Ohio Northern coach Ron Beaschler said Tuesday's match - and the difference between an outright Ohio Athletic Conference title and a three-way share - was simple.
"We knew it was gonna be a dogfight," Beaschler said of his team's match with Heidelberg at Seiberling Gymnasium. "We had to win the close matches. There were some weights where that we knew we couldn't give up big points, and we didn't do that."
But the Polar Bears didn't win enough of the close matches. After Calvert graduate and Ohio Northern reigning 174-pound national champion Kyle Kwiat scored an 18-0 technical fall over Heidelberg's Jeremy Stepp to cut HU's advantage to 15-8, two matches essentially decided the outcome.
In the first, Heidelberg 184-pounder Richard Dowdley made a late rally for a 7-6 win over Kyle Raber. Then, HU senior Andy Lovins - in his final match at Seiberling Gymnasium - won in double overtime over Michael Pawlitz in a 197-pound match, 7-6.
"We win those two, we win the dual," Beaschler said.
The two HU victories secured what became a 21-11 win over the Polar Bears, and gave HU a share of the OAC title for the first time since 2009-2010. HU shares the title with Mount Union and Ohio Northern, which suffered its first conference loss. Each team finished at 4-1.
The crowd was at its loudest when Dowdley gained control over Raber in the final half minute, which sent him on to the win.
"I'm fighting, I'm fighting; it just seemed like I couldn't get out," Dowdley said. "I was just like 'Hey, we need this match to win, so I dug deep, came out the back door, got the two. From there it seemed like he was broke."
Heidelberg coach Ned Shuck said the Dowdley match was key.
"He got caught in a bad situation where he gave up four or five points and had to work his way through it," Shuck said. "That last little bit there, he won the match on riding time, just getting a couple seconds over one minute. That just shows you how every second of a wrestling match is important."
Lovins knew all about that Tuesday night, winning his match on a tiebreaker after overtimes.
To go out with a piece of the OAC title was special for the senior.
"We knew that we had to win to get part of the OAC, so we put in a lot of time in individual practices," he said. "Working out the wrinkles and getting the small things corrected that needed to be done."
It was a good home finish for Lovins, who has plenty more in mind before his career wraps up. Lovins, OAC champion a year ago, said he has plenty to prove.
"I'm definitely looking at All-American this year," he said. "I fell short, I lost in the match to place at nationals last year; that was pretty frustrating, and caused me to work a lot harder on aspects I need to improve [on]."
Two other Heidelberg seniors went out with wins. Justin Wharton, a 165-pounder, defeated ONU's Tyler Gargano 14-8, while HU 149-pounder Andrew Johnson scored an 11-4 decision over Jonathan Hoopes.
Wharton, like many wrestlers Tuesday night, talked about what the title meant for his coach.
"It means a lot, especially for Coach Shuck," Wharton said. "I'm really proud of him, and it means a lot for me that he could come in his second year and capture a conference title."
"It's a great feeling," Johnson said. "We wish we were competing for the outright, but competing for the title alone in itself is an amazing feeling. We came in, my class (as freshmen), winning a tournament title, and leaving now with a share of the title for the dual season, that's a great accomplishment."
Heidelberg's other wins on the night came from Columbian graduate Delian Schneider, who beat Jerry Pasquale 10-5 at 125 pounds, from 141-pounder Chris Osborn, who knocked off Shaun Lee 11-4 and from Bellevue graduate Damon Cheek, who won his 157-pound match over Kyle Brezovec (6-2).
The highlight for ONU was Kwiat, who won his match over Stepp in dominating fashion. With his team down 15-3 at the time, Kwiat said he knew ONU needed a big win
"I knew that we needed some 'gravy points,' as Coach calls them," Kwiat said. "I knew I could do that, but I just went out there and wrestled my match, attacking, being aggressive."
ONU also got a 7-4 win by 133-pounder Jeremy Jones over Colin McDermitt, and got a victory in the heavyweight match when Cody Lovejoy topped Nino Majoy, 8-3.
But the big winners were Shuck and his team. Not that he wanted to celebrate too much.
"You've always got to look forward; you've always got to move forward," Shuck said. "If you're not, somebody else is catching up to you or making bigger gains on you, and we don't want that to happen. We're trying to close the gap on the top teams in the country right now, and that's not gonna happen by sitting around celebrating all night about having a share of the OAC title. We've got to move forward."