The Bald Eagle Area wrestling team could only watch as the Mifflin County celebration started at the end of the 132-pound bout at the District 6 Class 3A Team Dual Championships on Saturday.
The Huskies wrestlers turned to face their fans, who rose to their feet in the bleachers at Tyrone High School. They waved their arms, and cheers filled the gymnasium. Mifflin County forfeited the final three matches to complete its 36-33 win, setting off the start of the awards ceremony.
The Eagles had envisioned bringing gold medals back to Wingate to cap a memorable season that re-established the program as one of the area’s best.
“Bald Eagle wrestling is back,” BEA’s Dylan Bisel said. “We’re out to win a District 6 championship next year. This finals was just a taste of it.”
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The top-seeded Eagles were looking to win their first district team title since 2006 and to remain unbeaten, when they took on the Huskies on Saturday. They improved their record to 14-0 with a 49-22 win over Bellefonte in the semifinals before falling short in the championship match. The third-seeded Huskies beat No. 2 Central Mountain in their semifinal on criteria after the teams finished their match tied 35-35.
Bald Eagle Area fell behind early against Mifflin County and couldn’t recover. The Huskies won three of the first six bouts by fall to build a 24-6 lead. They clinched the victory after BEA’s Lucas Holderman earned a 7-2 decision at 132 — so, with three bouts left, the Eagles couldn’t close the gap.
The Huskies celebrated, while the Eagles headed back to the locker room.
“It stings,” BEA coach Ron Guenot said. “There’s no doubt about it. There’s not much you can say other than it’s going to hurt for a little bit, but we’re going to have to get back at it on Tuesday when we wrestle State College and then rebound and prepare for districts.”
Despite the disappointing loss Saturday, the Eagles enjoyed a memorable season. Bisel said the Eagles showed they were back among the area’s best when they beat Central Mountain during the regular season. The crowd went crazy in the packed gym that night as BEA made a statement. The wrestlers then gathered around their phones at practice the next day to watch the match’s biggest moments on YouTube.
It was one of the highlights for the Eagles, who rolled into the district championships Saturday with a 13-0 record. They pushed each other at practices and conditioned with sprints through the school hallways this season with hopes of winning a district championship. And they dominated against Bellefonte in the semifinals to earn that opportunity.
After Mifflin County opened the match with a win by fall at 160, BEA’s Richard Taylor stepped onto the mat to face Anthony Fultz. Taylor edged Fultz 6-5 in the final seconds, bringing Guenot to his feet and eliciting a roar from the Eagles fans.
“It was exhilarating,” Taylor said.
But the Huskies controlled the match the rest of the way and sealed the win with three bouts left.
“You got to get the bonus points and you got to win the close matches to win a dual meet like that, and we didn’t do that today,” Guenot added.
Still, Guenot said, the loss doesn’t take away from what the Eagles accomplished and proved this season. The coach is going to continue to set high expectations, and BEA is going to continue to chase district championships.
Bisel is already determined to return with his teammates for another shot at the title.
“It was upsetting,” Bisel said. “I know every person on the team works hard in the wrestling room and we’re brothers, and we wanted to win it all, but we just came up a little bit short. We’ll get it next year.”
Bellefonte falls to BEA in semifinals
For his team to have a chance to upset top-seeded Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte coach Mike Maney knew the Red Raiders would need “some extra things to happen.”
But Bellefonte fell behind early and suffered a 49-22 loss to BEA in the semifinals of the District 6 Class 3A Team Dual Championships on Saturday at Tyrone High School.
“Really at this point, nothing else matters,” Maney said. “Once you get to the playoffs, those records are 0-0, so you just hope to be at your best.”
But Bellefonte wasn’t full strength.
Without 120-pound wrestler Alex Coppolo and heavyweight Dan Orndorf, the Red Raiders needed to make adjustments to their lineup. It only added to the challenge against the Eagles.
“To try to get a better matchup, we had to forfeit at 106, which normally we don’t do,” Maney said. “Normally, we have a full lineup.”
After the loss Saturday, Maney and his team will now regroup and shift their focus to the individual postseason.
“Those guys have to practice with each other, work to get each other better because right now, you don’t know who the 14 starters are going to be for the individual postseason,” Maney said. “There’ll be some lineup changes and some wrestle-offs and things, so right now it’s kind of a fresh slate.”