Lions rally past Golden Tigers

HOLLIDAYSBURG – Altoona’s dual meet with archrival Hollidaysburg Thursday night started with the Golden Tigers in control.

But it ended with a Mountain Lions’ blitzkrieg that put the match snugly into Altoona’s collective back pocket.

Altoona overcame a 27-0 deficit after the first five bouts by sweeping each of the next eight en route to a 42-30 victory over the Golden Tigers at the Hollidaysburg Area Junior High School gymnasium.

“Our guys wrestled hard,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said after watching his team improve to 7-9 in duals. “Hollidaysburg has a nice team, but we stormed back tonight. I’m real happy with the way it turned out.”

The match began at the lowest weight class, 106 pounds, where returning Class AAA state qualifier Damian Huff of Hollidaysburg (14-2 this season) mashed out an 18-2, 2:34 win by technical fall over Jeff Bryan. Sophomore Darren Bowser followed with a 13-0 major decision over Daniel Querry at 113, and Hollidaysburg’s Mark Kociola and Nathan Hagg both took forfeit victories for Hollidaysburg at 120 and 126 pounds, respectively. The Golden Tigers’ Colton Walls pinned Kyler Bender with a cradle at the 2:53 mark of the 132-pound bout, giving Hollidaysburg the 27-0 cushion.

Then Altoona put on its game face.

The Mountain Lions responded with five falls over the next eight bouts to cinch the victory.

Senior Dylan Rodgers got the ball rolling for Altoona with an 11-4 decision over Luciano Tuscano at 138, courtesy of five takedowns.

“Rodgers wrestled a solid bout tonight, without a doubt,” Gilbert said.

After sophomore D.J. Hollingshead (26-3 this season) took a forfeit win at 145 for Altoona, three-time PIAA Class AAA state tournament qualifier T.J. Brandt used a double arm bar to pin Calob Walls 1:14 into the 152-pound bout. Brandt, who bumped up a couple weights from his customary 138-pound slot, improved his season record to 21-3.

Altoona kept on rolling at 160, where returning regional qualifier Markief Knode battled back from a 2-1 third-period deficit to take a 6-2 win over Jakob Wolk. At 170, Altoona’s Trenton Kephart needed only 50 seconds to pin Nick Servello, and Nick McCarthy gave the Mountain Lions their first lead of the night, 30-27 by pinning Ian Bilofsky in 5:14 at 182.

“Nick McCarthy really stepped it up for us tonight,” Gilbert said of the Altoona junior. “He’s been a spot starter for us, but now that we’ve got all of our guys at their normal weights, he’s going to continue to be in the lineup. He got an opportunity tonight, and he took full advantage of it.”

McCarthy overcame an early 4-0 deficit to run off 13 straight points before getting the fall. Hollidaysburg coach Mike Moore, whose Tigers dropped to 2-6 in duals, felt that the 160 and 182-pound bouts were instrumental in the final outcome.

“We got off to a good start, but we knew they were strong up the middle with Brandt and Hollingshead,” Moore said. “I thought the 160 and 182-pound matches were key matches. We were winning both those matches, but we ended up on the short end of both of those matches.”

Altoona kept its foot on the gas pedal at 195 pounds, where senior Mante Barnes, another returning regional qualifier, came up with seven takedowns in the first minute of the bout before pinning Van Lanzendorfer in 1:08.

“Mante really looked good on takedowns,” Gilbert said of Barnes, who placed fifth at the prestigious Powerade Tournament at Canon-McMillan High School in late December. “He’s hungry this year. He’s getting ready for districts and regionals.”

At 220 pounds, sophomore Jacob Scheinberg locked up the dual meet win for Altoona by pinning Tevin Pulcine in 3:33.

“Scheinberg really wrestled tough,” Gilbert said. “He went after his opponent, worked for the fall, and got it done.”

Scheinberg’s pin gave Altoona a 42-27 lead, and enabled the Mountain Lions to breathe easy entering the 285-pound bout, in which Hollidaysburg’s Matt Barton carved out a 7-3 decision over Austin Rosenberry on the strength of a four-point move in the second period. It was Barton’s 20th win in 22 decisions this season.

Meet notes: It was senior night for the Hollidaysburg wrestling team, and the squad’s two graduating seniors, Barton and Bilofsky, were honored with their parents in a pre-match ceremony … The match was televised on State College-based station WHVL-TV, with former United States Olympian and Penn State All-American Ken Chertow handling the color analysis. It will be re-broadcast on Sunday at 2 p.m. … Hollidaysburg visits Central Mountain next Tuesday night, when Altoona will also host Westmont Hilltop in a match that will be held at the Altoona Area Junior High School gymnasium.

106-Huff, H, tech. fall Bryan, 18-2, 2:34. 113-Bowser, H, maj. dec. Querry, 13-0. 120-Kociola, H, won by forfeit. 126-Hagg, H, won by forfeit. 132-Colton Walls, H, pinned Bender, 2:53. 138-Rodgers, A, dec. Tuscano, 11-4. 145-Hollingshead, A, won by forfeit.

152-Brandt, A, pinned Calob Walls, 1:14. 160-Knode, A, dec. Wolk, 6-2. 170-Kephart, A, pinned Servello, :50. 182-McCarthy, A, pinned Bilofsky, 5:14. 195-Barnes, A, pinned Lanzendorfer, 1:08. 220-Scheinberg, A, pinned Pulcine, 3:33. 285-Barton, H, dec. Rosenberry, 7-3.

Records: Altoona (7-9); Hollidaysburg (2-6).

Official: Dick Wood.