BROOKVILLE — Pausing to commemorate their dream season, the Brookville Raiders wrestlers hung three championship banners prior to Tuesday night’s match with longtime rival Ridgway.
Banners representing the PIAA Class AA Dual Meet and Tournament champs, and their 132-pound champion Taylor Ortz were dropped down in front of a big crowd at Brookville Area High School’s gymnasium.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” Raiders head coach Dave Klepfer said. “Dropping one banner, you have to feel pretty good about where your program is at. We had a lot of celebrations last year, but this was the first time we’ve been in our gym for a competition, had a big crowd and it was nice to recognize those guys and their accomplishments.”
And after a slow start with two close losses, the Raiders got revved up and handled the Elkers in a 51-13 win, hiking their record to 7-0 going into what looks to be a very tough matchup with Falconer, N.Y., at home Thursday in a varsity-only match starting at 6 p.m.
Against the Elkers, the Raiders won seven of 11 bouts contested — they earned forfeits at 182 and 195 — and scored bonus points in all seven of those wins.
“I thought the guys wrestled pretty hard,” Klepfer said. “It’s not that we’re not making technical mistakes, it’s more for me that I feel that guys are outhustling us at this point of the year I told the guys first week that we’ll probably lose a couple of bouts early in the year bec of conditioning because I’m not focusing on that but more on the technical side. Getting in shape will come by the end of the year, so if you’re OK sacrificing a couple of wins early. That should be OK and it’ll happen in some cases.
“I didn’t feel we didn’t hustle back to the center enough, but overall I thought we wrestled pretty well. You can’t be disappointed with a 51-13 outcome.”
In a match that began at 138 pounds, the Elkers notched two wins to start the night. Lucas McClain edged Kai Sorbin, 7-5, in overtime. Sorbin led 5-2 going into the third period before McClain rallied, getting the tying takedown with 45 seconds left.
Almost escaping at the end of regulation, Sorbin got taken down by McClain with 20 seconds left in the first 60-second takedown period.
Logan McClain, ranked No. 21 in the latest papowerwrestling.com state rankings, beat Dontae Constable, 7-4, to put the Elkers up 6-0 after 145 pounds, but from there, it was almost all Raiders.
Senior first-year starter Josh Keesecker was dominant in his 19-4 technical fall of Elkers freshman Damon Kelly at 152 pounds.
“I thought Keesecker wrestled really well, a senior getting a chance to get in there and he was rewarded there with the Clint Puller Award,” Puller said.
Junior Caleb Hetrick, ranked No. 6 in the state, majored Jonathan Francis 18-6 at 160 and Clayton Peace pinned another Elkers freshman Robert Briggs in 4:36 at 170.
Noah Cieleski and Xavier Molnar receive forfeits at 182 and 195. Both are state-ranked, Cieleski No. 6 and Molnar No. 20.
Another ranked Raider, junior Tylor Cook who is No. 5 at 220, needed just 76 seconds to pin Hunter Kos.
The Elkers’ ranked heavyweight Colton McClain, No. 9 in the state, majored Tanner LaBenne 11-0.
The Raiders won third of the final four bouts with second-period pins. Freshman Parker Fleming pinned Gary Emerick at 106, No. 3-ranked Keelan Kunselman pinned Luke Tomaski at 120 and Gavin Park at 126.
Park, ranked No. 3 in the state at 126, ran over No. 24-ranked and returning regional qualifier Bryce Barclay. He was leading Barclay 15-3 before pinning him in 3:21.
“Gavin just beat up on a good kid, someone who was in the regional semifinals last year,” Klepfer said. “To build a 15-3 lead and then pin him, that is what we’re expecting out of out athlete. He looked to score points and was on a mission.
“He knew he had a good kid, one of their best, and it’s something where Gavin has bought into that, he’s one of our captains, and we need our younger guys to follow that lead. Thats what we’re expecting out of them.”
The Elkers got a 7-2 win from junior Kyle Bush over Cabe Park at 113. Bush is ranked No. 15.
After Thursday’s match against Falconer, the Raiders are off until their annual trip to the Powerade Invitational held at Canon-McMillan High School next Wednesday through Friday.
Last Thursday’s match at Punxsutawney was postponed to Feb. 15.
— Junior high roundup:
In the preceding junior high match, the Raiders faced a Ridgway team featuring just five wrestlers and won all four of the contested bouts in a 51-6 win.
Bryce Kunselman, Wyatt Kulik and Elliot Park won with pins while Cayden Walter won a 5-3 decision. Griffen Wolfe won with a pin in an exhibition bout.
In last week’s opener against Clarion, the Raiders also won against a short-handed Bobcats squad, 42-8. They split their four bouts on the mat with Cayden Walter and Wyatt Kulik winning with pins. Bryce Kunselman (pin) and Cody Hetrick (decision) won exhibition bouts.