ALLPORT - Despite coming into Wednesday night's match seeded behind United, the Juniata wrestling team showed little signs of being an underdog, winning 10 of 14 matches to take a 50-24 victory.
But the win was followed by an elimination loss to West Branch, one of the top four seeds that host the early rounds of the District 6 Class AA team duals.
The Indians had six pins and a technical fall during the United match, including three falls in the final four bouts in their first-round match.
"We started off with a good win over United," Juniata coach Mike Robinson said. "The guys wrestled well and came together as a team and put a good win together."
The Indians pulled out to a 29-6 lead after the first seven bouts, thanks to a technical fall from Cole Kellison and six-point wins from Jared Benner, Taylor Foster and Derek Beitz.
Beitz made quick work of Anthony Michaels at 170, taking his opponent down at the start of the match before showing him the lights in 31 seconds. It was Beitz's 100th win, joining his brothers Zack and Seth, who also have accomplished the feat.
"It was awesome. Derek is one of the hardest workers in the room," Robinson said. "He has actually developed these guys into pretty good practice partners. I have to give him all the credit in the world."
Foster scored his pin in 26 seconds at 182, before the Lions reeled off back-to-back pins from 195 to 285.
That pulled United to within 29-24, but it was as close as it would get as Juniata won the final four bouts of the night to take the 50-24 victory.
Tylynn Miller, Cole Walters, Zach Snyder and Richie Gilson all scored victories for the Indians in the upset win.
Juniata came into the duals with a 16-13 record, while the Lions were just 8-3.
"I think it was a factor in regards to the seeding," Robinson said of the large number of dual meets his team has wrestled. "We've wrestled a lot of tough teams. Even though United was seeded seventh, we felt that we were coming here to wrestle and we were going to take care of business."
The victory set up a quarterfinal bout with second-seeded West Branch, who kicked off the night without two of their starters due to injury.
The match started at 138 and the Indians won the flip, forcing the Warriors into a little bit of a jam in the first four bouts.
Juniata won two of those matches by fall, while losing one by fall and another by a close 1-0 decision.
But the Indians kept coming at West Branch, taking a 20-9 lead after the bout at 182, where Foster decisioned Robbie Pearce, 8-2.
The Warriors looked to be in trouble as Ty Treaster took a 2-0 lead early in the bout against Vince McDowell at 195. With a 2-1 lead, Treaster chose bottom after McDowell deferred.
McDowell was able to turn the junior to his back and score a fall in 2:50. That sent the West Branch gymnasium into a frenzy, cutting the lead to 20-15.
Things would get more exciting in the next two bouts for the home team, as both Buzzy Maines and Morgan Selepack recorded falls in eight seconds or less to give the Warriors a 27-20 advantage.
West Branch ended the match with four wins in five bouts, including a battle of freshmen at 120. West Branch's Hunter Parks scored the fall in 1:35.
Nathan Kristofits closed out the match with a 4-2 decision over Kobe Benner to set the final at 48-23.
"We knew that we were going to have our hands full with West Branch," Robinson said. "They are a solid team and the kids on the West Branch team pull their own weight.
"We were in the match. I think we had the ball rolling and we just fell a little short. We gave up some bonus points, and if those bonus points wouldn't have happened, we would be right there. I wish West Branch the best of luck, and we are going to get ready for the postseason."
Juniata finishes its dual meet season at 16-14. The Indians will now prepare for the District 6 Class AA individual tournament, which begins on Feb. 14.