On paper, Friday night’s Big 7 Wrestling League matchup between Bald Eagle Area and Jersey Shore appeared to be a toss-up.
Although the temperatures outside the Dawg Pound were frigid, it didn’t take long for the action inside the gymnasium to heat things up.
With the two teams battling each other head to head and toe to toe, the Bulldogs won most of the close matches and used big bonus point wins to pull away from the Eagles for a convincing 49-18 win in the regular season finale for both squads.
“They (Jersey Shore) came really ready to wrestle,” said BEA coach Steve Millward. “I think they were looking to this Friday night match considering the week they had. We just needed to wrestle better, that is for sure. They won the matchups where they could have gone either way. We were hoping to get three or four of those, but in the end, most of them went their way.”
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Although he just saw his team outwrestled in the big loss, Millward also felt that the coutcome could be a motivating factor for his squad to work harder in preparation for districts.
“We wrestled well at times, but we wrestled poorly at other times,” said Millward. “What it came down to was that we had some guys wrestle well. The bottom line is that we just didn’t have enough of them to win. That is the way it goes sometimes and all we can do now is go back to practice and get ready for Saturday (districts).”
The tough week for Shore that Millward had referenced were losses to Central Mountain and Mifflin County. With those behind them, Shore coach Crock Herman was just happy for his troops to have the opportunity to return to their home mats after three road trips.
“We have been wrestling pretty well and against Mifflin County, we didn’t win, but we wrestled well,” said Herman. “Tonight they opened up and we made a few shifts in the lineup to get some bonus points. The kids wrestled hard, went after it and I am really proud of the way they bounced back.”
Herman agreed with Millward about his team winning most of the crucial matchups and close matches.
“Finally,” Herman said. “Even in the loss to Mifflin County we lost some close matches. We lost three matches that I was hoping to win, but tonight, those matches came out in our favor. It was really nice to have this match go in our favor on senior night. The kids wanted it, they went out there after it and they got it.”
Now with the regular season behind them, the Bulldogs, like the Eagles, are looking forward to participating in the individual district tournaments.
“It will be nice to get them in the mat room, get them regrouped and use the three or four days we have before districts to get them focused to win the district title,” Herman said. “It will just be nice not to be out on the road every other day and having back-to-back matches.”
Jersey Shore got off to a quick start when Jeremy Zydallas picked up a forfeit win at 106 before Shore’s Hunter Zondory cradled Clayton Giedroc for a fall in 1:22 at 113.
Garrett Rigg got the Eagles on the board at 120 when he used four takedowns and a set of back points for an 11-6 win over Isaiah Leone and Seth Koleno picked up six freebies at 126 with a win by forfeit.
BEA’s Cobey Bainey and Shore’s Allen Saar traded escapes for a 1-all deadlock after regulation before Saar came out on top 3-1 with a scramble for a takedown in overtime.
Eagle Mike Kachik built up a 4-1 lead over Chris Bashaw before Kachik put Bashaw on his back for the fall at the 3:08 mark.
With the Kachik fall, the team score was all knotted up at 15-15, but that was as close as the Eagles would be for the rest of the night as the Bulldogs took the lead for keeps with wins in the next three bouts.
Seth Young returned to the winners’ circle for Jersey Shore as he used big second and third periods for a 10-2 major over Clint McCaslin, Thayne Muthler and Andrew Cohen went round and round before Muthler prevailed with a 7-5 decision in overtime at 152 and Bulldog veteran Hadyn Swartwood need only 58 seconds to take Colton Comly to the mat and get the fall at 160.
The three wins pushed the Bulldog lead to 28-15 before Jarrett Shreffler temporarily stopped the bleeding for the Eagles with a 14-7 decision over Logan Huling at 170.
Feeling the pressure of BEA still hanging around, that is when the Bulldogs won the final four bouts, picking up falls in three of the wins.
Max Mason built a quick 5-0 lead over Chase Meyers before getting the fall with 12 seconds left in the opening period at 182 before Eagle Mitchell Taylor and Bulldog Dominick Loffredo hooked up in a wild affair at 195. Loffredo picked up the winning point with an escape in the final seconds of the bout.
With only the final score to be determined, Jake Huling and Lane Reighard put the finishing touches on the victory with falls. Huling decked Ben Bytheway in 2:39 at 220 before Reighard put Caleb Roberts’ shoulders to the mat for the count at the 1:17 mark of the opening period to set the final and send the fans toward the exits.