LEWISTOWN - Forget about the guys who are supposed to win, the wrestlers you know are going to produce for Mifflin County night after night.
In a non-league tilt against Shikellamy Tuesday, it was a trio of newcomers who drove the Huskies toward a 48-15 victory.
With Kyle Kahley dropping to 220 pounds - and Tre Carter sliding into the 195 weight class - fresh-faced heavyweight Caleb Rhodes made his debut for Mifflin County, and he made it special. The draw put him on the mat first, but his time there didn't last - it took just 30 seconds to fry Shikellamy's Jeremy Bacon under the hot lights of the Husky gym, the first of six falls that would turn in favor of the home team.
Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
Mifflin County’s Joe Knarr, top, locked up Shikellamy’s Joseph Snyder and pinned him in the first minute of their 152-pound bout Tuesday in Lewistown, clinching the team win for the Huskies.
"They way he did it, too, as a heavyweight - shooting in and going right to a dump then right into a pancake was impressive," Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin said. "That was quite a series of moves for a heavyweight. It set the tone."
Another newcomer, McKenon Todaro at 170, picked up the bonus points when he flattened the Braves' Darryl Englehart. In between, Timmy Pearce - taking the place of Kevin Bair at 138 - stayed ahead for a 7-2 decision after a scoreless first period and a brief lead by the Braves' Nick Cashdollar in the second.
"It's just valuable to have guys that are as good as Timmy to be able to step in, fill in that role and do a great job of getting points for the team - that's what's important," Martin said. "If you're going to have a team that gets a lot of wins you've got to have depth and you've got to have kids that are ready to step up at any time."
IF YOU GO
Mifflin County travels to Harrisburg on Thursday.
And, he said, Pearce never stopped pursuing points, a quality that the coach expects in every match.
"I like to see our kids keep scoring all the way through the match, and he definitely did a good job scoring, especially late in the match," Martin said. "It was close, but he opened it up, and that's huge."
Those three by themselves match Shikellamy's total score for the night, a valuable contribution for a team that has lost just one dual meet in eight outings, was coming off one of the more difficult tournament fields it would see and has a Commonwealth Division meet - on the road - yet to come this week.
"It was their opportunity to finally be in the lineup and they all really, really shined tonight. I'm really proud of them. We needed a little bit of a spark from some of the guys on the team," Martin said. "We've had a long stretch of competitions. I don't think we were at our best tonight. For those guys, it was a chance to be a starter and they really stepped up."
Mifflin County won eight of the first nine bouts, cementing the dual meet win in the ninth, when Joe Knarr turned Joseph Snyder less than a minute into the 152-pound match, picking up six that put the team score out of reach for the visitors.
Heath Hidlay (113), Isaac Underhill (120) and Noah Stewart (126) pinned three straight opponents before Lucas Besch took the mat against arguably the best wrestler in the Shikellamy lineup, Tristen Paul. Martin was pleased that the two met, rather than Shikellamy pushing Paul to 145 for a more likely win.
"I'm excited that he is continuing to get good kids," Martin said of Besch. "Iron sharpens iron and he was tested tonight."
Paul took a 2-0 lead from a first-period takedown, then surrendered it when Besch earned an escape and got a takedown in the second. But, starting on defense, Paul reversed the Mifflin County grappler in the third to move back ahead. Besch tied it on an escape, but Paul was awarded a takedown as the two rolled off the mat late in the match - a two-point edge.
Besch not only got that back with a reversal, but tilted Paul for two more to win it.
"He showed perseverance - that was a match he had to wrestle three whole periods to gain the victory," Martin said. "It was awesome."
A decision to Brandon Wilson (145) preceded Knarr's pin; Todaro' fall came two matches after that.
Kahley turned out to have the most excitement of the night, even in a bout that meant nothing to the team score - he traded escapes with Daniel Karpinski through two periods, then again in the tiebreaker round. The match went the distance, with Kahley escaping three seconds into the ultimate tiebreaker to win it.
The Huskies (7-1) travel to Harrisburg Thursday.