CRESSON - Normally a strong dual meet team, Penn Cambria entered Tuesday's match against rival Central Cambria with an 0-5 record.
To make matters worse, the Panthers were down to nine wrestlers and missing injured star Nick Szala (back).
The Red Devils have also taken their lumps this year, but they were happy to give some out, charging out to a 30-0 lead en route to a 54-17 win and snapping a nine-match losing streak.
"Our guys have been taking a lot of poundings," CC coach Bob Nikolishen said, "and one of the things we've been stressing is how are we going to utilize those beatings in a positive manner. They did that tonight. We wrestled very well in places where I thought we wouldn't.
"They [Penn Cambria] are working with those low numbers, and their lineup changed from what I've seen, and that made a difference too. I just hope they can heal because I'm a gunner for the teams that are struggling because we're one of them."
"We saw the lapse in the numbers for years," PC coach Todd Niebauer said. "A couple kids didn't come out. It's a test I guess. We've been so solid for years it's hard to go from one extreme to another. Half of my kids have three years of experience or less in the sport of wrestling. They're giving me what they got."
Central Cambria 285-pounder Evan Sokira set the tone for the Devils in a shocking opening bout. Sokira locked up with Seth McLendon, ranked third in the Mirror rankings, tossed the PC sophomore to his back and pinned him in 13 seconds.
"Evan Sokira, man of the year," Nikolishen said smiling. "He came out his senior year, and we kept emphasizing get those couple moments that will make this worthwhile. This was definitely one of those memorable moments that we could talk about for awhile. Seth is a very good wrestler, and Evan just caught him offguard."
"I told Seth before he went out 'This guy is a true heavyweight. He's going to headlock or roll from the bottom,' " Niebauer said. "Hey, 13 seconds in, he got caught, and he's got to handle it like a man."
A 41-second pin by Brad Taylor at 113 and a forfeit win by Cameron Long at 120 followed. CC's Coltin Makin built an 11-0 lead on Zach Rhone-Hatch before taking him down to his back and pinning him in 3:16. The Devils (4-9) held a 30-0 lead.
Niebauer pushed the right button by moving Mike Eckenrode away from top-ranked Ben Rager (17-0) to 138, where he scored six points in the third period to beat Tyler Karlinsey, 10-3. Szala (14-1), ranked second, would have been at 138 had he been healthy.
"We've rested him for four or five days now, and he got an X-ray today," Niebauer said, "so we're going to find out what's going on."
At 145, PC's Matt Wyland also just missed bonus points with a 9-2 win over Kevin Bednor, notching three takedowns along the way.
With a double weigh-in at 152, Niebauer opted to have third-ranked Jon Stoy wrestle Tanner Bilonick, and ring up a 15-0 technical fall in 2:20, and move Henry Spangler up to 160 to face top-ranked Tony Risaliti (16-1), who won by fall in 1:01.
"Jon has had some rough outings in the last couple weeks," Niebauer said. "He was sick, hasn't been himself. You want to get the individual matchups but you also need some confidence. We need to get him a little bit of confidence."
After CC's Cody Slebodnick won by forfeit at 170, PC's Henry Schlosser pinned Calvin Crow in 1:46 at 182.
The Devils won the last two, with Jordan O'Farrell winning by forfeit at 195 and Luke Zearing taking John Wilkinson down to his back and pinning him in 3:42.
Notes: Pat Chirdon (1957 Cresson High School graduate), Charles Horton (1968) and John Suekinos (1977) were inducted into Penn Cambria's first Hall of Fame before the match. ... CC wrestles Richland at home Thursday and participates in the Richland Duals Friday and Saturday. PC is also in the Richland Duals.
285-Sokira, CC, pinned McLendon, :13; 106-No bout; 113-Taylor, CC, pinned Gates, :41; 120-Long, CC, won by forfeit; 126-Makin, CC, pinned Rhone-Hatch, 3:16; 132-Rager, CC, won by forfeit; 138-Eckenrode, PC, dec. Karlinsey, 10-3.
145-Wyland, PC, dec. Bednor, 9-2; 152-Stoy, PC, tech. fall Bilonick, 15-0, 2:20; 160-Risaliti, CC, pinned Spangler, 1:01; 170-Slebodnick, CC, won by forfeit; 182-Schlosser, PC, pinned Crow, 1:46; 195-O'Farrell, CC, won by forfeit; 220-Zearing, CC, pinned Wilkinson, 3:42.
Records: Central Cambria (4-9); Penn Cambria (0-6).