MOUNT UNION – Mount Union wrestling coach Corey Wertz was unhappy that his team fell 43-24 to rival Huntingdon in their non-league dual meet Tuesday.
But it wasn’t the Bearcats he had it in for – it was his own team.
The Trojans got beat on the scoreboard. They lost on the mat. But that wasn’t the most important way that Huntingdon took advantage.
“I don’t know how in the world you can go into a wrestling match, in a rivalry, and get out-hearted,” Wertz said. “They wrestled with way more heart than we did. I give them credit – they wanted it.”
It was a matter, he felt, of too many people expecting the next guy to take care of things instead of doing it for themselves.
“You’ve got to do your job. You can’t wait for somebody else and rely on other people,” Wertz said emphatically.
It’s always a chess match when these two meet, but it seemed like Huntingdon coach Jon Mykut played with two queens on his side of the board. He disagreed – everyone, he said, played a role in the outcome – but the early strategy of getting the right guy at the right weight proved advantageous for the visitors.
The Bearcats’ Matt Norris and Mount Union’s Phil Kyle traded pins to open the meet, giving Mount Union a chance to go on a run of wins with Darrian Stapleton taking the mat at 220 – the second of seven upperclassmen the Trojans would send out. Huntingdons’ Mitchell Lauer surprised Stapleton with an early takedown, but the two were tied going into the second – and Stapleton carried a 7-4 lead into the third.
But the Bearcat grappler managed a late takedown to force a tie and got one more just 11 seconds into the suddenvictory period, giving the first momentum swing to Huntingdon.
“We had that as a toss-up and Mitchell’s a goer. He’s not going to quit. He’s one of those guys that just grinds and grinds,” Mykut said. “That definitely was a big win in OT.”
Mount Union went back on top with a Nik Smith pin at heavyweight and a forfeit at 106, then gave back six to Colin Glorioso, who pinned Trojan Mason Craig in 38 seconds at 113.
Sage Moist (120) and Jake Boozel (126) squeezed out a pair of decisions for the home team before Huntingdon went on a rampage, winning all the remaining bouts, including a technical fall and two major decisions. If there was any place the Trojans might have hoped to make an emotional turn, it would have been at 152, where Huntingdon’s Jon Wagner eked out a 3-2 decision over Dylan Smith, with all but one Smith escape in the final period.
“People are going to be hearing a lot more about that young man,” Mykut said of his sophomore. “He’s athletic as all get out and he has a heart that doesn’t stop.”
Mount Union (10-3) now travels to Tyrone, another non-league district opponent, Thursday before heading to the Juniata Duals Saturday, where the Trojans will be one of the odds-on favorites to win the title. But Wertz knows that’s going to require effort by more people than he got it from Tuesday.
“I’m not going to call any individual out. I’m going to say this: When you have a group of seniors, your seniors are expected to step up and do the job. If they don’t, who’s going to do it?,” he said. “I take nothing away from Huntingdon – they’re a great team. But so are we. We didn’t show it tonight.”
But bragging rights for a year in this one head a dozen miles up Route 22.
“We beat a quality team. That’s a big win for us,” Mykut said. “Anytime you come down to their gym and get a ‘W’ that’s a special night.”