Home sweet home

MIFFLINTOWN – Juniata’s wrestling team welcomed Halifax to town for the Indians’ first home dual meet of the season – and then asked the Wildcats to wait for senior night activities, since it’s also the last dual Juniata will host outside a tournament this year.

The outcome was never really in doubt – Juniata accumulated 28 points in the first six matches without sacrificing one – but the gesture by the Dauphin County team was much appreciated by the local club.

“We appreciate Halifax being willing to actually change the location of the match,” said Juniata coach Mike Robinson, noting that the dual was to have been held on the Susquehanna River’s east shore. “I have to give all the thanks in the world to their athletic director and coaching staff that they were willing to do that for us – otherwise we wouldn’t have had this home match.”

Or any home match at all, other than those wrestled as part of the trio of dual meet tournaments the Indians will hold this season.

As a host, though, the Indians were anything but generous. Halifax won just two matches as Juniata took a 61-12 victory away from the Tri-Valley League event.

Tylynn Miller flattened Jon Geiling to open the meet, which ran from light to heavy, and Halifax forfeited the next one. If there was a chance for the Wildcats to change the tone, it would have been at 120 and 126.

Juniata’s Zach Snyder took on Tanner Weldon in the first of those, and took a 5-2 lead out of the first, then added four points on a reversal and two-point near fall in the second. But Weldon turned it back and picked up three back points to cut the different to two; the scoreless third period – with Logan on the bottom – was the difference.

In the next match, Juniata’s Kobe Benner and Hunter Enders went without a score until just 10 seconds were left in the third period, when Benner worked a reverse to win that one.

“As a freshman, Zach Snyder’s been a bright spot for us already this year. He’s already proven himself that he’s more than able to compete at that weight,” Robinson said. “They wrestled with a lot of heart. The Halifax kids, they came out, wrestled tough – there were some good scrappy matches. We ended up on the short end in a couple of them.”

Richie Gilson had what appeared on the outside to be an easy win at 132, but his coach saw it differently. But it was an unusual bout just the same in light of the controversy swirling around another TVL school that landed in a federal courtroom. Apparently, unlike Line Mountain, Halifax is more concerned with dedication and desire than with gender when building its wrestling roster, which is how Amber Laudenslager ended up across the mat from Gilson.

“I think it’s a good point that she had the opportunity to wrestle,” Robinson said. “She’s willing to compete and compete against a young man – that’s fine.”

For two periods, it was all Gilson’s match, as he used six takedowns and a tilt to build a 14-4 lead. In the third, Laudenslager chose defense and was reversed, seemingly ending any change of her winning. But when Gilson went for more back points, she twice had him in peril of a defensive pin, and eventually got a reverse of her own.

When Gilson got back in control, one long tilt away from a technical fall, Robinson put the brakes on – not for her sake, but for his, he explained.

“He had his hands full – and at times you could see where he was a little concerned. She proved herself – she’s a tough competitor,” Robinson said. “I’ll be honest with you, she actually put him in danger. She actually put Richie on his back. As a coach, I could see that was actually playing out.”

It was mostly pins and forfeits after that. Dylan Feltman (138) and Jared Benner (160) each picked up six on the mat; Cole Kellison (152) completed a tech fall late in the third and Taylor Foster (195) had a major decision for the final contested win by Juniata.

Halifax got its points on pins at 145 and heavyweight.

“(We have) only three seniors and we’re a young team. They’re going to have their growing pains,” Robinson said. “I think they’re really improving themselves though. They’re working hard and the matches that we’ve wrestled so far, they’re competing as a team.”

Juniata (6-1, 2-0) heads to Sunbury for the Shikellamy Duals Saturday.