Penns Valley wrestling was able to move one step closer to acheiving its goal of a District 6 team title on Thursday night.
The No. 4 Rams gave up six easy points early with a forfeit, but rolled from there in a 49-21 win over No. 5 Penn Cambria in a Class AA quarterfinal. The Panthers topped Johnstown 52-23 earlier in the evening.
“I knew coming in that Penns Valley could be the best team in the district,” Panthers coach Todd Niebauer said. “Joel Brinker and I go way back. He’s got a nice group of young kids there and runs a great program. Don’t mind losing to guys like Joel.”
The Rams (11-6) earned a total of seven bonus-point wins to just three for the Panthers (8-3). The Rams had three forfeits, three pins and a major decision.
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By keeping Abraham Allebach at 160 pounds, Penns Valley forfeited at 170 and trailed 6-0 to start.
“Every match you stress bonus points,” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said. “You got to get them and you can’t give them up. We debated what we wanted to do at 170. We felt the best matchup for us was just keeping Abraham (Allebach) at (1)60.”
The Rams quickly tied things up on a Hunter Homan pin in 2:49 at 182. After receiving a forfeit at 195, Penns Valley claimed a 12-6 lead it didn’t come close to losing.
Sandwiched between forfeits at 195 and 285, the Rams picked up a hard-fought win from Jared Bressler that kept momentum rolling.
“It means a lot,” Bressler said, “because we normally start at 106 and work our way up through so I’m either the second-to-last guy or the last guy. To keep the momentum moving, it means a lot to everyone else on the team because I realize they keep the momentum going for us in the upper weights on a different night.”
After a scoreless first period between Bressler and Darian Conrad, the pair traded escape points in the second and third periods to force sudden death. They continued to move around the circle looking for that one spot to get the winning takedown.
Bressler worked his way into a takedown with 11 seconds to go for the 3-1 win.
Baylor Shunk kept things rolling at 106 with a pin of Joey Dignan in 3:52. Shunk led 13-1 before sticking Dignan. The teams then traded forfeits at 113 and 120.
There was a potential to have Darren Yearick, the reigning District 6 120-pound champion, take on Chase Proudfit, District 6 runner-up at 106. Niebauer bumped Proudfit to 126 pounds to give his team a shot to win the dual.
Proudfit won against Clayton Royer but he had to work for it. He used a late takedown in the third period to tie the match and with roughly 30 seconds to go he earned two near-fall points for the 4-2 win.
“I had to take a chance there and try to get the other matches above them,” Niebauer said. “ I just knew my best kid there in Proudfit and I thought I could get a couple wins there and only got one. If I would’ve went the other way, I might not have got any.”
Ryan Ripka and Carter Felker went back-to-back with bonus-point wins for Penns Valley. Ripka earned a 17-7 major decision over Bryce Niebauer at 132 and Felker pinned Gavin Link in 4:47 to extend the Rams’ lead to 43-15.
Jared Hurd used an escape at the buzzer in a sudden-death ride-out period to edge Brock Talko at 145. Clayton Upcraft earned Penns Valley’s final win at 152 with a 10-7 win over Joe Smychynsky. Upcraft led 10-3 to open the third and hung on late for the win.
The Rams advance to the semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday at Tyrone. Penns Valley will face Huntingdon, which beat Westmont Hilltop 68-6. The two teams are considered the favorites in the class but won’t get to wrestle each other for the title.
“It is what it is,” Brinker said. “We always push every year to have a true second and this is exactly why we should have a true second. I can’t take anything away from Mo Valley or Central. They are tough teams. We’d like to make state team duals so that goal is still in front of us.”