Bald Eagle Area coach Steve Millward liked what he saw from his troops in the first day of the first-ever Tom Bell Memorial Wrestling Tournament as his troops kept all 13 wrestlers alive for a possible medal.
As things unfolded on Saturday, Millward saw more things he could smile about as his Eagles finished in eighth place in the team race, placing seven wrestlers in the top eight of their respective weight class.
“It went pretty well for us in the place rounds,” Millward said. “We definitely saw some good wrestling out of our guys. The guys who lost a match along the way just ran into some tough kids and came up short. We ran into some tough kids at every weight, some we beat and some we didn’t. We’ll just go back to our wrestling room next week, work on technique and we saw some things that we need to work on like positioning because we let some points out there on the mat that we should be getting.”
As it was on Friday, most of the things that Millward and his assistants saw were things that can be fixed.
“I think some of it is just lack of experience when they are wrestling that we (the coaches) see,” Millward said. “We see situations where they can score, but instead they sometimes let guys off the hook so to speak. A kid decides to take a break and we let him do it. When that happens, we have to score in those situations.”
After a long day of wrestling in the first day of the tournament, the Eagles had two wrestlers alive in the championship bracket heading into day two of the tournament.
In the semifinals, BEA went 1-for-2 as Josh Fye punched his ticket to the finals with a 5-2 win over Nick Roberts of Muncy, while Seth Koleno fell 9-6 to Roshaun Cooley of Williamsport.
In the championship final bout, Fye brought home a gold medal as he made a first-period takedown stand up for a 2-1 decision over Jared Schell of Red Lion in a physical battle.
“He has the ability to get physical with guys and tonight he did,” said Millward about his champion. “I think from last year to this year one of the differences we see in him is that he is being more assertive about going out and doing what he wants to do instead of waiting to see what happens and then react. For somebody as big as he is, he needs to use that (size) to his advantage.”
Advancing to the medal round for the Eagles by wrestling back through the consolation brackets were Garrett Rigg (120), Koleno, Cobey Bainey (132), Clint McCaslin (145), Colton Comly (160) and Mitch Taylor (195).
In place bouts, Bainey and Comly both finished eighth, Bainey dropping a 15-5 major decision to Blake Carl of Line Mountain while Comly was pinned by Phillip Gish of Elizabethtown in 2:27.
Taylor battled back from a quarterfinal loss, only to have to default down to sixth when he “tweaked” a previous injury.
In the battles for third, Koleno and McCaslin were both superb as they came up with victories to nail down a bronze medal at their weight class. Koleno, only a freshman, doubled on Line Mountain’s Brian Earlston for a 12-6 win while McCaslin outlasted Red Lion’s Tom Sterner for a 3-2 decision.
“He (Koleno) has pretty quick hips and he just keeps moving, he and (Garrett) Rigg both,” Millward said. “They are two young kids who wrestle pretty consistently when they are out there. It is not always about scoring a point, but maybe just bettering your position to open something up that might be there a few seconds later. As for McCaslin, he had a better tournament today than he did yesterday. For Clint to take third here is big and I am proud of him for his performance.”
After going back to the drawing board to correct a few things, it is business as usual for the Eagles during the next few weeks.
“We have a couple of dual meets before Christmas break,” Millward said. “We want to go back to our room, fix what we can and maybe get our kids in a little better condition during the next couple of weeks so that we can control the pace of a match just a little bit better.”
In the battle for the team title, Central Mountain ran away with the trophy as the Wildcats placed 11 of their 14 wrestlers to amass 229 team points.