Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker will be the first to admit that every coach always wants more, and he’s no exception.
So even though the Rams are in sixth place and still have nine of their 12-man contingent alive after the first day of the District 6 Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Altoona Field House, Brinker couldn’t help but think what could have been.
“It’s always an emotional rollercoaster. Overall, I’m pleased with the day. Every coach wishes they had more and more success, more and more guys in the winners’ bracket. I was pleased overall today,” he said Friday.
Sophomore Curtis Decker, seeded fourth at 120 pounds, senior Seth Decker, seeded second at 152, and junior Corey Hazel, seeded second at 170, all advanced to the semifinals.
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Kolton Confer (113), Jared Hurd (126), Jacob Confer (132), Andrew Hurd (160), Jason Thoms (182) and Logan Johnson (195) are all still alive in the fourth round of consolations. Darren Yearick (106), Isaac Bierly (138) and Owen Carper (145) have all been eliminated after each lost two bouts.
Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s only entry, 138-pounder Austin Emel, is still alive and faces a fourth-round consolation bout.
Huntingdon surged ahead in the team race with 118.5 points. The Bearcats have 10 into the semifinals and another two still alive in the wrestlebacks. Mount Union is in second with 89 points, followed by West Branch with 83, Ligonier Valley with 73.5 and Cambria Heights in fifth with 67, one ahead of Penns Valley’s 66.
Curtis Decker started with a 9-0 major decision in the second round before scoring a fall in 3:04 in the quarterfinals. He draws No. 1 seed Triston Law of Forest Hills in the semifinals.
“Curtis’s guy, I was worried about that match. I looked at common opponents, I saw that as a dangerous match and Curtis went out and dominated,” Brinker said.
“I don’t believe they’ve wrestled. I expect a good match. He can win. He can beat Triston.”
Seth Decker rolled up a 12-1 major decision in the second round before putting together a 9-3 decision in the quarterfinals. He draws No. 3 seed Jon Wagner of Huntingdon in his semifinal bout.
“Seth’s kind of getting it going, easing into the tournament. It’s time to go now, though,” the coach said.
“I think they did wrestle a year or two ago. It’s going to be another close one.”
Hazel pinned his way into a semifinal showdown with No. 3 seed Logan Fisher of Huntingdon. Hazel started with a first-period fall in 1:48 and then in the quarterfinals, piled up a big lead before scoring a third-period fall in 5:24.
“Corey’s looking good and sharp,” Brinker said. “Logan’s a tough kid. We’re familiar with him. He beat Cole Confer for us last year twice. I think Corey can take care of business just wrestling like he’s been, high intensity and just going after it. I’m happy with the three of those guys.”
As for his six guys still alive in the consolation bracket, well, urgency is the buzzword.
“I say you have to wrestle with your hair on fire. Your season’s done as soon as you lose your next one. A few of them have some favorable matchups and I think they can battle back,” he said.
“I’m pleased where we are. Our goal as a team was to be in the top five. Last year we were fifth here. The guys that lost are just as important as the guys in the winners’ bracket. They need to win as many matches as they can in the wrestlebacks.”
For Emel, the first Wolves wrestler to enter the posteason, his start couldn’t have been better. He notched falls in his first two bouts, in 21 seconds and 3:25. He then had the tables turned on him in the semifinals.
Wrestling gets underway at 10:30 this morning with fourth-round consolation bouts. The semifinals and fifth round of consolations are scheduled for noon. The consolation semifinals are slated for 2:30. The consolation finals are on tap at 5:30 p.m. with the championship finals to follow at 6:30 p.m.