Logan Simpson described Bellefonte’s match with Penns Valley on Tuesday night in one word.
Simpson would know. The senior had the final victory of the night to seal the Red Raiders’ 37-30 win over the previously undefeated Rams in front of a packed gym of boisterous fans.
“It was crazy,” Simpson said. “Everybody pinning and getting points back to back for both teams. The crowd was going crazy for every call.”
Simpson’s coach, Mike Maney, echoed those words: “This is what wrestling should be about. It’s community against community, school versus school. A great dual meet atmosphere. You can’t beat it. Both sides of the bleachers were packed. Both teams wrestling really hard. It doesn’t get any better that.”
Bellefonte (8-1, 2-1 Mountain League) led 34-30 going into Simpson’s match with Penns Valley (10-1, 3-1) freshman Cole Felker at 152 pounds.
Maney’s message to his wrestler was simple: Just wrestle smart.
“In a dual meet situation, you are up by four, you just got to be careful,” Maney said. “The only thing that beats you is a pin. He did a great job, stayed in really good position and got the job done.”
Simpson and Felker circled around in the first period trying to feel each other out. In the second period, Simpson collected two counter takedowns as Felker looked for the big throw and points for his team to win.
The Red Raiders’ wrestler led 4-2 to start the third period. Maney and his staff advised Simpson to choose the neutral starting position. Felker continued to pressure for the big points and win for his team. Simpson countered with his third and final takedown. Felker got one more escape and that was it, with Simpson hanging on for a 6-3 dual-clinching win.
“There are nerves before every match,” Simpson said, when asked if he was nervous. “For this one, especially, with it being a rivalry and the last match, there was a lot.”
All night long, the match had the feeling of sitting in Rec Hall watching a Penn State match, except the crowd was cheering on its feet for both teams and not just one. It brought back memories for Maney in his time of wrestling for Bald Eagle Area in front of a packed gym all the time.
“That is the type of environment you want to wrestle in,” Maney said. “When you have two really good teams with a bunch of really good individuals, one thing or another could have changed this dual meet. I’m sure Coach (Joel) Brinker said the same thing.
“He does a great job with his program. I’ve always had the utmost respect for him and what he does with his guys. He always has his guys ready to wrestle. The intensity level was great.”
The night began much like it ended — in dramatic fashion — with the teams splitting the first six bouts and only one match with no bonus points scored.
Bellefonte received pins from Ethan Richner at 160 pounds, which started the dual, and Kyle Myers at 220 pounds. It was Myers’ first match of the season after sitting out the first part of the year recovering from a broken wrist from the football season. Myers joined the Red Raiders this season after transferring from West Branch, where he was one win shy of placing at the PIAA Championships last year.
Ethan Rossman received a forfeit at 195 pounds for Bellefonte.
Penns Valley was forced to juggle its lineup with 182-pound starter Andrew Sharer out of the lineup with a knee injury.
Zach Royer earned the first win of the night at 170 pounds with a 1-0 win. Wrestling up at 182 pounds, Abraham Allebach earned his 16th pin of the season in 52 seconds. Dillon Covalt made quick work of his 285-pound opponent in 1:05 to cut Bellefonte’s lead to 18-15.
Outside of Covalt’s and Allebach’s bonus points, the Rams only received one more bonus-point victory from Nate Long at 126 pounds.
“Bonus points, you can’t give them up. You got to get them,” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said. “Kudos to Bellefonte, they got what they needed. We gave up too many pins. I figured two of those matches (in the dual) we could win. When you think you win them, and you get pinned in it, it’s a major turn of events.”
Brinker didn’t specifically say which matches those were but, after Covalt’s pin, the Red Raiders earned more of those bonus points.
Aidan O’Shea picked up a 10-2 major decision at 106 pounds. Aaron Little followed with a 58-second fall.
Long’s match at 120 pounds proved to be just what the Rams needed if they wanted a shot at rallying for a win.
The freshman was tied 2-2 with Alec Bossert heading to the third period. Long picked up a takedown with 1:30 left in the match, and gave up a penalty point for a full-nelson call to make the score 4-3.
With roughly 40 seconds left in the match, Long locked up a far-side cradle and stuck Bossert with 33 seconds left on the clock.
“I give credit to Nate,” Brinker said. “For him to come back and get a fall there, it was critical to even get us back in the match.”
Other than giving up a forfeit at 138 pounds and Simpson’s finale, the rest of the match was Penns Valley after Long. However, the Rams just couldn’t get the necessary bonus points.
Baylor Shunk was bumped up to 126 pounds and earned a 7-1 victory over Alex Coppolo. Fans sounded like Penn State fans calling for stalling and making beeping noises for a backing up Coppolo.
Clayton Royer hit a reversal on Ryan Smith with 21 seconds remaining in their match at 132 pounds. Before that, Royer only led 6-5.
At 145 pounds, the crowd was rewarded with a matchup of Penns Valley’s Malachi DuVall and Bellefonte’s Cole Stewart. DuVall was dominant in a 6-1 win, showing off a very strong ride game.
“I feel like we took their hammers out, so that was good in a lot of ways,” Brinker said. “Clay lost to Smith last year, and he rebounded. We bumped to get Baylor a better matchup to wrestle Coppolo. For Malachi to take Stewart out, that was nice.”
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Bellefonte 37, Penns Valley 30
Tuesday at Bellefonte
160: Ethan Richner, B, pinned Dristen Wolfe, 1:44
170: Zach Royer, PV, dec. Andrew Howe, 1-0
182: Abraham Allebach, PV, pinned Tyler Benner, :52
195: Ethan Rossman, B, won by forfeit
220: Kyle Myers, B, pinned Carter Felker, 4:30
285: Dillon Covalt, PV, pinned Dan Orndorf, 1:05
106: Aidan O’Shea, B, major dec. Hadden Yearick, 10-2
113: Aaron Little, B, pinned Justin Darlington, :58
120: Nate Long, PV, pinned Alec Bossert, 5:27
126: Baylor Shunk, PV, dec. Alex Coppolo, 7-1
132: Clayton Royer, PV, dec. Ryan Smith, 8-6
138: Brady Martin, B, won by forfeit
145: Malachi DuVall, PV, dec. Cole Stewart, 6-1
152: Logan Simpson, B, dec. Cole Felker, 6-3
Records: Penns Valley 10-1 (3-1 Mountain League), Bellefonte 8-1 (2-1 Mountain League)