Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola entered Tuesday night’s dual meet on different trajectories. The Rams were 1-0 and seemingly gaining momentum. The Mounties were 0-3 and searching desperately for a win after facing a schedule front-loaded with three of the better wrestling teams in the area.
After P-O’s 43-24 win at the Philipsburg-Osceola High School gymnasium, it was the Mounties finally heading up and the Rams befuddled by a flat performance.
P-O won nine of 14 bouts, three by forfeit, two by fall, one by major and three by decision. Penns Valley recorded three falls and two decisions.
Not surprisingly, each coach had polar opposite assessments of his team.
“We needed a win,” Philipsburg-Osceola coach Tim McCamley said. “Our schedule is brutal. Penns Valley is obviously no pushover. They are a very good team. The teams we’ve wrestled — Chestnut Ridge, Huntingdon and Bellefonte — those guys are loaded.”
Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker was still searching for answers several minutes after the match ended.
“Not good,” he said. “I’m just really trying to process it right now. It’s not the team I’ve seen so far this year.
“I’m not taking anything from P-O. They showed up and wrestled. I don’t feel we had our best team out on the mat tonight, overall, top to bottom. We have to look at some things and address some things. There wasn’t much urgency on the mat all night. It was very flat, top to bottom.”
The match started at 152 pounds, and immediately the coaches started moving wrestlers in their lineups like pieces on a chess board. The Mounties ultimately had more, better pieces to move into favorable matchups on this night.
The Mounties’ Dakota Weitoish accepted a forfeit to start the match. Nick Patrick (160 pounds) and Ian Klinger (170) followed with a 7-6 decision and first-period fall, respectively, to stake P-O to a 15-0 lead.
“We moved our lineup a little bit thinking there might be forfeits,” McCamley said. “We wrestled really well. Even where the good matches occurred I thought we wrestled well there, too.
“I sort of knew they were going to bump away from Weitoish. I thought Nick Patrick came out and wrestled well at 160. Ian Klinger really came on strong. He’s capable of doing that. I think he has a bit of a confidence problem as a sophomore.”
Allen Cain got the Rams on the board at 182 with a first-period fall, but the Mounties countered with wins at the next two weights.
Brandon Anderson scored a reversal and takedown in the first tiebreaker period to win 4-1 at 195. Micah Sidorick followed with a pin in 3:00 at 220.
Penns Valley posted back-to-back wins to pull within 24-15. Logan Johnson scored nine points over the final two periods to win, 9-4, at 285. And, at 106, Baylor Shunk needed just 1:15 to notch a fall to pull Penns Valley within 24-15.
“Baylor, a freshman, went out there at 106 with some urgency and flew into the guy,” Brinker said. “The rest were not very aggressive at all.”
After P-O’s Noah Twoey received a forfeit at 113, Penns Valley got a fall from 120-pounder Darren Yearick to pull within 30-21.
McCamley shifted wrestlers up a weight in the next three bouts. The move paid off with three wins. Noah Clark received a forfeit at 126 and Matt Johnson and Bryce Bennett followed with a decision and major decision, respectively, to expand P-O’s lead to 43-21.
Ram 145-pounder Curtis Decker built a 5-0 lead on Levi Hughes after one period. Hughes clawed back into contention, but Decker was able to hold on for a 7-5 decision to close the match.
“I was really, really impressed with Bryce Bennett and Matt Johnson,” McCamley said. “And Levi Hughes wrestled a tremendous match against Decker tonight. Levi’s starting to peak. He’s really starting to wrestle well, even in a losing cause.
“We wrestled really well in all positions. I thought we wrestled well on our feet. We’ve had a tough December. It made us better. We’re better because of it. It’s a nice win going into the break.”
Both teams don’t wrestle again until after Christmas. Philipsburg-Osceola travels to Lancaster on Dec. 29 for the Conestoga Valley Holiday Tournament. Penns Valley is off until Jan. 2, when it travels to Lansford to wrestle in Panther Valley’s Anthracite Duals.