MILL HALL - All things considered, it was a good opening day for the two area wrestling teams that made the trip to Central Mountain Friday as they combined for a total of seven wrestlers still alive in the quarterfinals of the 2012 King of the Mountain Tournament.
Leading the way is Mifflin County as the Huskies qualified five wrestlers for this morning's championship quarters, while Juniata still has a pair of wrestlers on track for a possible gold medal.
The Huskies started off with a bang as they won their first seven matches before they ran into a brick wall, dropping five in a row before 285-pounder Kyle Kahley picked up an opening round win.
Sentinel photo by NATE?WILSON
Mifflin County’s Lucas Besch, back, puts the squeeze on Central Mountain’s Cole Hanley in the second round of the King of the Mountain wrestling tournament at Central Mountain Friday. Besch defeated Hanley and another Wildcat wrestler to advance to today’s quarterfinals.
"Overall, we have two halves to our lineup," Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin said. "We have our kids who have wrestled a long time from elementary on up through this type of competition and that is what they are used to. Then on the other hand, we have our upper weights who are still very green. I think the way we wrestled from top to bottom was pretty much of what I expected, maybe hoping for a surprise here and there."
Winning two matches and advancing to the quarters were Daulton Wilson (106), Hayden Hidlay (113), Isaac Underhill (120), Noah Stewart (126) and Lucas Besch (132).
"As the tournament progresses you hope to see the conditioning come out," Martin said. "You hope to see them wrestling disciplined and going into overtime confident that they can beat the kid and we saw that in a couple of our wins today. The kids (Underhill and Stewart) who came off the mat after their overtime wins both said they felt good going into overtime and that is a nice thing to hear and to know they have that in their backpack when they step on the mat to wrestle."
Other Husky wrestlers who posted opening-round wins before falling in the Round of 16 were Kevin Bair (138), Brandon Wilson (145) and Kahley.
While Mifflin County enjoyed early success, Juniata fell on hard times as the Indians could only advance three wrestlers past the opening round.
Winning their initial matches for Juniata were Richie Gilson (120), Sean Heggs (138) and Luke Nanna (145), with Gilson and Heggs picking up second-round wins to stay alive in the championship bracket while Nanna dropped his second bout of the day and fell back in the consolation bracket.
"It is nice to see those guys doing well by coming out through the championship and we have quite a few left in the wrestle backs, which is a big plus also," Juniata coach Mike Robinson said. "This team is here to battle and they are going to walk away at the end of the tournament knowing that they gave it their best."
As for what his kids can take from the tournament, Robinson feels it has a lot to do with the different styles of their opponents.
"There are so many different styles here," he said. "There are kids from Ohio, New Jersey, all parts of Pennsylvania and even some New York teams. With all the different styles, you never know what to expect. One of the biggest things I saw from our kids was that they battled through each match. Nobody has any medals hanging around their neck so we'll take what we can get."
One from each school stayed alive in the bottom bracket Friday and will wrestle in the fourth consolation today: Luke Nanna of Juniata at 145 and Joe Knarr of Mifflin County at 152.
Wrestling starts this morning at 10 a.m. with a round of consolations and quarterfinals. Championship semifinals and another consolation round follow.