Bellefonte and Bald Eagle Area entered the District 6 Class AAA team duals looking to add to their trophy cases on Saturday.
Central Mountain and Altoona stood in their way.
In the end, the Wildcats took care of Centre County’s top two teams en route to their seventh district crown — one behind BEA’s record eight titles. Central Mountain dispatched the Eagles 45-14 and had to work for a 33-24 win over the Red Raiders.
In the championship match, the Wildcats won eight of the 14 bouts, including half with bonus points.
Bellefonte coach Mike Maney knew that’s what it was going to come down to.
“Those were things we were stressing in practice,” he said. “Certainly against a team like Central Mountain you can’t give up falls. We gave them up and ultimately that was the difference in a close match.”
Those falls came at the most inopportune times for the Red Raiders.
Thanks to a 16-0 technical fall from Brock Port, who bumped up to 152 pounds, and a 5-1 Chase Gardner decision, Bellefonte claimed its only lead of the dual at 12-11.
Central Mountain reclaimed a 14-12 lead thanks to an 8-2 Tanner Weaver win over Lukas McClure at 170 pounds. Caleb Turner then turned Mason Cooper to his back in 51 seconds for the fall and the Wildcats went out 20-12.
The Red Raiders responded on a 3-0 Brien McChesney decision to pull within five. However, Central Mountain’s Mahlik Houtz picked up a pin of Sean Irvin at 220 pounds in 2:46. The lead was 29-15 in favor of the Wildcats after a decision at 285 pounds.
Bellefonte again battled back.
Alex Coppolo earned a 4-2 sudden death victory and Cole Stewart tacked on a pin in 2:25 to pull the Red Raiders within 29-24 with one match to go.
Central Mountain had defending District 6 Class AAA 106-pound champion Gio Barzona ready to go at 120 pounds. The champ used four takedowns in an 11-2 major decision win to close out the dual.
“They got off to a good start,” Maney said of Central Mountain. “We were able to go back and forth for a little bit. They went on a streak in the middle to upper weights and won some close matches there. We lost some close ones we needed to win.”
Bellefonte came in as the No. 2 seed and put in some hard work in the semifinals to reach the title tilt. The Red Raiders had to rally twice to top No. 3 Altoona 36-25.
Bellefonte battled back from a 13-point deficit at the start of the match. It got four straight wins from Cameron Coppolo (11-4 decision), Port (1:09 fall), Gardner (3:21 fall) and McClure (7-2 decision) to lead 18-13.
The Mountain Lions went ahead 25-18 after two decisions and a fall.
The Red Raiders closed out the dual with four consecutive wins. Irvin and Max Mondy battled for 1-0 decisions, and Alex Coppolo and Stewart pinned out for the win.
BEA, meanwhile, didn’t fare as well in its semifinal match with Central Mountain.
The Eagles won just three bouts in the loss.
BEA coach Ron Guenot had mixed reactions.
“You’re never happy about a loss,” he said. “Different places, I was pleased with the effort. We closed the gap in some of the rematches we had. They won a couple matches that we won last time. Overall, I thought we had a pretty good effort.”
The Wildcats took a 12-0 lead after a technical fall, major decision and decision.
Garrett Rigg and Seth Koleno swung momentum into the Eagles’ favor with back-to-back wins, pulling them within 12-11.
“It’s a good feeling,” Guenot said of having Rigg and Koleno follow one another, “because you know you’re always going to get 100 percent from those two. You know they are going to give you their all no matter who they wrestle. They’ve been leaders all year.”
Rigg used a takedown at the buzzer of the first period hold up through two periods. In the third period, he hit a reversal and picked up some near fall points before pinning Logan Long in 4:27.
Koleno dominated his opponent, Alonzo Henry. Three takedowns in the first period gave Koleno a 6-2 lead. In the second period, Koleno rattled off 10 points on a reversal, takedown and two sets of three near-fall points and led 16-3. In the final frame, Koleno was attempting to get a pint to put the Eagles ahead but was awarded a takedown and the match was halted at 19-3.
Central Mountain rattled off six straight wins before BEA got its final one of the dual.
Garrett Giedroc got a takedown in the second period, but gave up two escapes to Johnny Shreffler, sending the pair into the third tied 2-2. Shreffler helped Giedroc out by giving him a penalty point on an interlock call. Giedroc escaped and was later called for two stalls and held on for a 4-3 win.
The Eagles’ dual meet season came to an end. They now shift their focuse on the District 6 Class AAA individual tournament on Feb. 25.
Bellefonte still has a few matches. The Red Raiders face State College on Tuesday. They are supposed to be making up their postponed dual with Central Mountain on Feb. 17 before turning to the individual tournament.