Back in 1984, Doug Hartman took over as head coach of the East Syracuse-Minoa wrestling team.
Nearly a quarter-century later, Hartman is retiring at season's end -- and the Spartans wanted to give him one more victory.
The chance came last Thursday night, against Cortland. A day after Hartman's 57th birthday, ESM needed every bit of its determination and heart, going to the wire before holding off the Purple Tigers 32-30.
They started the meet at 119 pounds, where Jeff Martino routed Clint Morse 14-4. Matt Letcher followed (125 pounds), and had little trouble beating Barry Kinney 12-4.
After Mike Dee was beaten at 130 pounds, Ben Hough (135 pounds) gave the Spartans a bigger margin, pinning Corby Reynolds at 3:39. Mick Letcher gave the Spartans six more points at 145 pounds, pinning Garret Wyatt in 1:55.
Now it was the Purple Tigers' turn to make a move. Three more wins put Cortland in front, 21-20, but ESM's best wrestlers staged a comeback.
Matt Cushing, at 189 pounds, needed just 1:10 to pin Cody Cute. Brett Adams (215 pounds) moved the Spartans to the brink of victory with a pin over Jon Wood at the end of the first period.
Ahead 32-21, all ESM had to do in the last two matches was avoid pins. But Matt Revette (103 pounds) got pinned by Garrett Morse, forcing Aaron Wilkinson, at 112 pounds, to stay on the mat with Michael Gates for six minutes.
Wilkinson found it difficult to dislodge Gates, but he never got close to danger, and by forcing Gates to win in a 2-0 decision, Cortland got just three points -- not the six it needed -- and Hartman had one more home win to savor.
Back on Tuesday night, ESM met Phoenix, their second meeting in four days. And just like their Jan. 27 clash at the Section III Dual Meet, the Firebirds came out on top, defeating the Spartans 37-25.