Trojans crunch Knights

MOUNT UNION – Before Monday’s dual meet season finale, Mount Union’s 10 seniors – more than half of them starters – lined up along the mat for recognition.

Along with some help from the underclassment, the Trojans plowed through a short-staffed Moshannon Valley after that, winning the Inter-County Conference match 66-10.

It may seem like it was a match for nothing – the dual meet tournaments are past, and West Branch already clinched the league title – but the attitude in Mount Union has always been that there’s no bout too small to wrestle, and no opponent unworthy of a best effort.

The Black Knights felt the pain of those two beliefs.

And some of the fight demonstrated by Mount Union’s youngsters gives promise for next year.

Moshannon Valley got the first six points the easy way, then saw the Trojans put 23 points on the board before the Knights won for the second and final time in the match. And they can thank Mount Union lightweight Bryton Stidfole for the brief lead they enjoyed – he gave it to them, Mount Union coach Corey Wertz explained.

“I said to Bryton before the match, ‘Here’s the two kids. I’m going to let you pick who you want to wrestle,'” Wertz said. “He said, ‘I want to wrestle that 113-pounder.’ I said, ‘OK, let’s go – let’s go after him.'”

Stidfole scored first on Joey Vanish, but trailed 5-2 at the end of the first. He got a point back and showed most of the offense in the second, then took back the lead on a reversal and takedown in the third. He didn’t settle for a decision, though – Stidfole decked Vanish to even the team score.

Sage Moist pinned Liam Bennett at 120, then after a forfeit came the match Wertz pointed to as a particular favorite.

“I’ll tell you who I liked today – Robbie Steel really started to show some offense,” Wertz said. “We’ve been trying to get that out of him for a couple weeks now, and I’m glad he opened up a little bit.”

Outside of a takedown early in the 132-pound bout, Steel did all the scoring on the way to a 17-2 technical fall; Nick Krupa helped him with a couple penalty points in the third.

Even in a loss, Andrew Tress showed spunk against the Knights’ Bryce Bloom at 138, which gave Moshannon Valley its other win. Tress avoided the tech fall and for two periods was at least in contention.

“Against a good kid. That kid’s good,” Wertz stressed. “And Andrew went our there and battled him for a little while. That’s all you can ask out of these kids. He did alright.”

It was pretty much a landslide after that, with most of the bouts ending early. Tyler Long (145), Phil Kyle (182) and Darrian Stapleton (220) all pinned their opponents; Dylan Smith (160) and Devon Kylor (170) had tech falls. Nik Smith (285) ended the night with a win by decision.

All six of them were in the lineup along the mat when the match began.

“Other kids need to look at that and say, ‘It’s our turn to step up.’ That’s what it needs to be,” Wertz said. “The district tournament coming up for these seniors, it’s their turn to put the exclamation point on their careers. We’ll worry about next year when it gets here. I want to make another run at that district tournament – there’s still another title up for grabs.”

The District 6 Class AA meet begins Friday morning in Altoona.

Notes: Wertz said Dylan Smith’s move to 160 would stay in effect when he enters the district tournament. Kyle – who outgoing football coach Dayton Shugarts said tipped the scales around 215 in the fall – cut enough weight to make 182 for the match, but it was undetermined whether he would stay there or return to 195 for the postseason.