Heights’ strong opening leads to win

PATTON – Cambria Heights broke out to an eye-opening 32-0 lead in its Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference dual meet with visiting Central Cambria Tuesday night.

The Highlanders swept the first six bouts, logging four falls and two major decisions along the way, en route to a 53-24 victory at the Cambria Heights High School gymnasium.

Among those who were most awed by his team’s burst out of the tunnel was Heights coach Mike Eckenrode himself.

“Falls make a big difference in a match,” Eckenrode said after watching Heights improve to 6-2. “[Central Cambria has] some tough kids. We wrestled a nice match. We started out a lot better than I thought we were going to.”

Senior Mike Zabinski got the ball rolling for Heights with a 10-1 major decision over Kevin Bednar at 138, breaking open a 2-1 match with eight third-period points on a reversal and three 3-point near-fall sequences. Freshman Austin Gill followed with a victory by fall over Tyler Karlinsey with just four seconds remaining in the second period, and Levi Niebauer rapped out a 10-2 major over Gabe Seymour in a battle of sophomores at 152 to give Heights a 14-0 lead.

Neibauer (9-3 this season) had four takedowns in the win, including three in the third period.

“Getting takedowns on my feet pretty much won the match for me,” Neibauer said.

Another Heights sophomore, Dalton Waksmunski, needed only 46 seconds to pin Luke Kozorosky at 160, and senior Travis Yahner shook off a 5-0 first-period deficit against Devyn Bowser to reverse Bowser and pin him with two seconds remaining in the period. Senior Tyler Crawford (8-0) completed Heights’ surge by pinning Calvin Crow in 28 seconds at 182.

“Zabinski had a good win to start the match, and any time somebody can get off their back and get a pin, like Yahner did, it’s huge,” Eckenrode said. “Dalton Waksmunski did a real nice job in his match. This was a total team effort.”

Central Cambria (5-10) didn’t come out with its game face on Tuesday, said Red Devils coach Bob Nikolishen.

“This wasn’t a good night for our team,” Nikolishen said. “We’re sore, we’re tired, and we needed a rest. But coming up here to Cambria Heights and figuring that this was a place where we could get that rest is not a good choice.

“I don’t think we had our motor in the water,” Nikolishen added. “From the get-go tonight, we were totally unprepared for the pace Cambria Heights was setting.”

The Highlanders’ other victories in the contested bouts were senior Dominic Novella’s 41-second win by fall over Jordan O’Farrell at 220, sophomore Mike Dautlick’s 2:38 win by fall over Corey Lazration at 113, and junior Joe Davis’ 7-1 decision over Steve Pennington to end the match at 132. Davis improved to 10-2. Heights junior Aaron Gill (11-1) took a forfeit win at 285.

“I thought Novella did a real nice job at 220, and Mike Dautlick, who is only in his second year of wrestling, has been coming on strong,” Eckenrode said.

Bright spots for Central Cambria were provided by talented freshman Ian Ostrowski (13-5), who pinned Mark Zabinski in 1:02 at 106 pounds, and sophomore Tom Howell, who pinned Anthony Mezzelo in 5:28 at 195.

Another freshman, Tommy Opdenhoff, improved his season record to 17-3 with a forfeit win at 120, and junior Brad Taylor also took a forfeit win at 126.

“Ian Ostrowski wrestled a solid match, and Tom Howell wrestled a great match,” Nikolishen said.

In some of the other bouts, however, Nikolishen is searching for improvement.

“Tonight was one of those cement matches for us,” he quipped. “In a lot of the bouts, it looked like we were stuck in cement, and we weren’t moving.”

Meet notes: Tyler Yahner is the nephew of Dave Yahner, who won a PIAA Class AA state championship at 167 pounds for the Highlanders back in 1986 … Cambria Heights enjoyed a 12-3 advantage in takedowns … Central Cambria prevailed in the junior varsity bout, 78-16 … Both Central Cambria and Cambria Heights will participate in the Richland Duals Saturday. Before that, Central Cambria visits Johnstown for a dual meet Thursday.

138–Mike Zabinski, CH, maj. dec. Bednar, 10-1. 145-Austin Gill, CH, pinned Karlinsey, 3:56. 152-Neibauer, CH, maj. dec. Seymour, 10-2. 160-Waksmunski, CH, pinned Kozorosky, :46. 170-Yahner, CH, pinned Bowser, 1:58. 182-Crawford, CH, pinned Crow, :28. 195-Howell, CC, pinned Mezzelo, 5:28.

220-Novella, CH, pinned O’Farrell, :41. 285-Aaron Gill, CH, won by forfeit. 106-Ostrowski, CC, pinned Mark Zabinski, 1:02. 113-Dautlick, CH, pinned Lazaration, 2:38. 120-Opdenhoff, CC, won by forfeit. 126-Taylor, CC, won by forfeit. 132-Davis, CH, dec. Pennington, 7-1.

Records: Central Cambria (5-10); Cambria Heights (6-2).

Official: Jake Krug.