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Forfeit victories help Mountain Lions over P-O

The Altoona Area High School wrestling team has started its dual meet season with four straight victories, but Thursday night’s 44-23 win over outmanned Philipsburg-Osceola at the Altoona High Fieldhouse came with a bit of an asterisk attached.

P-O (0-5) has customarily been forfeiting six or seven weight classes in each of its duals this season, and the Mounties surrendered 36 points on six forfeits Thursday night.

In the seven matches that were actually contested, Philipsburg-Osceola won five, but leaving half a dozen weight classes open will almost certainly cost a team a loss in a dual meet.

“I have mixed emotions,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “All of our kids competed hard tonight, but we didn’t finish (most) matches well. There’s definitely room for improvement.”

Altoona celebrated its senior night in its first home dual meet of the season Thursday, and one of the Mountain Lions’ seniors honored in a pre-match ceremony, 152-pounder Adam Zerbee, came up big, improving his season record to 4-0 with an efficient 8-0 major decision over P-O junior Luke Hughes.

Zerbee built a 3-0 lead after two periods with an escape and takedown in the second period, before reeling off a takedown and 3-point near fall in the third.

“I thought I did all right,” Zerbee said. “I got off to a slow start in the first period, but then I started to pick it up a little better.”

Altoona’s other winner in a contested match was junior Will Young, who logged a 10-0 major over P-O junior Jimmy Richtseheit at 160 on the strength of three takedowns and a 3-point near fall.

“Adam Zerbee looked good, and Will Young looked good,” Gilbert said.

In the feature bout of the night, leading off the dual at 215 pounds, returning P-O Class 2A state medalist Parker Moore, a senior, trailed returning regional qualifier Colin Allmond, 3-2 after two periods. An early third-period flurry left the bout tied, 4-4, before Moore caught Allmond with a half-nelson to secure a pinning combination 47 seconds into the third period.

“We were right in that match until Colin got a little high on a spin-behind, and Moore reversed him to his back for the pin,” Gilbert said.

Another returning PO state medalist, Hunter Weitoish, built up a 14-3 lead in the 172-pound bout before pinning Altoona senior Austin Kravetz 24 seconds into the third period.

Other P-O winners included freshman Marcus Gable, who logged a 17-2, 5:25 technical fall over junior Jordan Carlucci at 120, junior Nick Coudriet, who gutted out an 11-7 verdict over sophomore Caleb Fasick at 126, and junior Austin Foster, who doubled up Altoona senior Damion Finnegan, 8-4 at 138.

What P-O lacks in quantity, the Mounties try to make up for in quality. But the forfeits have been crippling.

P-O coach Brad Pataky was a former standout at Penn State on the college level and at Clearfield on the high school level.

Pataky attributes the low numbers to the intense demands of the sport of wrestling, coupled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even without COVID, it’s been tough for smaller Class 2A schools to field a full lineup,” Pataky said. “There are multiple reasons. Wrestling is a really tough sport, and it takes a rare individual to want to participate in and commit to wrestling.

“But any time the kids we do have step out on the mat, they’re giving 110 percent,” Pataky added. “That’s how they practice and that’s how they compete in the matches.”

Altoona got forfeit victories from Trevor Manley (285), Dillon DeGennaro (106), Eli Wisor (113), Wyatt Young (132), Matt Bowser (145), and Josh Keirn (189).

Meet notes: Seniors honored with their parents before the match included wrestlers Zerbee, Manley, Finnegan, Bowser, Keirn, Allmond, Brady Shehan, and Graham Black, along with team manager Gabby Holliday … Another senior standout, three-time district and regional champion Matt Sarbo, missed the match for reasons that Gilbert did not disclose. “He’s out right now – that’s all I’m going to say,” Gilbert said. “He should be back next week.” …. Altoona hosts its Big 7 Conference Tournament Saturday at the Fieldhouse.

215–Moore, PO, pinned Allmond, 4:47. 285–Manley, A, won by forfeit. 106–DeGennaro, A, won by forfeit. 11-3–Wisor, A, won by forfeit. 120–Gable, PO, tech. fall Carlucci, 17-2, 5:25. 126–Coudriet, PO, dec.Fasick, 11-7. 132–Wyatt Young, A, won by forfeit.

138–Foster, PO, dec. Finnegan, 8-4. 145–Bowser, A, won by forfeit. 152–Zerbee, A, maj.dec. Hughes, 8-0. 160–Will Young, A, maj.dec.Richtseheit, 10-0. 172–Weitoish, PO, pinned Kravetz, 4:24. 189–Keirn, A, won by forfeit.

Official: Jack Pensyl.

Exhibition matches: Logan Brandt, A, major decision; Michael Riccio, A, fall.

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