High School Sports

High school wrestling: Bald Eagle Area surges past State College in final regular-season meet

Bald Eagle Area senior Travis Giedroc understands the importance of making sacrifices.

Audrey and Walter Giedroc’s large family includes nine children. Travis is the second oldest of five sons. His older brother, Justin, wrestled for BEA. His three young brothers are future Eagles.

Instead of using weekends for their own pursuits, Audrey and Walter haul their children to sporting events. Watching his parents make sacrifices represents part of the reason why Travis doesn’t sulk when coach Steve Millward asks Travis to wrestle larger opponents.

“Whatever coach says goes,” he said. “ If he wants me to do that, I will do that to help the team. Whatever is best for the team.”

On Thursday against State College, Millward asked Giedroc to bump up from 113 to 120 pounds to face lanky State College veteran Dan Sills. Giedroc responded with a convincing 10-4 victory, an important piece of the Eagles’ 49-27 triumph in their own gym.

“I think he actually enjoys wrestling 120,” Millward said. “We just don’t let him weigh-in there. He would like it a lot more if we let him weigh-in at 120. He does what we ask. We try to match him up with the opponents’ tough kids at 113 and 120 for the sake for the team.”

Giedroc’s days competing at 120 ended Thursday. The meet concluded both teams’ regular seasons. Giedroc will compete at 113 in the postseason, which opens Feb. 22 with the District 6 Class AAA Championships in Altoona.

A memorable Senior Night victory should help push Giedroc through his workouts as an Eagle. With his entire family watching, Giedroc penetrated Sills’ defense and collected two third-period takedowns. He parlayed the second one into a five-point move. The bout was tied 3-3 after Sills, a returning Northwest Regional qualifier, escaped early in the period.

Eight BEA seniors were introduced to the home crowd for the final time before the match. Giedroc said the group, which also included Joe Powers, Jake Taylor, Aaron Varner, Nate Sharkey, Ben Verbitskey, Ryan Hicks and Ben Leskovansky, curtailed their emotions while preparing for the meet in “The Hole,” a sweat-filled practice room steps from the high school’s main gym.

“It was a little bit different,” Giedroc said. “But we try to focus on the match and not get too caught up in emotion and what it’s going to be like when the dual meet is over.”

After the match, Giedroc, a two-time regional qualifier, admitted being introduced with his parents parents sparked memories.

“They have always supported me and been there take me to Saturday practices,” he said. “My dad supported me all through elementary school. He took to me so many tournaments. I think that helped a lot along the way.”

BEA’s seniors went 5-for-5 against the Little Lions. Powers majored J.B. Holden 11-2 at 138 and Taylor (182), Varner (195) and Sharkey (285) had first-period falls, helping the Eagles finish the regular season 12-3. Verbitskey, the Eagles’ starting 170-pounder, missed the meet because of an illness.

Producing a memorable ending was important to the Eagles. The meet was contested before a large crowd and WHVL-TV sent a crew to Wingate. The station will broadcast the meet this weekend.

“I think our fans got something special out of it,” Millward said. “There’s always something with the State College-Bald Eagle match.”

The meet started at 106, and Derek Horner and Jake Haun’s falls at 145 and 152, respectively, and Alex Stover’s forfeit victory at 160 helped State College build 27-19 lead with five bouts left. BEA pinned its way through the final bouts. Mitchell Taylor (170) and David Gawryla (220) joined the seniors by decking opponents.

BEA freshman 106-pounder Cobey Bainey opened the meet by pinning Kyle Catral in the third period. Anthony Myers had a pin for State College at 126 and returning state qualifier Mike Kauffman handled Clint McCaslin 8-1 at 132.

“The biggest thing is you have to understand and learn how to believe in yourself in these tight battles,” said State College coach Chad Dubin, whose team ended the dual meet season 5-20. “Some of these matches we were way outmanned and we understand that. But in some of those other matches, you have to continually believe in yourself and what you are doing every second until the guy breaks a little bit. Our kids are going to get there and they are going to believe in themselves more and more.”