LEWISTOWN - If there was any question whether Mifflin County's wrestling team was going to fit well into the Mid-Penn Conference, the answer was delivered by the team's lighter grapplers Thursday night.
The Huskies stunned Central Dauphin East in a match that ran the traditional weight lineup, winning the first nine bouts - seven of them with bonus points - en route to a 51-15 Commonwealth Division win over the Panthers.
Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
Mifflin County’s Isaac Underhill, bottom, throws Central Dauphin East’s Tanner Trephan to the mat for a takedown in their 120-pound bout Thursday in Lewistown. Underhill won a major decision.
Mifflin County simply hammered the visitors to the mat, disallowing any effort by the Panthers to score offensively. In those nine matches, Central Dauphin East managed just four takedowns, and three of those were first-period points.
"The goal for us is to wear down our opponent," Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin explained. "We might give up an early takedown, but the goal is to wear them down and keep attacking and win the match overall."
Attack? More like a barrage of purple that had the Panthers not just on their heels, but on their backs - or at least, close to it.
IF YOU GO
Mifflin County travels to the King of the Mountain Tournament today
The first two matches wrestled defined the kind of bad night Central Dauphin East was going to have on its first trip up U.S. 322.
At 106 pounds, the Huskies' Daulton Wilson turned Anthony Radic in the first and second periods - just missing a pin at the buzzer in the first - and got two stall points to make a technical fall. Then at 113, Hayden Hidley kept his freshman winning streak alive when he scored four takedowns and got back points twice in the first against Ervin Jones, then showed him the lights 23 seconds into the second period.
Isaac Underhill surrendered an early takedown at 120, but turned his match back quickly, ending on the up side of a 10-2 major decision. Then Noah Stewart (126) and returning state qualifier Lucas Besch (132) each decked their counterparts in the first period; Besch put Joe Porter on his back in less than a minute. That made it 27-0 in favor of Mifflin County - out of 30 possible team points - before a straight decision was won.
"In dual meets we stress bonus points. It's what can make or break a close match," Martin said. "In this match, I thought we could get a lot of bonus points in our light weights. The kids executed - that's a big part of it."
At 138, Kevin Bair worked hardest among the Huskies for a win, giving the first points to the Panthers' Cody Cavrich, then taking a lead and stretching it before the third, where Cavrich worked his way back to the top. An escape by Bair tied it, and he scored a takedown 20 seconds into the sudden victory period for the win.
Brandon Wilson (145) and Darion Pierce (160) wrapped a pair of falls around a hard-fought decision by Joe Knarr, that would have been a major but for a late escape by Central Dauphin East's Cevon Nguyen.
The Panthers went on a small but somewhat meaningless run after that, winning the next four weight classes - three decisions and a pin - before Kyle Kahley ended the night in the Huskies' favor with a pin exactly on the buzzer that ended the first period at heavyweight.
"Our upper weights are kids that haven't wrestled since elementary. They started wrestling in junior high," Martin noted. "We are still working with them every day in practice. They'll get better."
Mifflin County has little time to rest for its next outing - the Huskies hit the road today for Central Mountain High School, where they will take part in the King of the Mountain tournament; then they're back home Tuesday for the first of two duals meets on the slate next week.
"When we saw our schedule at the beginning of the year, we knew it was going to be a lot of matches in a very short period of time," Martin said. "The key right now is just managing our weight, making sure our conditioning is taken care of and of course making sure that the kids know exactly what (we expect)."