Saturday marked the first time Brad Pataky was in the coaching corner for the Philipsburg-Osceola wrestling team.
“It felt awesome. It was fun,” Pataky said of his high school coaching debut. “It was exciting to watch the guys do what they love to do, which is just compete.”
The Mounties hosted New Oxford, Marion Center, Central Dauphin East, Glendale, Curwensville, Somerset and Punxsutawney in their season-opening JJ Powell Mountaineer tournament.
P-O finished second in the team race with 178.5 points. New Oxford won with 197 points and Marion Center’s 168.5 points rounded out the top three.
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Pataky’s squad didn’t win the tournament, but that wasn’t their focus.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming in,” Pataky said. “We are working to try to improve and that’s the biggest thing. Winning this tournament wasn’t our main goal. Our main goal is March (state championships) and preparing for March.”
The Mounties crowned three champions in Matt Johnson, Levi Hughes and Brad Dunkle. They also had two finalists in Ian Klinger and Micah Sidorick, and seven wrestlers finish in the top three of their weight classes.
“Each one of them wrestled hard from the first whistle to the last whistle,” Pataky said. “That’s the only thing that we are focused on. Making sure that they are giving their best effort every single day, whether its in the wrestling room or in competition. With effort, you’re going to score points and when you score points, you win.”
Johnson had a big day as he used two technical falls en route to the 132-pound crown. In the finals, he topped Central Dauphin East’s Eric Chambers 16-1 in 5:30. He had four takedowns and picked up two sets of three-point near falls in the win. In the semifinals, it only took 3:31 to dispatch Glendale’s Brent Kuhn 16-1.
Dunkle took the pin approach on his way to the 285-pound title, wrestling a total of 4 minutes, 42 seconds. Everyone who won in Dunkle’s weight class actually pinned their opponents. He took care of Central Dauphin East’s Kyle Waters in 2:46 in the semifinals and Punxsutawney’s Alexander Neal in 1:56 in the finals.
Hughes made it to the 152-pound final with a pin of Punxsutawney’s Stone Smith in 3:44 in the semifinals. In the finals, he used a seven-point second period to take care of Glendale’s Isaac Krause 9-3.
Klinger fell 6-2 to Marion Center’s Camren Gett in the 170 final. Sidorick dropped a 2-1 contest to New Oxford’s Damian Rodriguez in the 220 final.
The Mounties got third-place finishes from Landon McDonald (138) and Matt Shimmel (145). Chase Chapman (113) and Josh Hubler (182) added fourth-place finishes.
P-O didn’t have a single wrestler finish below sixth. Noah Clark (120), Noah Twoey (126) and Brandon Anderson (195) each took fifth. Tristan Beauseigneur (160) placed sixth.
The early success is not something Pataky looked for in his team, instead interested in his team competing.
“The things we’ve been focusing on in the room, I saw a lot of that today,” he said. “The guys are buying in and that’s probably my most impressive feeling right now. Its not just a few guys, its everybody.
“I didn’t expect them all to buy in right away with a new system, new coach and new staff. The kids are great. Its fun to be with a great group of kids that enjoy wrestling and having fun.”