PORT BYRON — With a few of their regulars injured, Port Byron made it work.
The Panthers won three of the seven matches but earned points through forfeits, as the Port Byron wrestling team topped rival Cato-Meridian 42-34 in Port Byron Tuesday.
"We've got a young team, and I've got three kids out of the lineup so that makes it harder," Panthers coach Tom Green said. "We have to strategize a little more. Their kids were ready to wrestle and they have some pretty good guys. I had a couple kids come through, like my 99 pounder."
Cato-Meridian's Chad Thompson opened the meet with a pin in 1:01 in the first match at 145 pounds. It started a night of three pins for the Blue Devils.
"We got off to a good start with Chad Thompson at 145," Blue Devils coach Dan Butler said. "It's his first year ... he wrestled as a pee wee ... but he went out there and did some things I told him to do and overwhelmed the guy."
Dan Lathrop (170) and Ethan Scanlon (182) also recorded pins, while Hunter White (132) earned a 16-7 decision.
Port Byron's 99 pounder Henry Smith took down and wrapped up his opponent in just 21 seconds, while Aaron Clark (285) and Gabe Newton (126) each pinned their opponents late in the first period.
Green was impressed by Smith — a seventh grader in his seventh varsity match.
"He's young and he doesn't give up," Green said. "He works hard and that's the best part about him. There's only an upside if he keeps working hard."
Port Byron's Tyler Parker (160), Mackenzie McDowell (113), Jack Smith (120) and Johnathan Everhart (138) each accepted forfeits, along with Ethan Saumier (195) and Joshua Hulsizer (220) from Cato-Meridian.
For Butler, he and his team knows that with such small participation numbers a win on the scoreboard going to be rare and the focus is more on individual progress.
"I talk to these guys about it and they understand that, and unless the other team has as many forfeits we won't have a chance (to win)," Butler said. "They understand that. I want them to focus on their own individual improvements each time they go out there."
With six upperclassmen and the rest of his team being freshmen or younger, Green is hopeful for the future of Port Byron wrestling.
"We have a lot of young kids in the modified and pee wees coming up," Green said.
Port Byron will compete in the Phoenix Round Robin tournament on Saturday, while Cato-Meridian has a break before the Kenneth Haines Memorial Tournament at SUNY Oswego on Dec. 28.