PHILIPSBURG — Ben Leskovansky didn’t wrestle as a sophomore and junior and spent the first half of this season trimming 13 pounds to make Bald Eagle Area’s lineup.
Before stepping into the frigid air here Tuesday night, Leskovansky stood outside the visitors’ locker room, discussing his reasons for returning to the sport.
The corner scoreboards inside the Philipsburg-Osceola gym were already turned off. But Leskovansky didn’t need visual reinforcement to describe the sensation following BEA’s 39-25 victory Tuesday.
His overtime triumph at 152 pounds helped the Eagles capture the first of likely two duals against one of their biggest rivals. BEA (6-2) and P-O (7-4) are expected to meet again next week in the opening round of the District 6 Class AAA team tournament.
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By then, Leskovansky might be seasoned. The senior had never wrestled a varsity bout before encountering Kaleb Guy.
“All the work we do in the room, all the weight we have to cut. ...I’m thinking the whole time, ‘I have to make it worth it. I have to make it worth it.’” Lesovansky said. “That was definitely worth it.”
Leskovansky fought off an overtime headlock by keeping an arm around Guy’s waist, stunning the crowd with a counter takedown to earn a 6-4 victory. The first 6 minutes, 23 seconds of Leskovansky’s varsity career epitomized the emotions associated with high school wrestling in central Pennsylvania.
The bout included an early double stall call and a conference at the scorer’s table after a wild third-period exchange. Guy, who trailed 3-0, took a 4-3 lead by catching Leskovansky in a headlock. An illegal hold tied the bout 4-4 with nine seconds left. BEA assistant Jade Thompson argued the illegal hold was locked before the takedown. Referee Jack Pencil never budged from his initial call.
Leskovansky, who joined the wrestling team late after BEA’s second in the District 6 Class AAA soccer playoffs, regathered his composure to prevail in overtime.
“We are in shape,” he said. “Down in the wrestling room, the coaches make sure we are in shape. It pays off when we are in that type of shape.”
The 152-pound bout resembled many of the other 13 — it was competitive and entertaining.
The victory started a stretch where BEA won three bouts from 152 to 170 pounds by a a combined six points. BEA senior Tyler Baney and P-O senior Andrew Greenawalt also found themselves in overtime at 160, with Baney using a counter takedown to prevail 8-6. Baney earned BEA’s portion of the Dennis “Flash” Horton Memorial Award for the victory.
The 170-pound bout featured the same score, with BEA senior Ben Verbitskey using a four-point move in the first period to defeat P-O senior Jay Prentice 8-6.
The three victories cut P-O’s lead to 19-18. In reality, the Mounties’ were frosted after the setbacks. A quartet of powerful upperweights flipped the meet in BEA’s favor. Jake Taylor (182), David Gawryla (195) and Nate Sharkey (285) had pins. Aaron Varner moved up from 195 to defeat Nick Gray 8-4 at 220.
“This match could have gone either way even though it looks like a blowout,” P-O coach Tim McCamley said. “We lost four matches by three points or less. We lost two in overtime. That’s a big swing in points.”
The swings started early, as BEA freshman Mike Kachik led Chris Barnhart 11-10 early in the third period. With one minute left, Kachik pinned Barnhart, giving the Eagles six team points instead of three.
Kachik scored 15 seconds into the bout, a sign the Eagles were still buzzing from last weekend’s seventh-place showing at the 32-team Escape the Rock Tournament. BEA went 5-for-5 in Sunday’s final round.
“I was eager to see how we would respond after the weekend we had,” BEA coach Steve Millward said. “I expected a little bit of fatigue, but some of those guys really stepped up.”
Sophomore Clint McCaslin used confidence gained from going 2-2 at ETR to defeat Dallas Kephart 3-0 at 132. McCaslin entered Tuesday 5-11. Kephart was 12-5.
Records also meant little at 120, where P-O’s Bryan Descavish scored five points in the final 20 seconds to major Travis Giedroc 19-9. Giedroc was 16-5. Descavish, P-O’s recipient of the “Flash” Horton Award, was 8-7.
“Bryan has been having a real tough senior year,” McCamley said. “He’s working harder than he’s ever worked in the room. It’s nice to see him put it together.”
Teammate Brian Evans followed Descavish by pinning Cody Stine in 42 seconds. Chris Thompson (106) and Justin Millard (145) added falls and Caleb Shively defeated Joe Powers 4-0 at 138 for the Mounties.
Unless something mysterious happens, the Eagles and Mounties will meet next Wednesday in the first round of the district team tournament. The teams entered Tuesday fourth and fifth in the team standings. Six teams qualify for the tournament. The top two receive first-round byes.
“Basically, we tested the waters,” McCamley said. “They were more physical than we were. That’s obvious. They beat us. We have some work to do.”
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