Altoona took plenty of positives away from its dual meet with visiting Bald Eagle Area Friday night at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.
The Mountain Lions had four freshmen compete in the match, and all of them won.
Junior standout D.J. Hollingshead, a returning PIAA Class AAA state qualifier, opened the match impressively with a 54-second fall at 152, improving his season record to 13-1.
There's plenty of reason for optimism in the present, and even more in the future, for the Mountain Lions.
The only downer in Friday's dual was the final score, which ended with BEA prevailing, 36-33 after winning four of the final five bouts, including the last two.
"It was a good one tonight, that's for sure, even though this one was tough to swallow,'' Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. "It was a very competitive bout. Our guys are young, and so are theirs. Our kids went out and competed and gave their best. We wrestled well, just not good enough to win.''
Led by 106-pounder C.J. Manley, Altoona's crew of freshmen shined. Manley raised his season record to 12-2 by pinning Clayton Giedroc in 2:56. Freshman Hunter Hileman (9-5) followed up Manley's win with a 3-2 decision over Michael Kachik at 113, courtesy of a first-period takedown and third-period escape.
Other Altoona freshmen who posted wins were Brinton Simington, whose third-period reversal produced a 4-3 decision over Corey Thompson at 160, and Jerrell Kephart, who racked up six nearfall points on a pair of second-period cradles for an 8-4 decision over Garrett Proctor at 132.
"Our four freshmen all won tonight,'' Gilbert said. "They're scrappy guys, and this bodes well for the future. I'm real happy with their performance.''
Other winners for Altoona (0-2 in dual meets) were junior Trent Kephart (10-4) who pinned Chase Myers in 3:09 at 182, and senior Jacob Turner, who won by forfeit at 220.
Bald Eagle Area (2-2) also has a young team, with four freshmen and three sophomores in Friday's lineup.
The Eagles pulled out the dual meet courtesy of junior Clint McCaslin's 5-0 decision at 138 and sophomore Ryan Guenot's 75-second fall to close the match at 145.
Altoona had led, 30-17 entering the final five bouts, but BEA finished strong, with sophomore Coby Bainey logging a 14-5 major decision at 120, and senior Jacob Noll following with a 4:15 pin at 126.
"Before the dual meet, we knew that there were a lot of matches that could go either way,'' BEA coach Steve Millward said. "We were banking on keeping it close until we got into the later matches, and things just went our way.''
Altoona has a quick turnaround today, when the Mountain Lions travel to the Harrisburg area to compete in the Cedar Cliff Duals.
152-Hollingshead, A, pinned Bell, :54. 160-Simington, A, dec. Comly, 4-3. 171-Taylor, BEA, tech. fall Douchette, 16-1, 5:00. 182-T. Kephart, A, pinned Myers, 3:09. 195-Gawryla, BEA, pinned Buckrop, :26. 220-Turner, A, won by forfeit. 285-Fye, BEA, won by forfeit.
106-Manley, A, pinned Giedroc, 2:56. 113-Hileman, A, dec. Kachik, 3-2. 120-Bainey, BEA, maj. dec. Querry, 14-5. 126-Noll, BEA, pinned Rimbeck, 4:15. 132-J. Kephart, A, dec. Proctor, 8-4. 138-McCaslin, BEA, dec. Bender, 5-0. 145-Guenot, BEA, pinned Reidell, 1:15.
Records: Bald Eagle Area (2-2); Altoona (0-2).
Officials: Mike Branas, Jeff Closz.
Exhibition match: Bald Eagle won by decision.