HUNTINGDON - Fans needed to check their boredom at the door Tuesday when Mifflin County arrived for a dual meet against Huntingdon.
There were 14 full bouts featuring head-on battles, comeback kids and breathtaking outcomes. In just the second match wrestled, more than 30 points were posted to the scoreboard - not one was a back point - and it ended a straight decision.
Unfortunately for the Bearcats, most of the jubilation was tinted purple. Huntingdon held a lead briefly at the outset, but surrendered too much along the way in a 44-17 loss to the Huskies.
Sentinel photo by JEFF?FISHBEIN
Mifflin County’s Zach Peachey, top, tries to turn Huntingdon’s Mitchell Lauver at 182 pounds Tuesday. Peachey, who was nearly pinned in the match, managed a 14-8 decision.. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com.
The lead officially became the visitors' in the night's third match, at 170 pounds, when Brandon Michael pancaked Kris Bookamer in the second period. It wouldn't be until there were just three matches left to wrestle that the score was out of reach for the Bearcats, when Husky Lucas Besch got a 6-1 decision against Nathan Russell at 126, the second time the two met with similar outcome in a week's time.
Mifflin County survived on the keys to success coach Kirby Martin preaches: training, conditioning and preparedness. In the latter category, it was his knowledge of Huntingdon's strength - and how to counter it - that played a key role in several bouts when Martin had his wrestlers surrender escapes on restarts and stay on their feet.
"I knew Huntingdon is always good on the mat. I was happy with how we got out from the bottom. But we were getting rolled on top," he said. "To stay away from that it was better to go to our feet because we were winning the takedown battle."
Mifflin County hosts Altoona Thursday
After Josh Bafia opened with a major at 152 to give the Bearcats (2-1) the lead, Harry Lowber and Zach Romano tangled in the busiest match at 160. Lowber's four third-period takedowns - he had eight in the match - became a 19-13 decision that could have tied the match but for a late reversal by the Bearcat grappler.
Brandon Michael turned a one-point deficit into a five-point lead with his pin, and then one of two crucial bouts in the upper weights started the crushing onslaught.
Zach Peachey, who took a 9-1 lead out of the second period at 182, was the victim of a five-point move in the third and was on the verge of ending the night on his back. But Huntingdon's Mitchell Lauver couldn't seal the deal.
"Peachey fought off his back and still won his match - that was huge because that was a nine-point swing," Martin noted. "Besides Peachey, there were a couple other kids that fought off their backs and didn't get pinned."
The teams traded bonus-point wins at 195 (Huntingdon's Nathan Shope, a major) and 220 (Mifflin County's Tyson Searer, by fall), setting the stage for a memorable seven-period, eight and a half minute battle at heavyweight.
Mifflin County's Kyle Kahley seemed to be in trouble in that one, down 4-2 after two periods and tying it up with his third escape with a minute to go in the third. That and the one-minute sudden victory period went without a score, and Martin gambled by telling Kahley to give the free escape to start the twin 30-second tiebreakers. He got it back, and went to the ultimate tiebreaker locked at 6-6 with the choice to Huntingdon's Dalton Kocik.
Kocik opted to try for the escape. Kahley opted to put Kocik on his back.
"Kahley's in his first year of wrestling, but he's such a good athlete," Martin said. "The key was he really does work hard in practice and his conditioning was good. I'm sure he did not expect to go the distance like that."
That match also was a bellwether for Huntingdon coach John Mykut, whose team came into the season after losing 14 to graduation, including eight starters.
"There were a couple of other ones we were right in to the last one at the end and got stuck," he said. "We try to tell our guys you've got to wrestle for six minutes and you've got to push the issue.
"Bottom line is, we gave up way too many bonus points. We were in some of those matches but we gave up bonus, and you can't do that against a good team."
After that it was a pin for Isaac Underhill at 106 and a 5-0 decision to Timmy Pearce (120) as the Huskies built what proved to be an insurmountable lead when Besch won. Mason Grove added a technical fall at 132 and Joe Knarr added insult to injury by pinning Huntingdon's Owen Peters on the buzzer in the final match at 145.
Mifflin County (6-1) finally gets to wrestle at home Thursday when the Huskies host Altoona. That match will begin at 6 p.m., with junior high and varsity running simultaneously on two mats.