ANDERSON — "Elwood is back" was uttered by many on Saturday afternoon, and not just the Panther faithful.
“Absolutely (Elwood is back), and I am proud of them,” Pendleton Heights coach Dave Cloud said.” (It is because of Elwood’s coach) Fred Short. He started from nothing, he has worked so hard and went through the struggles.”
The high praise came after Elwood dethroned Cloud’s two-time defending county champion Arabians 259-250.5.
It was clear from the onset that a close battle was brewing as Pendleton held a slim three-point advantage, 224-221, heading into the final round matches to determine first thru sixth places.
“It came down to just exactly what I (said) at intermission,” Short said. “Head-to-head and third place points.”
It was like he had the ability to see into the future. Each team had 14 wrestlers with final round matches; five of the matches pitted the two against each other. Perhaps the biggest was the final time they met, the 220-pound third-place match.
“All the old-time coaches taught me when I was young that it is nice to win the titles, but these third place matches a lot of times determine the tournaments,” Cloud said. “Worry about your team more than yourself— Elwood kids did a great job at that today and that is why they won.”
With Cloud in one corner and Short in the other and both barking orders toward their wrestler — nearly every set of eyes were fix on mat 1 as Elwood’s Ethan Morris and Pendleton’s Ryan Haynes locked horns for two scoreless periods. Then 11 seconds into the third, Morris got Haynes on his back with both shoulders on the mat for the pin and the deciding victory for Elwood.
“It was a dog fight,” Morris said. “I have been giving up so much weight and he felt a lot stronger than me. I think I wore him down a lot.”