A weekend trek across the Centre-Clinton County line provided Bellefonte’s two best wrestlers with the tests they needed.
Nick Shawley and Garrett Poorman reached the finals of the difficult King of the Mountain Tournament before succumbing on Saturday night at Central Mountain High School.
Shawley fell to Bethlehem Catholic’s Jose Ortiz 12-7 at 182 pounds. Mifflinburg’s Nazar Mironenko pinned Poorman in a short, yet entertaining, heavyweight final.
Both wrestlers are seniors, so they realize undesirable results often aid the process. They also understand the King of the Mountain isn’t the typical early-season wrestling tournament.
The 33-team tournament brought championship-caliber wrestlers from nine PIAA districts and three states into Central Mountain’s spacious gym. Having a stacked field converge at a neighbors’ home energized the Red Raiders.
“The reason why you come to these tournaments is to get yourself ready for the postseason,” coach Mike Maney said. “I know from our guys there weren’t any easy matches at any weight classes.”
True. But Shawley and Poorman made things look easy until the finals.
Shawley, the No. 1 seed, surrendered just two points in his first three bouts. Ortiz tripled that total in the first 3 minutes, 10 seconds, collecting three takedowns to open a 7-4 lead. Ortiz controlled the bout on his feet, dragging Shawley down five times.
“I learned that I need to defend shots better and get better on my feet mostly,” said Shawley, who finished fourth at last year’s PIAA tournament. “That’s where I lost the match.”
Poorman won the most falls in least amount of time award by pinning his first four opponents in 6:14. His semifinal bout included no drama as he pinned Parkland’s Shaun Heist in 1:49.
The final last just 1:29, but featured a wild sequence where Poorman and Mironenko both engaged in upper-body attacks. Mironenko, the reigning PIAA Class AA heavyweight champion, threw Poorman to his back. Poorman tried squiggling away, but Mironenko used the leveraged he obtained to collect a fall.
“I got sloppy,” Poorman said. “I let my hips get the best of me. I was moving forward, and I let him get deep. We’re both upper-body wrestlers. We’re both going to go for that.”
The bout contrasted last year’s final, a calculated six-minute tussle Mironenko won 4-3. Poorman and Mironenko are friends and train together when their schedules permit. Seeing their second varsity meeting end with a pin proved surprising.
Still, Poorman has no regrets. He used lessons from last year’s KOM loss to place seventh at the PIAA Class AAA tournament.
“I have a lot to work on,” Poorman said. “I realize that now. I haven’t had a lot of competition. I’m glad I got an eye-opener.”
Shawley and Poorman aren’t the only high-level Bellefonte wrestlers who might benefit from this weekend’s experience.
Sophomore Trevor Corl was pinned in 16 seconds during Saturday’s 126-pound quarterfinals by Boyertown’s Eddie Kriczky. But Corl recovered to win two of his next four bouts to place seventh. He ended the tournament with a 5-2 victory over Matt Moncourtois of North Hunterdon (N.J.).
“This morning I came out and I just wasn’t ready,” said Corl, who won a District 6 title as a freshman last year. “But then I got warmed up and came back. I wanted to win that next one to get into that placing round and I wanted to win that last match.”
The three placewinners helped Bellefonte finish 21st in the team standings with 67 points. The Red Raiders earn an automatic invitation to next year’s tournament by cracking the top 24.
Mifflin County led District 6 teams by finishing tied for 19th with 68 points. The Huskies unveiled a rising star, as freshman Hayden Hidlay finished second at 113. Hidlay opened an early lead before falling to Parkland’s Ethan Lizak 4-3 in overtime. Lizak won a PIAA Class AAA title last season. Isaac Underhill (seventh, 120) also placed for the Wildcats.
Central Mountain finished 25th in the team standings with 51.5 points. Senior Blaze Buckwalter (fifth, 195) was the Wildcats’ lone placewinner.
Defending PIAA Class AA champion Bethlehem Catholic used two champions and seven other placewinners to capture the team title with 177.5 points. Parkland edged Cumberland Valley 126-125.5 for second place.
Will Koll of Lansing, N.Y., defeated Bedford’s Ryan Easter 7-4 in the 126-pound. Koll is the son of former State College great, Rob Koll, and grandson of former Penn State coach, Bill Koll. Will, a 2011 New York state champion, was competing in central Pennsylvania for the first time.
Reynolds’ Austin Matthews pinned Jimmy Schuitema of Phillipsburg, N.J., in the 152-pound final to earn outstanding wrestler honors.
Cumberland Valley’s Patrick Duggan (132) and TC Warner (160), General McLane’s Joe Wheeling (106), Bethlehem Catholic’s Darian Cruz (120), Kittanning’s Jason Nolf (132), Pen Argyl’s Mikey Racciato (145), DuBois’ Tom Sleigh (170), Council Rock South’s P.J. Steinmetz (195) and Boyertown’s Jordan Wood (220) also won titles.