St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy coach Pat Flynn ran down a few stats from the District 6 Class 2A tournament with his team prior to Monday’s practice.
He told his wrestlers that he felt they let the semifinals define them rather than defining the semifinals with their performances. He meant that instead of wrestling like they had all year long, they got caught up in the moment.
Yes, they went a combined 5-2, but they had eight cautions called against them.
However, most Wolves’ wrestlers are underclassmen. Can you blame them?
Amonn Ohl, Zach Witmer and Malachi DuVall are all freshmen starters for the Wolves. They are making their first appearances in the Southwest Regional tournament, which gets underway Friday afternoon at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.
“Well, we actually have four freshmen,” Flynn quickly corrected when asked about his freshmen. “Lane (Aikey) is a big part of the team. He’s been pushing Ethan (Kauffman) all year long. I always speak highly of Lane.”
Ohl, Witmer and DuVall are part of a 12-man Centre County contigent made up of teammates Kauffman, Jacob Powers, Caleb Dowling and Evan Courts along with Penns Valley’s Baylor Shunk, Clayton Royer, Abraham Allebach and Carter Felker. Each of them will be looking to get in the top-6 to punch their tickets to the PIAA Championships.
“I just want to go in there and wrestle my best match,” DuVall said. “Maybe, try to change up what I’m going to do depending on the kid. I just want to wrestle smart.”
The St. Joseph’s young “pack,” as DuVall would say, have been making names for themselves all year long. DuVall and Ohl added to their accomplishments with District 6 titles last weekend in Altoona.
Ohl, like he has done all year long, pinned his way to the 106-pound title, beating Shunk in the finals. Ohl now has 31 pins on the year.
“Ammon Ohl is a little terminator,” Flynn said. “He’s the smallest guy in the room, but picks on the biggest guys. He has no fear. He’s got a sparkle in his eye, and I think he is ready to go. I’m really looking forward to this weekend for him.”
DuVall went into the district tournament as the fourth seed at 126 pounds, which meant he had to top the No. 1 guy in his weight to make the finals. Well, sure enough he did that with a 3-2 win over Moshannon Valley’s Alex Richner before earning the title with a pin.
The win over Richner was one that Flynn feels was a defining victory for DuVall’s young high school career.
“Malachi is free spirited. When he is focused, he is a handful,” Flynn said. “He’s got some crazy moves. He’s gifted. He’s had a couple tough losses and some pretty good wins. He’s been awful close to beating some West Virginia state champs. He’s got some physical talents. I think he can do some damage because he is real dangerous.”
To Witmer, who has a history of winning titles, this weekend’s tournament is all about rebounding.
The top seed at 120 pounds of the district tournament suffered a 5-4 setback to Forest Hills’ Byron Daubert in the semifinals. He reached the consolation finals and won, but he seemed to be a little distracted by what was going on in the championship match on the mat beside him.
“I’m just trying to recover from last week, get revenge,” Witmer said, “and prove I’m one of the best in the state. I definitely want to get back out on the mat and redeem myself.”
Southwest Regional Class 2A Tournament
When: Doors open 45 minutes before sessions begin; Friday, 2 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.
Where: Kovalchick Convention & Athletic Complex, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana
Tickets: Friday night and Saturday morning session — Adults $6; Students $3; Saturday evening — Adults $8; Students $4; All day Saturday pass — Adults $14; Students $7; All session pass — Adults $20; Students $10.
Online: Up to date brackets, Flowrestling.com; Livestream: Cementjob.com