High school wrestling: Penns Valley moves to 10-0 with win over Clearfield

gciprian@centredaily.comJanuary 9, 2013 

— Pick a person’s last name. Look for some blue-collar sound actions. Or throw a dart at a map and wait until it smacks a wrestling hotbed.

Wrestling moves feature scattered nomenclature.

The one Penns Valley’s Mike Mundt used to notch a fall in Tuesday’s 42-31 victory over Clearfield happens to be named after Oklahoma, a Midwest state that has cultivated some of the sport’s all-time greats.

The Rams aren’t facing any Oklahoma squads this season. But they are converting enough big moves to prove they are capable of competing with anybody in their own region.

By rallying from a 25-0 deficit against a new addition to the schedule, the Rams improved to 10-0 before at a giddy Ram Dome crowd.

Mundt and one of his workout partners were a big reason for the celebration.

Using a move named after a state, Mundt pinned Shane Billings in 3:15. The sequence, which Mundt said he learned in junior high, involved controlling Billings’ left arm. He then powered into the opposite shoulder, clasped his hands and sent Billings to his back.

The Rams trailed 25-24 when Mundt unveiled the move.

“I was pretty nervous,” he said. “I went out there thinking, ‘I have to win, I have to go out there, give it my all and work toward getting that win.’”

Mike Confer, who pushes Mundt in the practice room, harbored similar thoughts when he greeted Curt Mignot. Confer used different means to collect a fall, aggressively pushing Mignot and hitting a body lock. The pin, which took just 37 seconds, handed the Rams a 36-25 lead with two bouts left.

Mundt and Confer are examples of rapidly improving wrestlers contributing to the Rams’ impressive start. Mundt, who has been pinned just once in two varsity seasons, started 2012-13 as a reserve. Maverick Swartz’s drop from 220 to 195 pounds and an injury to Logan Johnson led to Mundt returning to the lineup.

Confer is beginning to regain confidence after suffering a torn ACL last season. His pin Tuesday was his first at home this season, a personal accomplishment he celebrated with a sly fist bump as he looked toward teammates and coaches.

“I knew I needed to win to give us leeway,” he said.

The teams traded pins in the final two bouts. Clearfield’s Logan Gilbert had a 54-second pin at 106 and Penns Valley 113-pounder Curtis Decker leaned back and stuck Josiah McClarren at the edge of the circle in front of the Ram bench.

The teams played to their strengths in the first 10 bouts. Clearfield used pins from Noah Cline (120), Christian Stone (132) and Jonathan Sponseller (138) and a major decision from Dylan Graham (126) to open a 22-0 lead. The 145-pound bout represented a postseason primer, as Clearfield’s Nolan Barger scored six third-period points from the top position to defeat Seth Decker 7-0.

“Good match,” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said. “We don’t know much about Barger because we don’t see them anywhere. Our scouting report was that we knew he was good on top, using legs and the cradle. Decker is tough. He gets out from bottom on a lot of guys. In retrospect, we wish we would have picked neutral in the third.”

Decker is part of a 145- to 195-pound stretch that has scored loads of dual meet points for the Rams this winter. Cole Confer and Corey Hazel sparked Penns Valley with pins at 152 and 160, respectively. Drew Hurd then defeated Josh Kennedy 5-3 at 170 and Mike Rogers handled Jake Verchick 7-3 at 182. Rogers either produced falls or received forfeits in his first 12 bouts. The sophomore had not entered a third period until Tuesday.

“With the match starting at 120, we obviously wanted to build a big lead and hopefully knock off some of their better kids and get in their heads a little bit,” said Clearfield coach Jeff Aveni, whose team dropped to 1-3. “I think we did that. We had our opportunities at times and we didn’t take advantage of them. But I thought my guys scrapped and did what they needed to do. Penns Valley has a nice team.”

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