In recent years, the Chittenango wrestling team could not even dream of keeping pace with an opponent like Mexico, given the overall strength of the Tigers' program.
All of that changed, though, on Wednesday night, when the Bears took Mexico right down to the last match of the night before settling for a 36-28 defeat.
Chittenango was fresh off winning its own dual meet on Dec. 6 with a quintet of one-sided contests. It had beaten New Hartford 61-3, Whitney Point 48-9, Homer 48-21, Onondaga 60-6 and Marcellus 51-18, so it was ready for Mexico.
Each side started with six points -- Josh Wright getting a forfeit at 215 pounds, the Bears forfeiting at 103 pounds to Shane Morrison.
Then Chittenango moved out in front, with Gunnar Brooks (112 pounds) fighting his way to a 7-4 victory over C.J. Loomis and Cole Farsaci, at 119 pounds, dominating Kyle Sikes in a 19-4 verdict.
Wes Blanding kept his team in front at 130 pounds, pinning Matt Jay in just 1:18, but Mexico answered by winning the next four matches through a decision and three pins, taking a 33-20 lead.
Needing any kind of win to stay alive, the Bears got it when Jacob Jayson (160 pounds) rolled past Andrew Scholes 11-1 and Ryan Scheido, at 171 pounds, dominated Kyle Toney in an 11-0 shutout to make it 33-28.
Now, in the 189-pound finale, Kyle Schiedo had to get a pin or technical fall against Troy Benjamin, but didn't quite pull it off as Benjamin won a 9-4 decision.
Chittenango takes on Corcoran/Fowler this Wednesday, then will go to Whitesboro on Friday and Saturday for the Tri-Valley Tournament.