BELLEFONTE — Bellefonte’s unforgiving schedule doesn’t deter Toby Cain.
No matter how many setbacks he experiences, Cain returns to the Red Raider practice room, enhancing his moves and building endurance for nights such as Tuesda
y, when every moves becomes magnified.
Six minutes against Penns Valley demonstrated the value of perseverance.
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Cain used a big third period to win his 220-pound bout, creating an avenue for the Red Raiders to defeat the previously-undefeated Rams 39-31.
Weighing in at 187 pounds and bumping up from 195 to 220, Cain halted Penns Valley’s momentum with a 6-3 victory over Mike Mundt. The win trimmed the Rams’ lead to 31-27, allowing Garrett Poorman and Luke Leathers to complete the victory with first-period falls.
“Those are the types of kids good things happen to,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said of Cain. “Sometimes it might not seem like that. I know he has struggled with confidence and maybe things haven’t gone his way so far this season. But he shows up to practice and works hard. It’s moments like this that will last a long time.”
Cain’s junior season featured a frustrating start. He entered Tuesday with an 0-7 record.
The record meant nothing when he held a 2-1 lead entering the third period. Mundt reversed Cain early in the period to take a 3-2 lead. Cain plowed to his feet for an escape, pushed the action and coaxed a fleeing the mat call to take a 4-3 lead. With Mundt searching for a big move, Cain executed an inside trip, taking Mundt down for two insurance points.
“I finally got the nerves worked out of me,” Cain said. “I tried to get the upperhand out from under him. He’s a big guy. Luckily, he did what I was attempting. I was able to work him into the position where I could drag him down.”
Cain’s stomach settled when he returned to the bench and watched Poorman and Leathers. Poorman, a mammoth heavyweight who placed seventh at last year’s state tournament, pinned Mike Confer in 52 seconds. Leathers, a skilled sophomore 106-pounder, clinched the victory by pinning Isacc Bierly in 1:49.
Bellefonte (5-2) weighed multiple wrestlers in at 106, but Maney opted to save Leathers for the final bout, sacrificing early points for a confident closer. Penns Valley’s Curtis Decker opened the meet by p
inning Collin Wesley at 113.
“I knew we could possibly need six points at the end,” Maney said. “You always want to have that ringer at the end in case you need it. Knowing we had Poorman and Leathers there, I knew we could get some bonus points at the end if the match was close enough.”
Penns Valley tried following the template that yielded a 15-0 start. After Bellefonte won four of the first five bouts — the Red Raiders received forfeits at 120 and 126, Nate Rosenberger edged Jacob Confer 1-0 at 132 and Tanner Day handled Matt Hosterman 6-1 at 138 — the Rams relied on a potent stretch from 145 to 195 to open a gap.
Penns Valley won five of the next six bouts, with the only interruption coming at 170, where Bellefonte state medalist Nick Shawley locked a cradle and pinned Drew Hurd. Dillon Kephart and Austin Phillips saved points for the Red Raiders. Kephart, a freshman, held veteran Seth Decker to a 5-1 decision at 145 and Phillips lasted six minutes in a 14-4 loss to undefeated 182-pounder Mike Rogers.
Cole Confer (152), Corey Hazel (160) and Maverick Swartz (195) had first-period falls for the Rams. Realizing the importance of bonus points, Confer locked a cradle after a quick opening takedown against Austin Cable. With Cable squirming free, Confer switched to a half-nelson, ending the bout in the first period.
“They have been doing that all year,” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said of his middleweights. “We knew what we had coming in. We were going to forfeit two weights, so we were game planning for it. Our kids knew what they needed to do and their kids knew they had to stay off their backs.”
Now, the Rams (15-1) find themselves in recovery mode for the first time. Penns Valley’s next three meets are against Class AA Bellwood-Antis, Huntingdon and West Branch. The matches will play a large part in determining seeds for the upcoming District 6 Class AA team duals.
“We can’t pin our whole season on this match,” Brinker said.
For Bellefonte, the victory completed a Centre County sweep. The Red Raiders also defeated State College 43-23, Philipsburg-Osceola 39-32 and Bald Eagle Area 36-30.
“It’s a great win,” Cain said. “Every win is a good win.”