A large crowd was on hand to witness the start of the high school wrestling season when the Foran High Lions took on the Jonathan Law Lawmen in the Edna Fraser Gymnasium on Dec. 18.

Foran High posted a 46-24 victory that had both coaches pleased....to a point.

“We wrestled well for our first match,” said Foran High’s Dave Esposito. “Law is always a strong, well-coached team. That (the 195-pound class) was right where we wanted to start and that got us going.”

The Lions won the first seven bouts, two via forfeit, to take a 34-0 lead.

“Our 132-pounder Sean Berg wrestled the best I’ve seen him in a year against a real solid kid (Jubilee Witte), who was sixth in Ms,” Law coach Matt Schoonmaker said.

“And I was impressed by our heavyweight (Ireoluwa Opayemi), he gave a great effort.

“They were more experienced and it showed. Timmy (Rebentisch) is a good wrestler with 100 matches or so as a senior, and their guy, Ryan Luth, is a freshman, but I bet he has 200 matches under his belt (from outside tournaments).

“That was a good job by them. We have to wrestle better in spots.”

Foran’s 195-pounder Nick McQuade pinned Justin Cortes in 1:02 before the Lions’ Zach Cardellichio was awarded a forfeit win at 220 pounds.

Law’s Opayemi met Patrick Grinder in the heavyweight bout, which featured plenty of drama before Grinder scored an 8-2 victory.

Will Mauro’s forfeit win at 106 pounds (Law’s Zach Anderson held out because of injury), boosted Foran’s lead to 21-0.

Sophomore Gino Esposito, who set a program record last year with 35 victories, traded takedowns for escapes to take an 8-2 lead before pinning freshman Tyler Francouer in 1:09.

The 120-pound match featured strong defensive wrestling with the Lions’ Elijah Moretti scoring two points in each period to defeat Rachel Escobar, 6-0.

Luth met Rebentisch, who was fifth in Class M as a junior, at 126 pounds and led 4-1 after one, 9-2 after two before winning a 13-2 major decision.

Berg was next on the mat for the Lawmen, and the accomplished Witte was his opponent.

After a good scramble late in the first period, Berg got the takedown for a 2-0 lead.

Berg followed an escape with a quick move to get around Witte for the takedown and a 5-0 lead after two.

From the neutral position, Witte looked for a headlock before Berg got a 2-on-1 leg takedown to emerge with a 7-0 victory.

That bout began a string of matches noteworthy because of both talent and intensity.

Foran’s J.R. Pellegrino and Law’s Jordan Betz went back and forth in an entertaining matchup of 138-pound seniors, before Betz won by fall.

Pellegrino caught his rival off balance and scored a quick four points and then matched two escapes with a takedown for a 6-2 lead after one.

Betz took Pellegrino off his feet and brought him to the mat early in the final frame, but the Lion fought off the pin attempt.

Betz was resolute, and took Pellegrino to his back at the 1:28 mark and got the pin call with 37 seconds remaining.

Patrick Fitzgerald put Foran back in the win column with a great stack to pin Dan Ouelette with three seconds left in the first period.

Law sophomore Matt Grace showed off his skills at 152 pounds with a first-period fall (1:36) over Nick Vanchot to bring the score to 40-15.

The best match of the night came in the 160-pound class, where Foran’s freshman Qasim Khan met junior Devin Bannon.

The duo swapped takedowns and escapes to end the first period tied 3-3.

Khan put his legs in to start the second stanza, but Khan slipped out midway through and got the reversal for a 5-3 lead.

This set up an epic third frame that saw Bannon take an 8-5 lead before Khan scored a reversal with 17 seconds left and earned two back points at the buzzer to force overtime at 9-9.

Bannon got underneath early in the extra session and took Khan to his back for a pin at the 17-second mark of the one-minute overtime.

Ricky Kratzer took the sting away for the Lions with a 41-second pin of Joe Coury in the 170-pound match.

Law senior Max German defeated junior Noah Hubler, a sixth-place finisher in Class M at 170 pounds, 7-0 in the night’s final bout at 182 pounds.