When Ron Guenot took over as head coach of Bald Eagle Area wrestling last year, his goal was to return the Eagles back to the old days — wrestling in front of a packed gym and competing against the best in the area.
With a palpable electricity Friday night, and bleachers bursting at the seams, it sure seemed as if his goal came to fruition in the Eagles’ 39-33 win over Central Mountain.
“It was the most fun I’ve had in a very long time,” BEA wrestler Dylan Bisel said of the win. “It is the best feeling in the world. It makes me want to go to practice the next day, work hard and get things done.”
Bisel played a key role in helping the Eagles pull off the upset.
The junior, who normally wrestles 182, was bumped up a weight class and faced the daunting task of stealing away the Wildcats’ momentum.
Central Mountain (2-1) picked up two pins in 1 minute, 31 seconds of wrestling action to tie the match at 21-21. Bisel gave up nearly 14 pounds to his opponent Tanner Riggle.
“He said, ‘Go out there and work, we need big points,’” Bisel said of Guenot’s message before hitting the mat. “He told me to push the pace and get him tired out.”
Bisel heeded his coach’s advice, scoring five points in the first period thanks to an escape, takedown and two near-fall points. In the second period, Bisel kept his entire body weight on top of the heavier Riggle for a full ride out.
In the final period, Bisel kept pushing the pace, racking up six more points and getting the 11-4 win. It gave the Eagles a 24-21 lead — one they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We have a lot of faith in Dylan,” Guenot said. “His motor never stops. He’s always going all the time.”
Bisel’s teammate, David Close, fed off of his win at 220.
Close was tied with Central Mountain’s Mahlik Houtz 2-2 when the pair were stuck in an upper-body struggle. Houtz looked to throw Close to the mat, but Close caught him for a counter takedown. He stuck Houtz in 3:27 — as fans in blue and gold rose from their seats and screamed in joy — as the Eagles led 30-21 with four matches to go.
“That was a huge win,” Guenot said. “We always say to the kids that somebody needs to step up to the plate and beat someone they are not supposed to. That’s what he did tonight. It made me feel a lot more comfortable where we were at.”
The Wildcats attempted the comeback as Jacob Edwards pinned Kurt Hall at 285 in 2:43. However, a pin from BEA’s Cooper Gilham at 106 and a hard-fought 6-4 win for Garrett Giedroc at 113 sealed the deal for the Eagles.
But it wasn’t just the strong end that fueled BEA to the win. The Eagles also started strong by taking four of the first five matches.
Lucas Holderman began things at 126 with a pin in 1:08. Following a Central Mountain fall, Seth Koleno responded with a pin of his own in 1:39 at 138 pounds.
Garrett Rigg, who had his left wrist taped up, gutted out a 6-4 decision over Logan Long at 145. Gage McClenahan needed all three periods to pick up his pin of Alonzo Henry in 4:33.
“It’s a huge win,” Guenot said. “I told the kids before we broke here, ‘We can’t be satisfied. We got to keep getting better everyday in the room.’ That is our goal, get better every day and not be satisfied where we are at.”
Even though his team didn’t win, Central Mountain coach Biff Walizer knows that Friday’s dual had a lot of meaning. Not only could it lead to something more for BEA’s season, but it will leave a lasting impression on him.
“I haven’t been involved with a high school dual meet in this atmosphere in a while,” Walizer said. “It was neat to have something this close to home and (to) have that rivalry regenerated. It was good for the area and wrestling here. Obviously, we would’ve like to come out on the winning end of it, but this will be a match we remember for a long time.”