On paper, the Helias Crusader wrestling team capped Senior Night with a commanding win. On the mat, the matchup was close from start to finish.
The Crusaders benefited from forfeits in three open weight classes, but they also won a handful of close contests for a 45-9 dual win Tuesday against the Blair Oaks Falcons at Rackers Fieldhouse.
"We only lost one close match," Helias coach Bryant Gaines said.
That one match was at 152 pounds.
There was no score between Helias' Jackson Careaga and Blair Oaks' Ben Thomas through two periods, but Thomas recorded a 3-point nearfall with 1:24 left in the third period. Careaga answered with an escape, then a takedown with :25 left to force overtime tied at 3.
Neither scored during sudden victory, leading to a pair of 30-second tiebreakers. Careaga escaped with :05 left in the first tiebreaker, but Thomas answered quickly with a takedown with :01 remaining to take a 5-4 lead.
Neither wrestler scored in the second tiebreaker period, giving Thomas the 1-point victory.
"He's wrestled a state champ already this year, he's wrestled all the rated guys in Class 1," Blair Oaks coach Mike DeMilia said of Thomas. " That's going to prepare him for the state tournament, if somewhere he ends up in a double overtime."
"That 152-pound match was probably the best match of the night," Gaines said. "That was a battle."
But the Crusaders won the remaining close matches in the dual, getting wins from both seniors on their night.
Zack Carr, Helias' first senior to wrestle against Blair Oaks, held off Addison Canale for a 4-1 victory at 132 pounds.
"Zack didn't win by a lot, but he had control of his match," Gaines said.
Helias senior Nick Schnieders trailed 4-2 entering the third period against Kyler Griep, but Schnieders scored a reversal midway through the period and added a 3-point nearfall to rally for a 7-4 victory at 160.
"Nick's match was back and forth," Gaines said. "The middle weights were fun to watch."
The Crusaders added wins by decision from Zack Carr at 126, Nate Distler at 145 and Colden Imhoff at 182. Both Nikolai Careaga (170) and Noah Wieberg (195) picked up wins by pin.
Blair Oaks' other win came by pin from Levi Haney in 3:52 at 138.
"I'm a huge believer in wrestling competition that makes you better, win or lose," DeMilia said. "We lost some matches tonight that were tough, but we got better tonight, there's no doubt."
Blair Oaks started Tuesday's tri-dual with a 40-33 win against the Fatima Comets.
The match featured 10 wins by forfeit, six of which favored the Falcons. Blair Oaks won one of the three contested matchups, with Haney winning 9-1 at 138.
Clayton Haslag won by fall in 3:47 at 132 and Jason Woodruff had an 8-5 win at 170 for Fatima's victories.
"Our biggest goal tonight was to compete, and I think we did," DeMilia said. "We made some mistakes that certainly cost us a couple matches, but we wrestled hard."
Blair Oaks wrestles Saturday at the Warsaw Tournament.
Helias also defeated Fatima 51-21 to finish 2-0 in the tri-dual. Nikolai Careaga (170) and Evan Winder (120) both won by fall for the Crusaders and Gavin Adams (106) won a 2-0 decision.
Lucas Laux (113) picked up a 7-1 decision and Haslag (132) won by fall in 2:54.
Counting exhibitions, Gaines said the Crusaders lost just four matches total Tuesday.
Helias hosts Jefferson City next Wednesday.