ALTOONA - For the Mifflin County wrestling team, it was a matter of the Huskies returning to the same venue where they won the District 6 Class AAA team title one week ago.
Last weekend, the Huskies ran away from the rest of the competition in the semifinal round of the District 6 tournament and in doing so, qualified nine wrestlers for the Northwest Class AAA regional tournament at the Altoona Field House.
Friday night in the first two championship rounds of the regional tournament, the Huskies again flexed their muscles as they qualified five wrestlers for today's semifinal round.
Gaining berths in the championship semifinals were Hayden Hidlay, Noah Stewart, Trey Hartsock, Timmy Pearce and Colton Craig.
Hidlay decked Robert Harris of Central Tech in 2:13 after receiving a first-round bye and Stewart followed Hidlay's effort with a strong outing of his own as he won by a 16-0 technical fall in 5:53.
Hartsock made it three bonus point wins in a row with an 11-3 win over Cory Dreibelbis of State College and Timmy Pearce followed suit to Hartsock when he mauled Zach Rindfuss of McDowell for a 12-2 major of his own.
Craig completed the Mifflin County semifinalists when he doubled up on Luke Shiock of Punxsutawney by a 4-2 final.
"As the tournament gets deeper it becomes tougher and tougher," Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin said. "From here on it is just going to come down to mental toughness if you are going to win the close matches. When you win the close matches it makes you believe that you deserve to advance."
Not as fortunate as their teammates who advanced through the first two championship rounds unscathed were Noah Myers, Isaac Underhill, Brandon Wilson and Kyle Kahley. All four wrestlers are still alive in the wrestlebacks.
The Huskies showed signs of being a force in the tournament when they advanced eight of their nine wrestlers through the first round to the quarterfinals. Then came the quarterfinals round where the Huskies ran into a few potholes in the road by advancing five of the eight to the semis.
"It was a good first round for us and that was a realistic thing when we looked at the pairings," Martin said. "It is very important to get a win early in this tournament just to build their confidence."
At this stage of the season, it becomes even more important as to how the wrestlers are performing and Martin likes where his troops are at this point.
"Overall, I am happy with the way we are wrestling," he said. "You always like to get a couple of upsets where on paper we were picked to lose but wound up winning them. We wrestled well and now we have to continue to do that tomorrow (Saturday)."
With their nine wrestlers still alive, five in the championship semifinals and the other four in the wrestlebacks, the Huskies are currently perched in a tie for third place with Central Mountain and Philipsburg-Osceola with 36 points each.
McDowell holds the early lead with 49 points and a dozen competitors still alive. General McLane is second with 37.5 points.