NEW BETHLEHEM — With 16 teams getting on the mat for five matches apiece, it was a busy day at last Saturday’s Redbank Valley Christmas Tournament.
Nine District 9 teams, including area teams in host Redbank Valley, Brockway, Curwensville and Clarion all had solid days with Brockway going a perfect 5-0 with wins over Mercer (45-22), Marion Center (57-24), Slippery Rock (41-36), Youngsville (66-9) and Punxsutawney (45-19).
The host Bulldogs finished 4-1, dropping their opener to Conneaut (37-29) but rebounding with wins over Mercer (41-27), Marion Center (52-24), Slippery Rock (42-39) and Youngsville (66-18).
Curwensville was 3-2 going into its final match. The Tide edged Punxsutawney (36-33), routed Keystone (60-12) and Brashear (54-9) before losing to Conneaut (56-24) and Mercer.
Clarion had its perfect day denied in its final match in a 45-30 loss to Conneaut, which also finished 5-0, and wound up with a 4-1 record. The Bobcats started with lopsided wins over Youngsville (54-18), Punxsutawney (39-24), Keystone (54-6) and Brashear (51-12).
Other D9 teams in action were Kane (5-0), Keystone (0-5), Oswayo Valley (2-3), Punxsutawney (1-4) and Smethport (2-3).
There weren’t any key matchups among the D9 teams, who mostly wrestle each other later on the schedule. Most of the day’s matches had plenty of pins and forfeits, especially with Keystone, Youngsville and Brashear bringing small lineups.
The Rovers’ tightest match of the day came against Slippery Rock. Trailing 36-35 going into the final bout at 113 pounds, the Rovers got a 26-second pin from Dominic Inzana to secure the win.
For the Bulldogs, they notched 18 forfeit wins in their five matches while giving up six. They owned a 17-13 advantage in bouts decided by pins.
“The first match we weren’t ready and we lost it for no reason except for sloppy wrestling,” Bulldogs head coach Mike Kundick said. “The second match against Mercer, we wrestled better and the final three we got some forfeit wins, but as a whole the kids wrestled good.”
The Bulldogs had four 5-0 wrestlers with Mason Songer, Brayden Altobelli, Aiden Gardner and Logan Minich. Songer finished with four pins and a forfeit while the other three had a more breezy day with Altobelli and Gardner each picking up three forfeits. Minich had four forfeit wins and a 44-second pin.
“We have to keep working and the kids have to start practicing harder,” Kundick added. “And they have to be good practice partners for their teammates, because what you do in the room goes to the mat. If you don’t practice hard in the room, it’ll show in the matches, plain and simple.”
Also for the Bulldogs, Hudson Martz was 4-1, Trenton Rupp and Josh Smith were 3-2. Coltin Bartley and Bryan Layton finished 2-1 with Layton notching a 10-second pin. Noah Anderson was 2-2 while Hunter Martz and Caleb Snyder were 2-3. Kobe Bonanno was 1-4 with Owen Shaffer finishing 0-4.
Here’s a closer look at the Bulldogs’ matches, in order they were wrestled:
Conneaut 37, Bulldogs 29
Against the Class 3A team from District 10, the Bulldogs trailed 31-29 going into the final bout at heavyweight before Owen Shaffer was pinned in the second period.
The Bulldogs led 14-6 after four bouts with Trenton Rupp’s major decision at 106, Mason Songer’s pin at 120 and Brayden Altobelli’s major at 126.
Hudson Martz edged Trevor Tursky, 8-7, at 170 but Conneaut got a 2-0 win from Evan Gerber of Kobe Bonanno at 182 to take a 31-17 lead and essentially a two-point lead going into the final bout at heavyweight with Conneaut giving up forfeits to Logan Minich and Aiden Gardner at 195 and 220.
John Patterson pinned Shaffer 51 seconds into the second period to clinch the win for Conneaut.
Bulldogs 41, Mercer 27
The Bulldogs won four of the final six bouts to get by the Mustangs for their first win of the day. The Bulldogs led 26-21 before finishing strong with Logan Minich’s pin at 195, Aiden Gardner’s 6-1 at 220 and Trenten Rupp’s forfeit win at 106 to finish the match.
Earlier, the Bulldogs jumped out to an 18-0 lead with a forfeit win and pins by Mason Songer and Brayden Altobelli at 120 and 126. Noah Anderson had a pin at 152 and Hudson Martz won a wild 12-10 decision at 170.
“Hudson is young and a freshman and has a lot to learn, but he has a lot of potential,” Kundick said. “I’m looking for a lot of good things to happen and they’re going to come. Those eight freshmen are going to get better. They’re going to take their licks until they do.”
Bulldogs 52, Marion Center 24
Taking advantage of five forfeits and three pins, the Bulldogs took care of the visiting Stingers.
Caleb Snyder, Coltin Bartley and Hudson Martz had pins in a Bulldogs stretch of four straight wins on the mat between 145 and 170. Bryan Layton earned a 16-8 major decision at 160.
The teams split their eight bouts on the mat, 4-4.
Slippery Rock 39
Mason Songer’s 23-second pin of Destan Hoober in the next-to-last bout at 113 secured the win for the Bulldogs, who took advantage of three forfeit wins while giving one up against the Rockets.
Hunter Martz picked up his first win of the day with a first-period pin at 132 as part of a Bulldogs run that saw them lead 24-12 after six bouts.
“Hunter Martz wrestled every tough kid on the teams we wrestled today because we had to move him up,” Kundick said. “He wrestled great, but he was up a weight class for the team. His record was very misleading He wrestled good. We have so many good lightweights, so someone has to move up or someone is going to sit.”
Coltin Bartley had a pin at 160, Logan Minich picked up a forfeit at 195 and Aiden Gardner needed just 22 seconds for a pin at heavyweight before Slippery Rock’s Nicholas Ayres beat Trenten Rupp 7-5 at 106 to get the Rocket’s within 36-33.
But Songer came through with his quick pin of Destan Hoober, offsetting Slippery Rock’s Ian Heitzenirator’s pin of Josh Smith at 120 to set the final.
Bulldogs 66, Youngsville 18
The Bulldogs accepted six forfeits while giving up one and went 5-2 in the seven bouts all decided by pins in their rout of the Eagles in their final match of the day.
Hunter Martz, Bryan Layton and Kobe Bonanno all pinned their foes in less than 40 seconds with Layton’s going just 10 seconds at 160. Trenten Rupp and Mason Songer had pins at 106 and 113.