Huskies fall short in effort to return to state duals

TYRONE – For the Mifflin County wrestling team, Saturday’s performance produced a bittersweet ending for the Huskies in the 2014 District 6 team wrestling championships.

For the Huskies, you might label it as the one that slipped away.

One year ago, the Huskies defeated Central Mountain for the District 6 duals title to earn a trip to the state duals in Hershey after dropping the regular season meet to the Wildcats.

Saturday afternoon in the Tyrone Area High School gymnasium, the Huskies had the same opportunity facing them. However, this time it turned out to be a case of opportunity lost for Mifflin County as the victory that would have meant a return trip to Hershey slipped through their fingers into a disappointing one-point defeat at the hands of the Wildcats.

“It was a good dual meet,” said a disappointed Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin. “It came down to a point and from the fans’ standpoint, it was fun to watch.”

On the plus side, Mifflin County was paired against Bellefonte in its semifinal meet to begin the day’s activities and the Huskies responded with a 42-29 win over the Red Raiders to set up the rematch in the finals.

Starting at 145, the Huskies won seven of their first eight bouts, six by falls, to build up a commanding 39-6 lead to turn the lineup over to the lightweights.

Bellefonte’s strength is in the lightweights and they proved that to be the case as the Raiders ripped off five straight wins to cut their deficit to ten points (29-39) before Isaac Underhill put the lid on the Mifflin County win with a 2-0 decision over Zach Musser.

“Two things hurt us today,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said. “Starting at 145 was right in their wheelhouse and then we lost the coin toss and that allowed them to move some guys around on us. But you have to deal with what is handed to you and it all came down to bonus points. They were able to get some where we weren’t able to get falls and majors. Those things add up and for us, that was the difference in the match.”

With the win over the Raiders, it was on to the finals and the rematch with Central Mountain.

Starting at 152, Noah Stewart got the Huskies off and running with a lopsided 14-0 major decision over Caleb Turner, but the Wildcats came back with three straight wins to take a 10-4 lead.

The Huskies won two of the three bouts necessary to turn the lineup over on identical 3-2 wins by Timmy Pearce at 195 and Colton Craig at 285.

In the regular season matchup, Craig was pinned by Central Mountain’s Bryce Hanley, but this time Craig was able to persevere for a 3-2 win over the Central Mountain heavyweight.

“I think the matchups in the upper weights is what did us in,” Martin said. “Add to that we just didn’t get the bonus points we needed in the lighter weights where we needed them. I think the toughest part (of coaching) is how to teach kids how to step it up a level when it comes to a stage like this and we didn’t do that.”

Geo Barzona gave the Wildcats a 17-10 advantage at 106 with a 12-1 major decision win, but Noah Myers was also able to avenge a regular season loss to Chris Confer with a 9-0 major.

Kyle Smith picked up a key win for the Huskies at 120 with an 8-2 win over Draven King, deadlocking the dual at 17-all with four bouts left.

Keanan Bottorf swung the pendulum back in favor of the Wildcats with a 10-2 major decision at 126, but Underhill picked up his second win of the day with a 16-2 major decision over Sam Watkins at 132.

Underhill nearly pinned Watkins twice during the bout, but couldn’t get the call.

With an ace in the hole waiting in the wings in the person of state-ranked Haydn Hidlay, the Huskies regained the lead when Hidlay posted a 14-5 major decision over Emery Watson. With the Hidlay major, Mifflin County went on top 25-21 with just one bout left.

With the meet hanging in the balance, Central Mountain’s Demetri Probst needed a major decision to tie the meet, while a technical fall or pin would send the Wildcats home a winner.

Building up leads of 6-1 and 18-6 after the first two periods respectively, Probst scored two more of his 10 takedowns in the bout for a 23-8 technical fall 31 seconds into the final period to turn a possible return trip to Chocolatetown for the Huskies into a frustrating loss.

With the duals tournament behind them, the Huskies can now focus on preparing for the individual tournament coming up in a few weeks.

“We have a lot of time off before the individuals,” Martin said. “As for how to deal with the time off after this frustrating loss, I really don’t know. We never had to face this situation before.”