Posted Online: Jan. 08, 2013, 10:54 pm

Letney's pin in finale against Leafs caps PV rally in interstate duel of state mat powers

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By Terry Duckett,

GENESEO -- It was an interstate clash of area wrestling titans here Tuesday night, and it lived up to its billing.

The Geneseo Maple Leafs put their No. 9 Class 2A ranking in Illinois up against the Pleasant Valley Spartans and their No. 10 Iowa Class 3A state rating in the second match of Tuesday's triangular meet at J.D. Darnall Gymnasium.

Down midway by 21 points, Pleasant Valley hit the core of its lineup and it showed. The Spartans won six of the final seven bouts, with junior 170-pounder Brady Letney handing his Geneseo counterpart Brandon Mizlo his first loss of the season to cap PV's 31-29 victory.

Needing a technical fall or pin to give the Spartans (17-8) the win, Letney caught Mizlo on his back in the final minute of the third period. Mizlo put up a game struggle but was counted out with six seconds left on the clock, ending the Maple Leafs' 19-dual winning streak and spoiling Senior Night for the Leafs' 10 senior wrestlers.

"My first goal was to get the win, obviously,'' said Letney. "Later in the match, I realized I needed to get bonus points for us to win. I did my favorite move and stuck him with it. We knew Geneseo was good, that there would be some close matches. We lost a few, but then we were fortunate to win a few.

"From 120 pounds up is definitely the heart of our lineup, and getting the bonus points is what did it for us.''

Those bonus points came during the Spartans' closing run, courtesy of pins by Letney and Travis Willers (132), Christian Foote's technical fall at 126 pounds and major decisions by Grant Rosenboom (160) and Joe Picchiotti (195).

"He got an arm caught in too deep. That happens,'' Geneseo coach Jon Murray said of Mizlo's decisive setback. "He could've won the match -- should've won the match -- but instead he got pinned. That's a nine-point swing right there.''

Murray saw plenty of positives even in defeat as Geneseo now aims at clinching the Northern Illinois Big 12 West crown Thursday at Ottawa before hosting their own invitational -- which also includes PV -- this weekend.

"We won a couple of close matches, and there were some other positives,'' he said. "We've got to have a positive frame of mind, and be ready for Thursday.''

Opening at 182 pounds, Maple Leaf senior Mitch Miller instantly got the Geneseo crowd revved up, rallying from a 3-2 deficit early in the third period to force overtime against PV's Seth Skahill, then held on through a pair of scoreless OT sessions before escaping early in the third overtime and fending off Skahill for a 4-3 victory.

Following Picchiotti's major, the Leafs' Cameron Panicucci gutted out a 4-2 win at 220 pounds, then 285-pounder Nick Verbeck endured two scoreless periods with his PV counterpart Landon Carney, getting a takedown with 45 seconds left in regulation for a 2-1 decision. Pins by Tumbo Tumbarello (106) and Jon Warner (113), plus Hunter Grau's major decision at 120 pounds, gave the Maple Leafs a 25-4 lead halfway through the match.

After their loss, the Maple Leafs did bounce back to earn their 20th win in 22 dual meets, rolling past United Township 64-11. Grau, Cropp, Miller, Panicucci and Verbeck each had two wins on the night for the hosts.

"You should always try to get better,'' said Murray. "If you're not trying, you should be done with the sport.''

In the evening's opener, the Spartans took advantage of United Township giving up forfeits at five weight classes, weathering a rally by the Panthers in the lighter weights to earn a 52-16 victory. After PV took the first five bouts to go up 22-0, UT began its comeback bid at 106 pounds when Marques Harrison put Destin Babcock down for the 3-count at the 1:13 mark.

Jeronnie Steward then scored a 14-4 major decision over Cameron Booth at 113, and Panther 120-pounder DeMerrio Teague bested Scott Kraft 6-2 to close the gap to 22-13 before PV took five of the last six bouts. Harrison, Steward and 152-pounder Tanner Schuldt all won twice for the Panthers.