ALTOONA - Returning to the site where they won their first regional wrestling title in the history of the school, the Mifflin County Huskies were hoping for some good things to happen for them again as the Northwest Class AAA regional tournament got under way Friday at the Altoona Area High School field house.
Qualifying 10 wrestlers for the regional tournament with an outstanding effort in the District 6 tournament the previous week, the Huskies found the road a little tougher through the first two championship rounds of the tournament as four are still alive for an individual regional title.
Advancing to the semifinals for the Huskies were Hayden Hidlay at 113, Lucas Besch at 132, Brandon Wilson at 145 and Joe Knarr at 152.
Sentinel photos by CRAIG UREY
TOP: Mifflin County’s Lucas Besch grapples with Josh Schuckers of Punxsutwney during the first round at the Class AAA Northwest regional Friday in Altoona. Besch won the 132-pound bout 8-2.
LEFT: Mifflin County’s Hayden Hidlay, right, wrestles General McLane’s Hunter Hendricks in a quarterfinal bout at 116 pounds on Friday in Altoona. Hidlay won by technical fall, 19-3.
Hidlay had an easy time getting to the semis with a 16-4 major decision and a 19-3 technical fall, while Besch started with an 8-2 decision and followed that with a 17-2 tech fall.
After getting a bye in the round of 16, Wilson was strong in his quarterfinal bout when he posted an 18-3 tech fall over Tyler Yetzer of St. Marys.
Knarr was pushed to the limit in his opener before registering a 5-3 win over Ryan Dailey of McDowell. In the quarters, Knarr turned it on as he cruised to a 14-2 major decision over Bradford's Joshua Corignani.
"Having four in the semis if exciting for us," Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin said. "You always hope for more, especially with the talent we have in some of these kids, but it is a different level of competition and if you don't have your nerves calmed down in a tight match it makes it tough, not only physically but mentally as well."
Other Huskies who went won their opening bout of the tournament before falling in the quarters were Isaac Underhill at 120, Noah Stewart at 126, and 285-pounder Caleb Rhodes. Kyle Kahley (220) remains in the consolation bracket as well.
Although they fell out of championship contention, Martin was quick to point out that the experience gathered by his young matmen is invaluable.
"The experience they got this year is just huge, especially for our young guys," Martin said. "They have watched it, they have read about it, but until you actually go through it you don't know the nerves are going to be. When the match is on the line, how you react to situations can be the difference between winning and losing."
Wrestling will continue Saturday morning with the second round of consolations beginning at 10 a.m. with the championship semifinals and third round of consolation bouts scheduled to begin at approximately 12:30 p.m.
The top three wrestlers in each weight class qualify for the PIAA Class AAA Championships next weekend at Giant Center in Hershey.