A team filled with talented upperweights relied on its lightweights to nearly upset its wrestling-rich neighbor.
Three victories from 106 to 120 pounds helped Bald Eagle Area put Central Mountain in an uncomfortable situation in Saturday’s District 6 Class AAA semifinals.
But like they have every year since 2007, the Wildcats found a way to the defeat the Eagles.
Chase Andrus’ fall at 126 pounds ended BEA’s run and handed top-seeded Central Mountain a 33-27 semifinal victory.
“I didn’t foresee that being the dual meet that it turned out to be,” BEA coach Steve Millward said.
The title match also included numerous twists, as Mifflin County rallied from a 26-6 deficit to defeat Central Mountain 31-26. The Huskies, a second-year program consisting of former Indian Valley and Lewistown wrestlers, ended the Wildcats’ five-year title reign. Mifflin County defeated Bellefonte 43-18 in the other semifinal.
Central Mountain almost never received a chance to wrestle for a sixth straight title.
BEA’s lightweight trio of Cobey Bainey, Mike Kachik and Travis Giedroc earned decision victories to tie the semifinal match 27-27 entering the final bout. Bainey defeated Ryan Moore 4-1 at 106, Kachik handled Chris Confer 6-2 at 113 and Giedroc outlasted Keanan Bottorf 6-4 at 120.
The finale pitted BEA’s Cody Stine and Chase Andrus, a duo that entered Saturday with seven combined victories. Andrus, who moved up from 120 pounds, pinned Stine with 10 seconds left in the second period.
“I don’t like to see kids in that situation, but I hope they get up for it if they are ever put there,” said Millward, whose team lost to Central Mountain 37-21 in a Big 7 dual last month. “That’s what we do every day in the room, to come out and have matches like that. It gets you ready for postseason tournaments. It’s not often Cody gets pinned in that situation. He went out and did what he could.”
Dropping two of three anticipated upperweight bouts placed the Eagles (10-3) in a precarious situation.
Three weeks after he edged Ben Verbitskey 4-3 in a Big 7 meet, Central Mountain’s Devin Stacey majored the BEA senior 13-2 at 170 pounds. The Wildcats also received a key victory at 220, where Cameron Porter parlayed a reversal with three seconds left into a 9-7 victory over David Gawryla. Aaron Varner registered the Eagles’ biggest upperweight victory, using a second-period escape to edge Blaze Buckwalter 1-0 at 195.
Central Mountain (11-2) earned bonus points in six of its seven victories. Jake Taylor (182) and Nate Sharkey (285) had pins for the Eagles.
Bellefonte’s chances of pulling a semifinal upset quickly faded as second-seeded Mifflin County won five of the first six bouts to open a 21-3 lead. The Huskies received four more bout victories to reach the final for the second straight year.
The lightweight bouts included some competitive sequences, with Bellefonte’s Luke Leathers controlling Daulton Wilson 4-0 at 106 and teammate Trevor Corl defeating Isaac Underhill 4-2 at 120. Mifflin County earned victories at 113 and 126, with Hayden Hidlay pinning Aaron Witherite in 2:50 at 113 and Noah Stewart majoring Nate Rosenberger 10-1 at 120.
Nick Shawley (182) had Bellefonte’s only pin. Dillon Kephart and Garrett Poorman (285) earned decision victories for the Red Raiders.
“I knew they were going to be a solid team,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said. “We needed some things to go our way to pull off the upset. They got some momentum and bonus points early on and we just weren’t able to make up the difference.”
A key early fall and powerful lightweight wrestling helped Mifflin County avenge their 2012 title match loss to Central Mountain.
Mifflin County’s Kevin Bair started the meet by pinning Cole Hanley in 5:44 at 138. The Wildcats won the next seven bouts, but the Huskies yielded just five bonus points before capturing the final six bouts.
Lucas Besch secured the first of what could be multiple district wrestling titles for Mifflin County (16-5) with a 17-0 technical fall over Sam Watkins at 132. The meet was tied 26-26 entering the final bout.
“We were fighting tradition with Central Mountain,” said Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin, whose lineup included just three seniors. “They were very familiar and comfortable being in this position. That’s who we wanted to beat because they have had such a stranglehold on it. It’s awesome for these kids.”
Mifflin County will represent District 6 in this week’s PIAA Class AAA duals. The three-day tournament begins Thursday in Hershey.