BLOOMFIELD – Austin Payne spent most of the first period of his last match on Senior Night at Davis County fighting from underneath.

With seconds ticking away, it appeared Knoxville junior Sean Collins had control of the 145-pound match heading into the second period. Two words from the Davis County coaches, however, helped Payne turn the match around.

"Keep wrestling!"

Payne heeded those instructions, rolling his way through for a tying reversal as time expired in the first. Just 18 seconds into the second period, Payne continued to take over working his way to a Senior Night fall during a South Central Conference quadrangular on Thursday night.

"You don't stop until the ref makes you stop," Payne said. "I just fought through. I caught an opening in his weakness, juted out, he snagged my leg but I was able to kick it free and spun around for those two points."

Payne picked up two big wins in between Senior Night ceremonies, scoring the decisive victory for the Mustangs in a 39-36 win over Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. Payne held off Rocket junior Alex Garman, 9-5, to clinch Davis County's third dual victory this season.

"I knew when it came down to those last three matches, we needed to pull something out really quick," Payne said. "I went out there and did my best. I didn't want to give up on my team and definitely didn't want to give up on my coaches."

Knoxville would walk away from Bloomfield with three SCC dual wins, edging Davis County 40-27 despite the thrilling pin by Payne. The Panthers finished the night with a 59-22 win over EBF after opening with a 48-24 win over Centerville.

Payne was honored on Thursday along with injured senior teammate Marcus Elam as part of the festivities. Both wrestlers made sure to mention how thankful they were to get the opportunity to have one final season on the mat during a season contested in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was looking a little hairy at the beginning not knowing. We've had matches canceled and moved around on the schedule," Payne said. "We're super thankful to be allowed to wrestle. I'm thankful to be here. I'm nothing but grateful for this whole wrestling experience. I love my coaches. I love my team. I'm more than thankful to be a Mustang. It's a good way to go out."

Centerville secured a split by rallying to edge EBF, 36-33, thanks to a forfeit at 160 pounds for Payton Sales after Leland Henderson avoided a fall in a 5-1 loss at 152 pounds to Cayne Hall. Nathaniel Genobana kicked off the comeback against the Rockets by scoring his second first-period fall of the night for the Big Reds.

Three-time state champion Matthew Lewis made a successful return to the mat, scoring his first two wins of 2021. After pinning Collins in 66 seconds, Lewis tied the dual with EBF at 30-30 by pinning German 36 seconds into the second period, clinching his second 145-pound win of the night.

"It felt good to get back out there at a new weight," Lewis said. "I feel like I had some strength and some energy out there on the mat. I can focus really well. I've been busting my butt in the wrestling room, staying in shape, going on runs and scrapping with Nathaniel.

"I'm not going to suck myself down anymore. I'm going to focus on getting better."

Despite going 0-3 in duals, EBF head wrestling coach Scott Williamson saw more improvement from his young Rocket grapplers. Cayne Hall scored two wins at 152 pounds, pinning Davis County junior Easton White to open the night, while Garman closed the night earning a 14-3 major decision over Collins while Cadyn Hall pinned Knoxville sophomore Brock Roozenboom in just 66 seconds of a 120-pound match.

"Cayne hit some techniques that we've trying to get him to do all year," Williamson said. "We've got kids fighting really hard through the matches. I'm really happy with our progression through the season from what we were doing early in the season to what we're doing now. We just have to keep taking ground."

EBF (6-14) will head to BGM next Thursday to tangle with the Bears and North Mahaska. The Rockets came into the quadrangular at Bloomfield having placed third in the North Mahaska Invitational this past weekend highlighted by led individual championships won by Cadyn Hall at 120 pounds and Kyler Ricard at 160.

Davis County (3-5) bounced back from a 51-27 loss on Tuesday to Ottumwa Invitational team champion Kirksville, featuring wins by White and Drake Hamm. The Mustangs are scheduled to be one of 16 teams to compete at the Mike Halupnick Big Red Invitational, hosted by Centerville (2-6) on Saturday starting at 9:30 a.m.

"This will be the first time I've actually been a part of our home tournament since I wrestled in it," Centerville head wrestling coach Jared Bevins said. "It's been snowed out the last two years. The wrestling community of Centerville is extremely supportive of the tournament. It's something I've been looking forward to since I got here. I understand the atmosphere of that tournament. It'll be different without fans, but we're looking to get some good hard matches in."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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