Looking forward

MOUNT UNION – It didn’t take long for the question to change from whether Mount Union would defeat Tyrone in Thursday’s non-league wrestling match, but how and when.

Eventually, even that turned into a much simpler issue: the margin of victory. Thanks to a collection of bonus-point wins and a handful of Tyrone forfeits, the outcome was 51-19 in favor of the Trojans.

At which point it became an opportunistic match, one in which Mount Union coach Corey Wertz could study what his wrestlers were doing wrong – whether winning or losing.

Among those was a nice surprise at 152 pounds, where Jeremy Hess turned a match he was losing into a six-point victory. Tyrone’s Nicholas Getz had two takedowns and a three-point tilt in the first period and was ahead 9-2 in the second when Hess escaped and then quickly put Getz on the mat, straight to his back for a pin.

Things were not so easy for the Trojans’ Robbie Steel at 138. Luke McCloskey held a slim lead after one, getting a takedown, being reversed then reversing Steel. But McCloskey picked up four more takedowns and turned Steel twice across the next two periods, getting almost half the points for his 19-4 technical fall in the final set.

“Jeremy got a win, but he’s got to protect his legs better, him and Robbie both,” Wertz said. “Like I told him as soon as he came off the mat, ‘I’ll take it – a win’s a win, but we’ve got to work on improving your leg defense.'”

Tyrone gave a dozen points coming in – and there were only 13 bouts because neither team had a lightweight – so the measure of success became the ability to avoid disappointment. The Golden Eagles won just four bouts, but three of those included bonus points – two tech falls and a pin. That’s why Wertz wanted to see the same pursuit on his side of the mat.

“There were some kids that were aggressive,” he said. “I thought Jake (Boozel) wrestled a good kid tough – he very easily could have won that match. He made a mistake, the kid got on his legs late. (Tyler Foor’s) been looking better lately. Tyler Long has been wrestling better lately.”

Boozel had his hands full with Jason Schopp at 126, the second match of the night. After a scoreless first, Schopp escaped from the start but was taken down in the second before scoring offensively in the third to win 3-2. Foor opened the meet at 120 by showing Ty Snyder the lights, and Long was leading William Sessamen 10-0 when he flattened him in the second at 145.

Tyrone, trailing by two before that one started, never got close on the scoreboard again. The Trojans were ahead 33-8 before Tyrone won another bout; even with two in a row in the upper weights, the dual was effectively over because Mount Union had six more coming for free and there was a double forfeit before the end as well.

Pins by Philip Kyle (220) and McKennon Burns (285) ended the wrestling portion of the night before the two non-matches.

“We were set up for a letdown after Huntingdon on Tuesday,” Wertz said of the abbreviated dual. “I thought we did okay considering.”

The lesson to be learned is more about what’s coming than what’s left behind for the Trojans, who entered the night as the third-ranked team in the District 6 Class AA dual meet standings. Mount Union heads to Juniata Saturday for the Indians’ dual meet tournament, and needs to stay in the top four to host a team tournament meet at the end of the month.

That, Wertz says, requires a team effort.

“Everybody in that lineup’s important – everyone – top to bottom,” he said. “That’s why even these guys who are winning, they still have to improve also. A couple of matches are going to come down to one or two guys, and nobody knows who that’s going to be. You’ve got to prepare.”