For the young and inexperienced Bald Eagle Area wrestling team, the 2013 Top Hat Tournament was a learning experience with a few bumps and bruises along the way.
After advancing seven wrestlers into Saturday’s quarterfinal round, the Eagles ran into a few of those bumps as they went 2-for-7 in terms of semifinal qualifiers.
Advancing to the semifinals were Clint McCaslin (138) and David Gawryla (195).
McCaslin decked Cody Stern in 1:00 for his trip to the final four, while Gawryla was equally impressive in his bout as he won a 19-2 technical fall over Joe Schriner of Montoursville in 3:27.
In the semis, McCaslin dropped a 5-3 decision to Keith Batkowski of Montoursville, while Gawryla was defeated 7-2 by Logan Bowman of South Western. As a result, the Eagles were without a finalist for the first time in recent memory.
Coming up short in their second action of the tournament were Mike Kachik (113), Cobey Bainey (120), Ryan Guenot (145), Chase Myers (182) and Josh Fye (285).
Kachik lost a tough 3-2 overtime rideout to Gavin Smith of South Western, Bainey was the victim of a fall at the hands of Damian Huff of Hollidaysburg, Guenot lost 13-4 to Clint Wright of South Western, Meyers lasted just 17 seconds in his bout with Matt Herr of Hughesville and Fye gave up a late reversal to Bryce Hanley of Central Mountain in a 3-2 loss.
Despite the rough going in the first few rounds of the second day of the tournament, the Eagles managed to battle back to place six wrestlers.
Kachik finished fifth, Bainey took sixth, McCaslin wound up fifth, Guenot took seventh, Gawryla finished sixth after becoming injured and Fye also claimed a seventh-place finish in his first crack at the tourney.
We took some losses that we didn’t expect going into some of the matches, but that stuff happens,” said BEA head coach Steve Millward. “If those things are supposed to happen it is better they happen this week and not later on in our season. I think our kids learned a little bit here to start the year out and we definitely saw some places where we need to work on.”
However, despite the rocks in the road, Millward and his assistants also saw some bright spots.
“We had some kids who wrestled pretty well,” he said. “A lot of them are doing the right things, but we just have to start putting more things together to keep it moving for six minutes.”
After nearly winning the team title a couple of years ago, the Eagles fell back into the team standings last year. Millward was hoping that his squad could improve on that situation, but in the end, it just didn’t happen.
“Coming in here I thought we could do a little better than we did,” he said. “We have a good group, but they are young. We have quite a few ninth graders and tenth graders on the team and one of the bright spots is that those young kids came down here and got after it. That is what we expected them to do and they did that. Unfortunately, they found themselves in some situations where they didn’t score enough points and we are hoping that having experienced that situation they will learn from it and improve. If that happens, maybe things will improve before our next tournament.”