End game

YORK SPRING – It was a long ride down into District 3 for Mount Union, which had to wrestle Bermudian Springs in the Eagles’ own gym in the preliminary round of the PIAA Class AA team wrestling tournament Monday.

Despite a relatively good performance, it probably was a longer ride home for the Trojans, who saw the dual meet portion of their season come to an end in a 38-21 loss. The wrestle-in round is single elimination.

Mount Union led the match early thanks to a pair of gutsy overtime wins that offset a forfeit the District 6 runner-up gave at 106 pounds. But when the middle of Bermudian’s lineup went to work, the home squad went on a rampage, taking six out of seven bouts before Mount Union ended the night with a win.

Worse yet, most of those Bermudian Spring victories were good for more than three points on the scoreboard, which is where most of the damage was done.

“We won six matches – I can’t complain about that,” Mount Union coach Corey Wertz said. “We knew they had some quality kids in their upper weights. We knew they were going to get some wins.

“We didn’t control the bonus points as much as we could have. That’s what made it seem a little more lopsided.”

The draw put heavyweight Nikolas Smith on the mat first, and the slow-moving match was led by Bermudian’s Noah Hakes going into the third, 1-0 on a Hakes escape in the second. But Hakes had a stall warning – Smith got one, too – and when the Eagle grappler tried to stall out the match he was hit for a tying point with seven seconds left in regulation.

Another stall call cost him the bout.

After the forfeit, Sage Moist brought the Trojans back to even after giving up the first takedown at 113. He had a 3-2 lead after two, got reversed, but got that point back when the Eagles’ Dalton Becker was penalized for an illegal hold. It took just 14 seconds into the extra period for Moist to score again, ending that one in Mount Union’s favor.

Tyler Foor gave the visitors the lead with a 5-4 decision at 120, scoring a late takedown in the first and tilting Chase Mueller in the second. But in what became an issue for both teams all night, Foor also was hit with a penalty point when, after being taken down, he was called for fleeing the mat.

“Nik, Sage and Tyler got it started. We did okay, we really did,” said Wertz, who agreed the high number of technical calls and cautions were problematic for both squads. “I don’t know if the cautions were the result of the referees or us, but it seemed like it was going both ways.”

That was when Bermudian sent in the Marines – Ted Marines, whose major over Jake Boozel gave the Eagles a one-point team lead. That lasted one match, until Kord Aurand pinned Jake Ford quickly in the 132-pound class.

But the Trojans won just two more after that: Tyler Long held on for a 5-4 decision at 152, then Philip Kyle won the 220-pound finale with a 5-2 outcome.

Along the way, the Eagles pinned two, majored a pair and got a technical fall.

“We’ve got 22 wins, 22 dual wins this year. You can’t complain about that,” said Wertz, who recalled Saturday’s district semifinal win over Huntingdon, which he called the best effort of the year. “I thought we had a pretty good mindset. I thought we battled for the most part.

“I told the kids coming in we needed that same kind of effort tonight,” he said. “I’m not going to say we didn’t get that effort, we just came up a little bit short.”

It didn’t help that the bracket allows whoever is on top in the pigtail round to have a home dual, rather than calling for a neutral site. But Wertz wasn’t blaming the venue.

“There’s definitely a disadvantage, but you know what? You do what you’ve got to do,” he said. “If that’s what they say we have to do in order to move on, then that’s what you do.”

Mount Union ends with a 22-4 record. The Trojans now have to prepare for the District 6 Class AA individual tournament, Feb. 15-16 at Altoona.