— On this night at least, the State College wrestling team followed its coaches’ instructions to a T.
The Little Lions racked up seven pins, and won nine of 14 bouts in a 51-22 rout of Altoona on Wednesday night at the State College North Building Gymnasium.
State College scored falls in the first two bouts and never looked back.
“They did a pretty good job tonight. They wrestled tough, took advantage of things when they came up. We got some pins I didn’t expect and they fought off their backs when they got there. I thought they did a great job overall,” State College coach Ryan Cummins said.
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“The coaches all told them before they went out, ‘If you get a guy on his back, keep him there.’ Conversely, if you’re on your back, get the heck off. They did a great job. I don’t think it was anything we did. They were just excited and did well.”
That was exactly what was needed against the Mountain Lions. In fact, according to Altoona coach Joel Gilbert, State College found his team’s Achilles’ heel.
“State had a better team than we did tonight. They proved it on the mat. I thought a few of our kids went out and wrestled hard, but their kids did, too. It was a hard-fought battle. It didn’t go our way,” he said.
“They put us (on our backs). That’s been a problem of ours all season so far this year. We’re working on it. We need to work on getting a little tougher in those positions.”
That was apparent from the start.
The meet started at 120 pounds and Daniel Sills (3:13) and Anthony Myers (1:39) put the Little Lions in front 12-0.
Altoona got a come-from-behind 13-11 decision at 132 to cut into the lead, but State College answered with two more falls.
Mike Kauffman scored one in 3:04 at 138 and Dalton Barger needed 30 seconds more, decking his opponent in 3:34 at 145.
Facing a 24-3 hole, the Mountain Lions won two of the next three to try to mount a comeback. Altoona sandwiched a technical fall and pin around a 6-4 decision from Little Lion Derek Horner to cut State College’s lead to 27-14.
The Little Lions put together consecutive pins, three in a row this time, for the third time to open up some breathing room.
Alex Stover needed just 56 seconds to pin his man at 182 pounds. Benjamin Roeshot, trailing 5-3 decked his man in 3:51 at 195. And Sheldon Davis used 2:51 for his fall. And, at 285, Jack Vandervort won by injury default in 2:31 to extend State’s lead to 51-14.
Altoona got a technical fall and decision to finish out the match, but it was too little, too late.
With about five weeks until the District 6 Class AAA tournament (Feb. 22 at the Altoona Field House), Cummins said he likes the progress his team has made.
“I think we’re where we want to be right now at this point in the season. They’ve been doing a great job,” he said.
“They’ve been working hard. It seems like every week we get a little bit better and if that carries through to districts, I think we’ll be in business.”