While the Vernon Verona Sherrill wrestling team always possessed talent, the question of desire was still somewhat open prior to last Wednesday night's Tri-Valley League first-place showdown at Holland Patent.
Any of those questions were answered in an emphatic way, though, as the Red Devils used some unexpected pins from injured wrestlers to serve as the springboard for a 36-31 victory over the Golden Knights.
More than 200 fans looked on as VVS opened at 112 pounds in the best way possible, Dylan Kavanaugh pinning Israel Rivera in 52 seconds.
Two matches later, Joe Tiller, despite an injured knee, went out at 125 pounds and, down 2-0 going into the third period, rallied to pin Todd Stevens with three seconds left -- this after Stevens beat Tiller in the CNY Tournament four days earlier.
Dan Walts (130 pounds) pinned George VanDresar in 3:29, and David Rathbun (140 pounds) beat Dalton Devine 11-5. The teams continued to swap victories, Lane Frost (152 pounds) keeping the Red Devils in front as he pinned Tyler Mytych in 1:27.
Still, the issue was in doubt until the Mieczkowski brothers went to work. Going first, Alex Mieczkowski (171 pounds) beat Ryan Kessler 6-0, and Nick Mieczkowski (189 pounds) followed by clinching the match as he pinned Mike Kurdziolek in 1:20.
This gave the Red Devils a lot of momentum going into Saturday's Section III Dual Meet, held at Cicero-North Syracuse.
But as the draw went, VVS had to meet two-time defending champion Phoenix in the first round -- and the Red Devils were overwhelmed in a 63-8 defeat to the Firebirds.
Phoenix proved itself by winning each of the first 11 matches, eight of them by pins. VVS got shut out until Kavanaugh, at 125, beat Steve Denbleyker 7-3 in advance of Dan Walts closing things out with a 16-0 technical fall of Rowdy Prior.