Huskies upended by late falls

LEWISTOWN – Mifflin County held a 13-point lead when the 160-pound bout began in Wednesday’s non-league meet against District 6 rival Central Mountain.

The Wildcats’ Gavin Caprio stormed out to a 7-0 lead and added four more points in the second period, and then something happened – Darion Pierce happened. Pierce reversed Caprio and had him on the mat for the better part of a minute, looking for a sudden six-point upset that likely would have changed the outcome of the dual.

But Caprio stayed off his back, pulled out a major decision and then saw two of his teammates ice the Huskies in the next two bouts. The result – a 33-29 victory for the visitors.

Devin Stacey pinned McKenon Todaro at 170 and newcomer Loc Long surprised Jake Lilley with a look at the lights at 182 to send the score in Central Mountain’s favor, and the Huskies weren’t able to recover.

“Anytime late in a match when a team can get two consecutive falls it’s going to give them a little bit more energy,” Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin said. “The key tonight was every kid gave 100 percent effort. When you do that opportunities arise. We had our opportunities.”

Pierce was an opportunity. But there were others – including a couple of strong showings in the lower weights that gave Mifflin County its edge.

After trading decisions, Central Mountain was handed a 9-3 lead with a forfeit at 113, the spot normally occupied by Hayden Hidlay, who Martin said has returned to practice after a concussion. Then came Central Mountain coach Doug Buckwalter’s strategy with weight moves, one that Mifflin County had an answer for.

The Wildcats’ Keenan Botdorf moved to 120, where Isaac Underhill dealt him a major decision. Noah Stewart (126) and Lucas Besch (132) eached picked up bonus points with technical falls, pitting Kevin Bair against Cole Hanley at 138, the last bump by Central Mountain.

“We were 99 percent sure they were going to bump Botdorf up. We got Underhill ready – mentally, you’ve got to prepare kids for something like that,” Martin said. “I did think because of (Bottorf) moving from 113 to 120 we would be physically stronger, and I think that showed in that match.”

So when Bair put Hanley on his back, the shifting roster didn’t seem to have helped – and the home team had a 23-9 advantage on the scoreboard.

“Our stretch over Christmas break was not good and Cumberland Valley was not good and I was concerned about how we would respond tonight,” Martin said. “As a team, the kids up and down the lineup did an outstanding job. This was one of our best matches top to bottom.

“I feel like we’ve gotten over the little slump we had.”

But after a Brandon Wilson decision at 145, the next four went to the Wildcats – with eight bonus points to go with the wins.

Still, the outcomes – including the last one, a 5-3 sudden victory decision by the Huskies’ Kyle Kahley over Cameron Porter at 220 – were enough to tell Central Mountain that the district title might be up for grabs this year.

“Kahley is just growing leaps and bounds. He’s really absorbing everything we’re teaching him. He did an oustanding job wrestling Porter, who is one of the kids at 220 that might be favored in our district,” Martin said. “There is no favorite in District 6 right now. It’s going to come down to getting your kids to peak for the district duals and getting the right matchups. Tonight we wanted to throw our hat in the mix and I think we did.”

Mifflin County (8-3) hosts State College tonight.