madill, pin; 132. Ethan Massey, Sulphur, pin; 138. John Venable, Madill, 15-2 major decision; 145. double forfeit; 152. Luke Perry, Sulphur, 7-1 decision; 160. Nash Moore, Sulphur, forfeit (Madill open); 170. Christian Moreno, Madill, 5-1 decision; 182. Trey Kiser, Sulphur, pin; 195. Nick Knighten, Sulphur, pin; 220. Dan Baker, Sulphur, pin; 285. Korby Garcia, Sulphur, pin.