“Sumo Night” of wrestling sees Falcons dominate York, West edge Franken

By Daulton Leonard
Student Writer

A boisterous Brubaker Auditorium crowd had the opportunity to witness two wrestling matches Thursday evening.

National #9 Messiah continued their winning ways in the evening’s primary event–while two Messiah student-athletes provided some extra entertainment in sumo wrestling style.

Messiah dominated their dual meet with nearby rivals York from start to finish, winning nine of the 10 bouts on their way to defeating the Spartans 36-6.

Pins decided the opening three matches of the bout, as Lucas Malmberg (125 lbs.) and Kaleb Loht (141 lbs.) secured six points apiece for Messiah (17-1), and Ryan Flynn (133 lbs.) did likewise for York (20-5).

From there, it was all Falcons the rest of the evening. Larry Cannon (157 lbs.), Derek Beitz (165 lbs.), and Ben Swarr (184 lbs.) all scored major decisions for Messiah in their individual bouts. Adam Peris (149 lbs.), Josh Thomson (174 lbs.), Kyle Koser (197 lbs.) and Jason Wright (285 lbs.) posted decision victories to complete the final team scoreline. Thomson’s match with York’s Tyler Rhoads was the night’s most thrilling encounter, as the Messiah junior picked up a 6-4 decision in sudden victory after picking up a takedown for two points.

The evening provided another “wrestling” match that was intense, competitive, and drew the attention of much of the crowd.

Messiah wrestling coach Bryan Brunk and Assistant Athletic Director Steve King spent the last two seasons planning a comical match for entertainment. It came in the form of a sumo wrestling match.

“Sumo wrestling is an ultimate classic. It is especially a great showing at an event like this,” said Steve King.

The result was senior men’s soccer goalkeeper Brandon West and senior men’s lacrosse attacker Will Franken suiting up in massive sumo costumes for a three-round dual.

“We love to have a great time,” said West of the decision to participate.

“We jumped at this opportunity to represent Messiah,” added Franken. Both competitors added that they “love Steve King,” who provided the on-mat commentary for the audience.

Franken and West traded the lead throughout their three two-minute rounds, earning single points for takedowns of the other–which often came by hurtling through the air at each other.

After a 7-7 draw, the match ended in overtime when West managed to spin Franken around, throwing him to the ground. The rounds of pushing, shoving, and running left both sumos looked exhausted, but a victorious West had enough energy left to belly flop onto Franken to celebrate his victory.

The event drew much laughter–and groans of pain–from the gathered audience, but provided much enjoyment.

“That’s what’s so great…with promos like this one you get students, but you also get student athletes,” said Ricardo Plummer, a 2014 Messiah graduate and current grad assistant for the wrestling team.

After a relatively enjoyable first round, “Sumo Night” may very well return to Messiah wrestling matches in years to come.

Messiah next wrestles at home on Feb. 17 against McDaniel in Brubaker Auditorium for Senior Night. The match will begin at 7 p.m.

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