MILL HALL - Going into Saturday's quarterfinal round of the 2012 King of the Mountain wrestling tournament, the Juniata and Mifflin counties contingent had seven wrestlers still alive for a possible gold medal.
Coming out of the tournament, the area teams boasted three placewinners, although none of them reached the top rung of the medal stand.
Leading the way into Saturday's action was Mifflin County as the Huskies qualified five wrestlers for the quarterfinals and also had one competitor in the wrestle backs. Unfortunately for MC, four of the five quarterfinalists would come up short in their efforts to reach the semis.
Sentinel photo by NATE?WILSON
Juniata’s Sean Heggs, right, tries to push off Jake Shaffer of Greater Latrobe in the consolation final for third at the King of the Mountain tournament in Mill Hall Saturday. Shaffer got the best of Heggs, who finished fourth.
Daulton Wilson (106) dropped a 15-0 technical fall in 2:35 to Jon Gabriel of Bedford, Isaac Underhill (120) was pinned by defending state champion Darian Cruz of Bethlehem Catholic in 1:28, Noah Stewart (126) lost by fall to Will Koll of Lansing in 48 seconds and Lucas Besch came out on the short end of an 11-4 decision to Nick Gibson of Erie McDowell.
Of the four, only Underhill was able to come back and earn a place in the meat-grinder tournament when he battled back to finish seventh with a 7-1 decision over Steve Friedman of Phillipsburg (NJ).
"I felt that I did pretty good," Underhill said. "I lost a close match to wrestle for fifth and sixth, but I was able to come back and take seventh."
As for what his tournament experience will do for him for the rest of the season, Underhill's answer was brief and to the point.
"This will definitely build my confidence going into the season," he said. "I have a real good practice partner this year (Hidlay) and that will really help both of us later on into the season."
While his four teammates came up short of staying in the championship bracket, Mifflin County's outstanding freshman Hayden Hidlay earned his trip to the title bout when he doubled up on Korbin Myers of Boiling Springs, 6-3.
In the finals, Hidlay faced another defending state champion, Ethan Lizak of Parkland. Hidlay went up 2-0 with the initial takedown in the bout, but Lizak eventually tied the bout at 3-3 and eventually won the match by the 4-3 final in overtime.
"I knew that I could compete with him and I was just going to do my best," said the confident Mifflin County freshman. "The mentality I had when I went out there was that I was going to win it. I didn't even think about coming close. I wanted to win it, but I just came up a little short."
As for Hidlay taking the state champion down to begin the bout, he said, "I surprised him a little bit and I heard the crowd going nuts after I got the two. I was pretty close to getting another takedown in the second and third periods, but I couldn't finish it. I just have to work hard to get better on the bottom because that is where my problem was in the match."
In addition to the five quarterfinalists for the Huskies, a sixth member of the squad, Joe Knarr, stayed alive in Friday's consolations. Unfortunately for Knarr, he dropped a 5-1 decision to Stroudsburg's Jake Jacobsen in his first bout Saturday to finish out of the money.
The Juniata Indians competed with a pair of quarterfinalists, but neither was able to reach the finals.
Sean Heggs carried the banner into the semifinals with an 8-4 win over Jake Shaffer of Greater Latrobe, but Heggs came up one win short of reaching the finals with a 7-2 loss to Patrick Duggan of Cumberland Valley.
Dropping back into the consolation bracket, Heggs defeated Max Elling 6-5 in his first consy bout before dropping a 5-2 decision to Jake Shaffer of Greater Latrobe to go 1-1 in the wrestlebacks and finish fourth, his team's only medalist in the tournament.
"I am happy with the way things turned out because in the match before this one I hurt some cartilage under my right pec," Heggs said. I lost to the kid I had just beat (earlier in the quarterfinals), but other than that, I am pretty happy with the way things turned out for me. Some people say that this might be tougher than the state tourney because of all the state champs and placewinners that are here. I'll be all right."
Heggs is hoping that once he is healed that the experience he realized by competing in the King of the Mountain tournament will help him down the road.
"This if the first time I wrestled in this tournament because we (East Juniata) combined with Juniata," Heggs said. "We never competed in the big tournaments like this one so it should help me get ready for the season. Right now I am not sure what it means, but I took fourth in states last year and took fourth here.
"One thing is for sure and that is in this tournament, there are tough kids all over the place so hopefully this will be a good stepping stone for me."
Heggs' teammate Richie Gilson (120) dropped his championship quarterfinal bout by a 5-1 score to North Hunterdon's Ryan Pomrinca and later fell out of the competition with a 10-4 loss to Steve Friedman of Phillipsburg, N.J., in the wrestlebacks.
The third member of the Indian squad to enter Saturday's action was Luke Nanna, but he dropped a 4-1 decision to Bethleham Catholic's Ryan Todora to see his tournament trail end.
In the final team standings, Mifflin County finished tied for 19th with 68 points while Juniata wound up 29th in the field of 33 teams with 44 points.