With memories of last year’s loss to Redbank Valley in the District 9 Class AA Dual Meet Championship still fresh in its minds, the Brookville Raiders wrestling team left the DuBois Area High School gymnasium much more satisfied this time around.
Saturday afternoon, the Raiders took care of business with a 39-26 win over the defending champion Bulldogs in what evolved into the district title match since both had beaten Kane earlier in the day in this year’s three-team round-robin format.
Brookville, ranked No. 4 in the latest Off the Mat Rankings, takes an 18-2 record into this week’s PIAA Championships starting with a first-round match with District 2 champion Western Wayne Thursday at the Giant Center.
Raiders head coach Dave Klepfer was certainly waiting for this year’s dual tournament in DuBois, along with his team of course.
“We had a lot of heartbroken kids last year and coaches too,” Klepfer said. “When you think you’re good enough to win it — and they proved they were better than us on three occasions — but when you come up just short, it’s motivation.
“I’ve had a picture of Coach Kundick (celebrating Bulldogs dual title) on my phone for the last year and I put it on the big screen during practice so they had a nice reminder and it’s not that they needed it. There are a handful of kids where that stung last year and it did until about 20 minutes ago.
“I’m just real happy for them. It’s an awesome group that works really hard.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs get to host their first-ever state dual meet Monday night against District 10’s third-place finisher Greenville starting at 7 p.m.
“We have an opportunity (to get to states) and that’s what we wanted,” Bulldogs head coach Mike Kundick said. “We’ll take this loss and get ready for Monday night and hopefully we’ll win it and be down there with Brookville.”
Saturday’s match started at 170 pounds, which was where Klepfer and the Raiders didn’t mind beginning since they’d have three state qualifiers manning spots in the final four bouts of the match from 138 to 160.
From there, the Raiders needed to minimize Bulldogs bonus-point wins in spots and that’s exactly what happened. At 170, heavily favored Brodie Zacherl decked Devin Schimp in 19 seconds to get Brookville rolling and Jimmy Miller came up with a big pin of the Bulldogs’ Kaven Hornberger with 12 seconds left in their bout that Miller was leading 7-2 at the time.
“He had a really nice day,” Klepfer said of Miller. “He had a nice win against the Kane kid. You’re asking a lot for someone to really go up three weight classes and he’s one of those kids who are unselfish for the team and it really paid off for him today.
“He and Brodie got us started off real well.”
The 12-0 start for Brookville offset Redbank Valley’s answer in the heavyweights as Brylee Shumaker accepted the Raiders’ usual forfeit at 195 and Cal Haines notched a workmanlike 7-1 decision over Bryce Town in one of the more anticipated bouts of the match.
“That was a big win for Cal,” Kundick said. “He did a fantastic job. That match was built up all year and he was solid. He dominated the match and wrestled fantastic.”
Bulldogs heavyweight Ben Carrillo used a third-period reversal to beat the Raiders’ Nate Nosker, 2-1, in a bout where Redbank Valley had hoped to score some bonus points.
Then back at the top of the lineup, the Raiders got a pleasant surprise from freshman Gavin Park in his bonus-point win over Ryan Kube in a 12-1 major decision at 106.
“For a freshman, he understands what we’re trying to do as a team and he works hard,” Klepfer said. “That was big there. We didn’t expect (bonus points). You never know what you’ll get from a freshman and he showed up in a big way today.”
Park’s win gave the Raiders a 16-12 advantage with plenty of ammunition remaining. Tate Ortz needed 11 seconds to pin Scott Drenning at 113 to put Brookville up 22-12.
The Bulldogs won two of the next three bouts with state-ranked Willie Gruver grinding out a 3-1 win over another state-ranked wrestler Cole Aaron. Gruver was No. 5 while Aaron was No. 16.
At 126, Cole Clever dominated Kolbin Altobelli with an 18-3 technical fall to give the Raiders a 27-15 lead with five bouts left.
Tanner Altobelli tried to keep the Bulldogs in the match with a 26-11 technical fall over Devin Joiner, but Brookville answered with three straight wins from the state-ranked trio of Dalton Zimmerman, Brock Zacherl and Zach Vroman.
Zimmerman, No. 8 at 132, built a 4-1 lead in the first period on his way to a 5-1 win over Luke Gallo at 138 and Brock Zacherl clinched the match mathematically with a 57-second pin of Colton Mohney at 145 to put the Raiders up 36-20 with two bouts left.
Vroman, ranked No. 3 at 152, topped the Bulldogs’ Mitch Blose, 7-1 at 152 for the Raiders’ final win.
Redbank Valley got a second-period pin from Keshon Truitt over Dane Clever to close the match at 160.
In the end, the Raiders won 8 of 14 bouts and outscored the Bulldogs, 16-8, in bonus points.
“It’s the thing we preach every day in practice, scoring on the edge, at the end of periods and getting bonus points. And in dual meets, especially when you’re giving up a forfeit and being down 6-0 before every match, you have to make points up,” Klepfer said. “It’s something we’ll stress moving forward to Hershey. You have to do it. You have to score bonus points when you have two evenly matched teams.”
Kundick didn’t disagree.
“Bonus points is what hurt us, both ways,” Kundick said. “We didn’t get some we wanted to get and they got some we wished they didn’t get.”
In the earlier matches:
Redbank Valley 47,
The Bulldogs set the tone earlier with big wins from Jake Hopper in the opening bout with a technical fall at 152. Keshon Truitt followed with a 5-3 win at 160.
From there, the Bulldogs got wins from Kaven Hornberger (pin) at 182, Cal Haines (pin) at 220, Ben Carrillo (pin) at heavyweight), Scott Drenning (forfeit) at 106 and Willie Gruver, whose pin of Seth Woolcock at 120 clinched the win to put the Bulldogs up 38-13 with four bouts remaining.
The Bulldogs and Wolves split the four remaining bouts. Cody Blankenship pinned Kolbin Altobelli at 126 and Darren Brown outlasted Tanner Altobelli in a 6-3 sudden victory win at 132.
For Redbank Valley, Luke Gallo decisioned Justin Westerburg, 8-2, at 138 and Mitch Blose won a forfeit at 145.
Brookville 55, Kane 18
The Raiders won every bout on the mat while forfeiting three bouts to the Wolves, two of them to their top wrestlers Cody Blankenship and Evan Delong.
Two of the highlight wins for the Raiders came in decisions as Jimmy Miller decisioned Nate Moore, 4-3, at 182, and Cole Clever was solid in a 6-2 win over Darren Brown at 132.
Other Raiders wins came from Nate Nosker (pin) at heavyweight, Tate Ortz (pin) at 113, Cole Aaron (pin) at 120, Brodie Zacherl (technical fall) at 160, Dalton Zimmerman (technical fall) at 138 and Bryce Town (decision) at 220.
Kane forfeited three bouts to the Raiders at 106, 145 and 152 pounds.