BELLEFONTE — A little more than a week ago, the Altoona and Bellefonte wrestling teams met each other in the Red Raider Brawl with the Raiders coming out on top of a 39-33 final score.
Tuesday night in the quarterfinal round of the District VI Team Duals Tournament, the two squads locked horns again, and this time the result was much the same as the Redmen advanced to the semifinals with a 42-36 win.
In the semifinals, Bellefonte (12-3) will face Mifflin County (14-4). The Huskies, the second-seeded team behind top seed Central Mountain, drew a bye in the quarterfinals.
“I don’t think Bellefonte has ever had a district title and if we get everyone healthy there is no reason why we can’t compete for a district title,” said Bellefonte head coach Mike Maney. “This is the playoffs now and anything can happen. Tonight was the first step and this win made it possible for us to move on to Saturday.”
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While the Raiders are headed for the District VI semifinals Saturday in Tyrone, the Mountain Lions have their sights set on the post-season beginning with the District VI individual tournament.
“Without a doubt, our ultimate goal is the District VI individual tournament,” said Altoona head coach Joel Gilbert. “I think our guys are getting ready to go. They are getting down in weight so we are preparing for that next step. We’ll be ready to go for that tournament.”
Each team won seven weight classes, but a quick look at the score sheet would point out that of Bellefonte’s seven wins, all seven were six-pointers, while on the Altoona side of the ledger, five of the Mountain Lion wins were worth six points with a pair of regular decisions sprinkled in.
“Ever since the Central Mountain match we have been really focusing on getting bonus points,” said Bellefonte head coach Mike Maney. “We know that is what it is going to come down to for our team to be successful. When you look at our lineup from our first meet against State College until now, I don’t think we have actually been able to put our full strength lineup on the mat. We knew that without Garrett (Raider heavyweight Poorman) out with illness, we knew the guys had to step up and they did a good job of doing that.”
As for the two meets with the Raiders, Gilbert felt they paralleled each other.
“That is the way it worked out,” said Gilbert about the Raiders getting bonus points in more weights then his squad did. “They had a guy out of the lineup tonight (Garrett Poorman) and they had one out last week also. We knew we had to stay off our backs and we weren’t’ able to do that. They got more bonus points than we did and that was the difference in the match.”
Although the Mountain Lions came up short in the final score, for the most part their big guns came through with falls. Included in that group are Jake Scheinberg, Austin Rosenberry, T. J. Brandt, D. J. Hollingshead and Mante Barnes.
“Those guys all went and wrestled hard and tough,” said Gilbert. “They took it to their opponents and did all they could do to help out the team.”
The meet started at 195 and that meant that Altoona had the edge in the first two bouts and Jacob Scheinberg and Austin Rosenberry didn’t disappoint their teammates with first-period falls.
However, with those two results turning the lineup over, that meant that some of the Raiders strengths were ready to hit the mats and Luke Leathers, Aaron Witherite, Zach Musser and Nate Rosenberger responded with falls and Trevor Corl was awarded a forfeit for the 30 unanswered points for the Raiders.
“On Saturday against Greenville it was Austin Phillips who got us a big win and tonight it was our lightweights that really came through,” said Maney. “We have had guys out of the lineup for various reasons and usually it is one guy who steps up, but tonight it was the lightweights that went out and got the job done. That area (lightweights) is where we have consistently seen the most improvement. Luke Leathers got it started and Aaron Witherite is doing a nice job. Trevor Corl got a forfeit, Zach Musser is back in the lineup and Nate Rosenberger did a nice job. As it turned out, those were all key pins for us tonight.””
As for the effect the starting point of 195 might have had on his squad, Maney felt it was just a matter of making some adjustments.
“We definitely had to make some moves in the upper weights tonight,” said Maney. “You hate to forfeit any time because any time you can send a guy on the mat you have a chance. You have to give a kid like Tim Benford a lot of credit because he barely weighed the minimum (198 pounds), but he went out and gave a tough kid a pretty good battle. We thought we might have been able to get the 220 match, but again, he is giving up some twenty pounds and when you are giving up that much weight and get put on your back, it is pretty difficult to fight off (your back).”
With the Mountain Lions still within striking distance, Nick Shawley took care of salting the win away for the Raiders at 170 with a fall before Nick McCarthy and Barnes closed out the meet for the Lions.