Bellefonte coach Mike Maney came into Saturday’s District 6 Class 3A dual championships hoping to square off against Mifflin County, which he felt his squad better matched up with.
Maney got his wish. But, unfortunately for the Red Raiders, the result wasn’t in their favor in the 35-27 loss in the district title match at Tyrone High/Middle School.
“I thought it was a great matchup for us,” Maney said. “I thought we had a better team. Guess what? They don’t give district titles to paper; you have to go out and perform. I think it is one we let slip away.”
Earlier in the day, the Red Raiders routed Altoona 46-22 in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Mifflin County edged Central Mountain in a come-from-behind 28-27 win. Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin took questions from the media afterward, a little beside himself after witnessing his team’s performance.
“To come out and beat Central Mountain and Bellefonte, it’s awesome,” Martin said. “I thought it would go wire-to-wire in both matches. I knew going in, this was going to be some ugly wrestling. The weather has really messed up practices and getting on the mat. It was a little bit of a mystery of how we were going to compete today.”
Martin didn’t make it easy. Saturday’s championship match was a back-and-forth affair that came down to the very end. With two bouts left and Bellefonte coming off a forfeit win, the Red Raiders trailed 29-27 with the 120- and 126-pound wrestlers still set to compete.
At that point, Maney still felt good.
“As a team, I thought we were in the best position to win,” he said. “We knew ’20 and ’26 they are really good. We figured they would be toss-up matchups, but our guys wrestled there at the end.”
Bellefonte’s Lane Aikey (120 pounds) and Alex Coppolo (126) had a tall task to get their team a victory by having to go through state qualifiers at their respective weight classes. Aikey pushed Christian Fisher, who finished eighth in the PIAA championships last year.
Aikey looked to have secured a peterson and a 5-4 victory at the buzzer, but the official didn’t award any points to the surprise of the crowd. Instead, it was a 4-3 win for Fisher, and Bellefonte trailed 32-27 going to the final match.
Coppolo came out looking for the fall right away against Derek Burk. Burk, though, weathered the storm from Coppolo and opened up a 5-0 lead after the first period. Coppolo just couldn’t get anything going and ultimately fell to Burk 8-4.
“We made progress from December when we were down here,” Maney said reflecting on his team’s first dual of the year. “If we would’ve wrestled the same way we did against Tyrone, we would’ve got beat much worse.
“When you break down these matches, it’s just little things: finishing your shots, coming up off the mat, not staying on your knees, not getting sloppy on top. It’s little things that are correctable. It wasn’t for a lack of effort.”
The championship match certainly wasn’t disappointing for fans in the stands. The entertaining affair was a see-saw matchup from the get-go with Bellefonte and Mifflin County splitting the first two bouts.
The Huskies opened the dual at 132 pounds with bonus points from Ethan Kauffman, who wrestled for St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy last season. Kauffman collected four takedowns and a set of near-fall points for a 12-3 major decision over Dylan Dann at 132 pounds.
Ryan Smith (138) responded for the Red Raiders. He used a solid ride in the second period to keep Mifflin County’s Kyler Everly from scoring any points. In the third period, Smith tallied an escape and a takedown to earn the 3-0 win.
At 145 pounds, Bellefonte was a heavy favorite with Cole Stewart taking on a freshman in Trey Shoemaker. Stewart recorded the match’s first takedown, but Shoemaker collected a reversal for the pair to be tied 2-2 going to the second period.
Shoemaker started in the bottom position in the second period. The pair were scrambling when Shoemaker caught Stewart being “sloppy on top.” Shoemaker ended up recording a defensive pin on Stewart in 2:36, sending shockwaves through Maney as his team trailed 10-3.
“We lost some matches that we were probably heavily favored in,” Maney said. “145 hurts. It was definitely some momentum that we’d like to have going there into the upperweights.”
Ethan Richner responded admirably for his coach and teammates at 152 pounds. He raced out to a 9-0 lead on Anson Wagner, before pinning the Huskies’ wrestler in 1:17.
Mifflin County responded with a fall of its own from Trey Kibe in 2:12 to go ahead 16-9.
The Huskies and Red Raiders split the next two bouts to keep Mifflin County’s lead at seven points. Kyle Myers earned a 4-2 sudden-victory win at 170 pounds for Bellefonte. Jacob Krepps fought off a hard-charging Andrew Howe for a 5-2 Mifflin County win at 182 pounds.
Bellefonte wasn’t deterred. It won the next two bouts, on a fall from Ethan Rossman (195) and a decision from Max Barrier (220), to claim its first lead of the match, 21-19.
But, unfortunately for Bellefonte, those would be its last victories. Still, Martin complimented Maney and the Red Raiders’ effort.
“Coach Maney does a great job with his kids,” Martin said. “I knew they were going to be ready to go. I really respect how they competed today.
“It went right down to the end; that makes for some really good wrestling for the fans.”
District 6 Class 3A Championships
Saturday at Tyrone
Mifflin County 35, Bellefonte 27
132: Ethan Kauffman, MC, major dec. Dylan Dann, 12-3
138: Ryan Smith, B, dec. Kyler Everly, 3-0
145: Trey Shoemaker, MC, pinned Cole Stewart, 2:36
152: Ethan Richner, B, pinned Anson Wagner, 1:17
160: Trey Kibe, MC, pinned Logan Simpson, 2:12
170: Kyle Myers, B, dec. Brycen Hassinger, 4-2 (SV)
182: Jacob Krepps, MC, dec. Andrew Howe, 5-2
195: Ethan Rossman, B, pinned Dylan Grassmyer, 2:43
220: Max Barrier, B, dec. Isaac Matthews, 7-4
285: Blaine Davis, MC, pinned Dan Orndorf, 1:17
106: Nic Allison, MC, major dec., Aidan O’Shea, 13-1
113: Aaron Little, B, won by forfeit
120: Christian Fisher, MC, dec. Lane Aikey, 4-3
126: Derek Burk, MC, dec. Alex Coppolo, 8-4
Bellefonte 46, Altoona 22
126: Matt Sarbo, A, pinned Alec Bossert, 1:07
132: Jordan Wagner, A, dec. Alex Coppolo, 11-4
138: Ryan Smith, B, dec. Corey McClellan, 8-2
145: Cole Stewart, B, pinned Andrew Beach, 1:00
152: Ethan Richner, B, pinned Gavin Wagner, 1:10
160: Logan Simpson, B, pinned Zachary Freet, :39
170: Kyle Myers, B, pinned Adam Zerbee, 1:28
182: Andrew Howe, B, dec. Colin Allmond, 10-8
195: Ethan Rossman, B, pinned Josh Keirn, 3:21
220: Max Barrier, B, pinned Shamus Walker, :50
285: Trevor Manley, A, pinned Dan Orndorf, 1:09
106: Jordan Carlucci, A, dec. Aidan O’Shea, 3-1
113: Luke Hileman, A, major dec., Aaron Little, 19-6
120: Lane Aikey, B, major dec. Damion Finnegan, 10-1