Penns Valleys schedule offers no time to sulk or celebrate.
The Rams lost to Huntingdon last Tuesday. They visited West Branch two days later. Two days after a 33-31 loss to the Warriors, Moshanon Valley visited Spring Mills.
This week started with Tuesdays trip to the Juniata for the District 6 Class AA first round and quarterfinals. Victories over Penn Cambria and Juniata placed the Rams in the District 6 Class AA team semifinals for the first time since 2003.
Before returning to the team tournament, the Rams traveled to Wingate, where they fell to Class AAA Bald Eagle Area 40-33 on Thursday.
One of the most important matches in program history.
The fifth-seeded Rams (19-4) wrestle top-seeded West Branch (22-2) in Saturdays semifinals at Tyrone. The winner advances to next weeks PIAA Class AA team duals.
Third-seeded Mount Union (21-3) faces second-seeded Huntingdon (12-2) in the other semifinals. Both semifinals begin at 10 a.m. The finals start at noon. The district sends its top two Class AA teams to the state duals.
Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said his team doesnt want to stop at just one victory. The district champion begins the state tournament next Thursday in Hershey. The runner-up meets the District 3 runner-up in Mondays pigtail round.
Its a big task at hand, Brinker said. West Branch isnt going to lay down for us. But its there for the kids. We want to take care of business and win it.
West Branch is ranked ninth in Class AA by Off The Mat. Penns Valley is ranked 19th. Mount Union and Huntingdon are ranked 17th and 18th, respectively. Penns Valley also fell to Huntingdon 34-27 last week. The teams are so evenly-matched that Brinker said Saturdays outcomes could be determined by pre-meet disk flips.
In last weeks meet at West Branch, Penns Valley won five bouts from 145 to 195 pounds. Curtis Decker added another victory at 113 pounds.
Eight bout wins Saturday likely sends Penns Valley into the finals Seven bout wins might be enough to flip last weeks outcome.
The guys know we are right there, Brinker said. We just need to improve on some things to get over that hump to win those close matches. Its going to come down to which team shows up and wants it more. Its exciting and a good opportunity for our kids to wrestle on a big stage.
Mount Union defeated West Branch 43-15 in last years final. The Rams and Warriors wrestled a regular-season meet in 2012, with West Branch earning a 40-27 victory at Spring Mills. Penns Valleys productive off-season, penchant for scoring bonus points and ability to fill all 14 weight classes has closed the gap.
Its a good group and the kids push themselves, Brinker said. That group from 145 up through was really committed in the off-season and took advantage of the area clubs and freestyle programs. They have a confidence about them. Its kind of contagious. Theres a healthy competition with each other. They are always trying to outdo their partner and the guy above or below them.
The work has produced some gaudy records. Mike Rogers (25-1, 182), Corey Hazel (24-1, 160), Cole Confer (23-3, 152), Maverick Swartz (23-3, 195), Seth Decker (22-3, 145) and Curtis Decker (22-5, 113) enter Saturday with more than 20 victories.
West Branch has seven wrestlers with 20 or more victories: Reynold Maines (27-1, 220), Morgan Selepack (25-4, 285), Parker Bumbarger (25-5, 138), John Hayles (23-5, 132), Lucas Kristofits (23-6, 170), Luke Slippey (22-7, 152) and Abe Albright (21-7, 120)
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