Bearcats sweep toss-ups

HUNTINGDON — Looking at the matchups before once-beaten teams Altoona and Huntingdon wrestled Thursday under the spotlight at the darkened Huntingdon gymnasium, the key appeared to be the early toss-up bouts.

As it turned, that’s exactly how the dual meet between the Mountain Lions, ranked third in the Mirror rankings, and the second-ranked Bearcats played out.

Of the first seven bouts, six of them could have been classified as toss-ups, and the now 11-1 Bearcats won all six, including Ryder Kocik’s pin to start the meet at 182 and Brady Shope’s 5-0 overtime win over David Hess at 285, en route to a 34-23 win over the Lions.

“I think we wrestled very well,” Huntingdon coach Jon Mykut said. “Altoona is a quality team, have a lot of good, solid kids. I thought we came out from the start and kind of took off for a little bit. That kind of set the tone for the night. I’ll be quite honest, normally I can sit down and figure out what bouts we were going to get and what bouts they were going to get, and I thought there were so many toss-ups, I wasn’t sure how to score most of those.”

“They won the close ones tonight, and they were dominant on their feet,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said after his team slipped to 8-2. “They’re a good wrestling team. We have a ways to go to get to where they’re at. We lost five in a row (from 220 to 120) that we thought could have been toss-ups, so when you go 0-5 in the tossup bouts, it’s tough to win a dual meet against a good wrestling team.”

Two of the most anticipated bouts later on also went the Bearcats’ way. Tyler Scott beat Jerrell Kephart, 9-4, at 138 in a matchup of last year’s District 6 2A Outstanding Wrestler and the District 6 3A Outstanding Wrestler. State champion Jacob Oliver earned a physical 9-1 major decision of returning Northwest Regional champ Brinton Simington at 170. More on those later.

Kocik and Altoona’s Jeremy Reed started out with a scoreless first period, but Kocik hit a headlock from the bottom position to reverse Reed to his back in the end second period. The end came in 3:07.

“I felt pretty good after that,” Kocik said. “I was pretty nervous, I’m not going to lie. I think (the pin) was pretty key, but I paid more attention to the team’s effort at the end.”

After Altoona’s top-ranked 195-pounder Parker McClellan won by fall, Huntingdon’s Landon Fisher earned an 8-2 win over Nate Simmers at 220. Fisher led, 4-1, entering the third, where he reversed Simmers to his back for four points.

The heavyweights went to the overtime period scoreless, but Shope took Hess down to his back with about 20 seconds left in OT to win.

“He’s been wrestling more like a heavyweight this year,” Mykut said. “A couple years ago, he would have gotten in a tussle out there and either landed on top or on the bottom and either got six or given six.”

Altoona’s Brendan McCulley scored the opening takedown against Roland Mills at 106, but Mills reversed with 7 seconds left in the first period, escaped in the third and added a takedown in the third to win, 5-2.

At 113, Huntingdon’s Caden Reamer survived getting penalized three times by referee John Edgell, once for unsportsmanlike conduct and twice for interlocking hands, to beat Dylan Benz, 5-4.

The tossup at 120 turned out to be a runaway for Chandler Lauer as he rolled up a 9-0 lead on Branden Thompkins before cradling him for the fall in 2:54, giving the Bearcats a 24-6 lead at the halfway point.

“All three of those guys down at the bottom have been plugging away at it,” Mykut said. “We’ve got to work with Caden on locking hands, but he went out and went after it. Those guys have taken their lumps this year. They’re three freshmen who are working hard in the practice room, and I can see them turning the corner.”

At 126, Altoona’s Hunter Hileman stopped the run with a 6-0 win over Izac Benson, scoring two takedowns and a reversal. Altoona’s Cole Manley, in his second bout after his return to the lineup, rang up a 21-5 technical fall over Jacob Wagner in 4:39.

“Hunter Hileman looked really tough out there,” Gilbert said. “Benson is very good, been around for along time. I think Hunter controlled just about every position.”

That set the stage for Kephart and Scott, who tangled in an entertaining bout. Scott scored the first takedown out of a flurry, but Kephart slipped out of a cradle attempt for a reversal to tie the score in the first. Scott scored three nearfall points in the second, but Kephart reversed to make it 5-4.

Scott escaped and took a 6-4 lead into the third. Scott escaped with 57 seconds left in the bout and took Kephart down 14 seconds later to set the final score.

“Tyler has been wrestling great,” Mykut said. “Like last year, his competition has been through the roof, so his record may not be as good as some other guys, but he’s been wrestling a lot of good, tough kids.”

“Jerrell Kephart was in that match. He just turned the wrong way two or three times and he gave up some back points,” Gilbert said. “You can’t do that against good kids. Scott made him pay the price.”

At 145, Altoona’s Kobe Harr spladled Trent Shaffer in the first period for five points and cruised to a 6-2 win.

Mountain Lion 152-pounder Haden Boutiller had a 2-0 lead on Andrew Finkle when Finkle took him down with 34 seconds left in the bout. Finkle was called for interlocking hands, so he released Boutiller and took him down with a second left in the bout to force overtime. Boutiller immediately took Finkle down to his back in overtime and pinned him 9 seconds into the extra period.

Suddenly, the Lions were within four points, 27-23, but Huntingdon returning state placewinner Seth Baney locked up the dual meet win with an 8-2 decision over Hunter Stoudnour at 160.

Oliver took a 2-1 lead over Simington into the third period, but the Bearcat senior turned it up a notch. He escaped and took Simington down for a 5-1 lead, and got a stalling point before Simington took an injury timeout for his shoulder. Edgell assessed a penalty point for cursing, and Oliver scored two late nearfall points to get the major decision.

“Jake is just a very physical wrestler,” Mykut said. “He’s heavy-handed, and he just wore that kid out. Simington is a big, strong kid. Late in the match, Jake was able to get to his offense.”

“Simington ran into a horse,” Gilbert said. “Jake Oliver is one of the best in the country for a reason. If Simington wants to get to get that level of a guy like Jake Oliver, he’s going to have to get used to these types of matches.”

182–Kocik, H, pinned Reed, 3:07; 195–McClellan, A, pinned Mykut, 2:43; 220–Fisher, H, dec. Simmers, 8-2; 285–Shope, H, dec. Hess, 5-0 OT; 106–Mills, H, dec. McCulley, 5-2; 113–Reamer, H, dec. Benz, 5-4; 120–Lauer, H, pinned Thompkins, 2:54.

126–Hileman, A, dec. Benson, 6-0; 132–Manley, A, tech. fall Wagner, 21-5, 4:39; 138–Scott, H, dec. Kephart, 9-4; 145–Harr, A, dec. Shaffer, 6-2; 152–Boutiller, A, pinned Finkle, 6:09 OT; 160–Baney, H, dec. Stoudnour, 8-2; 170–Oliver, H, maj. dec. Simington, 9-1.

Records: Altoona (8-2); Huntingdon (11-1)

Exhibition winners: Wagner, A, tech. fall 15-0, 3:42; Zook, H, dec. 7-2; Rhone, H, pin 2:27; Stumpf, A, pin 4:12.

Referee: John Edgell