EBENSBURG - Cambria Heights trailed archrival Central Cambria, 29-28, entering the final four bouts of Thursday night's Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference dual meet at the Central Cambria High School gymnasium.
But Heights coach Mike Eckenrode had a strong conviction that his team was in the catbird seat.
As it turned out, Eckenrode was right. Ross Inzana registered a technical fall at 170 pounds, Tyler Crawford and Jake Beach followed with lightning-quick pins at 182 and 195, respectively, and Aaron Gill closed the match with a decision at 220 as Heights (6-4) swept the last four bouts en route to a 48-29 victory.
"We've got some horses at the top of our lineup, and they definitely came through for us,'' Eckenrode said. "Inzana, Crawford and Beach are going to get us wins most of the time, and they're all pinners.''
Inzana, a senior and returning Southwest AA Regional Tournament qualifier, improved his season record to 8-1 with a workmanlike 16-0 technical fall over Cody Slebodnick in 3:35 to give Heights the lead for keeps, 34-29.
Crawford needed just 23 seconds to pin Calvin Crow at 182, and Beach followed with a 41-second fall over Jordan O'Farrell at 195. Gill closed out the match by scoring a 2-0 decision over Luke Zearing at 220, benefiting from two interlocking penalty points in the final minute that were assessed against Zearing by offical Tab Boyer.
Heights got falls f rom returning District 6-AA champion Ryan Dupas at 113, Joe Davis at 126, and freshman Levi Neibauer at 138, while Richard Legros racked up a major decision at 145 for the Highlanders, who bolted to a 28-17 lead. Davis, a sophomore, improved to 9-1 on the season, while Dupas bettered his record to 7-3.
"Ryan is tough,'' Eckenrode said of Dupas, who pinned Brad Taylor in 4:48. "He'll go out there and give you 100 percent every time. Joe Davis has been doing a great job, and Niebauer is a freshman who goes out and pins kids. Legros got a nice win for us tonight. This was only his second dual meet. He didn't wrestle last year. He played basketball.''
There was a big silver lining in the match for Central Cambria (3-10). The Red Devils got an inspirational fall from Cameron Long at 120 pounds, a technical fall from Ben Rager at 132, and falls from Tanner Bilonick at 152 and Ben Risaliti at 160.
Rager (16-0 this season) and Risaliti (15-1) are both returning state medalists. Rager dominated his match with Brad Thomas en route to an 18-2, 3:05 technical fall at 132, while Risaliti pinned Dalton Waksmunski in 1:38 at 160.
"Ben and Tony bring a type of calmness to the team in the matches,'' Central Cambria coach Bob Nikolishen said. "You just always have the feeling that they're going to go out there and get things done.''
Long earned an 'A' for effort at 120, when, trailing 7-3 with 17 seconds left, he hooked up a pinning combination against Jeff Brahim. Bilonick registered a fall in 1:45 against Travis Yahner at 152.
"Cameron Long keeps looking for that special thing, and tonight, I think he found it,'' Nikolishen said. "This team has an awful lot of fight inside it. A team that is 3-10 may get an attitude where they start to become used to losing, but I haven't seen that from these guys.''
The match started with one forfeit each way. Evan Sokira began the night with a forfeit win for Central Cambria at 285, while Mike Dautlick got a forfeit victory for Heights in the next bout at 106.
"It's always nice to come up here and beat Central Cambria,'' Eckenrode said. "They have some quality kids.''
285-Sokira, CC, won by forfeit. 106-Dautlick, CH, won by forfeit. 113-Dupas, CH, pinned Taylor, 4:48. 120-Long, CC, pinned Brahim, 4:43. 126-Davis, CH, pinned Makin, 1:22. 132-Rager, CC, tech. fall Thomas, 18-2, 3:05. 138-Neibauer, CH, pinned Karlinsey, 1:43.
145-Legros, CH, maj. dec. Bednar, 11-3. 152-Bilonick, CC, pinned Yahner, 1:45. 160-Risaliti, CC, pinned Waksmunski, 1:38. 170-Inzana, CH, tech. fall Slebodnik, 16-0, 3:35. 182-Crawford, CH, pinned Crow, :23. 195-Beach, CH, pinned O'Farrell, :41. 220-Gill, CH dec. Zearing, 2-0.
Official: Tab Boyer. Records: Cambria Heights (6-4); Central Cambria (3-10).
Exhibition matches: Steve Pennington, CC, and Mike Zabinsky, CH, both registered falls.