Young, Peace lead Chucks to fourth-place finish
BROOKVILLE — Led by the first-place performances of Kaleb Young and Troy Peace, the Punxsy junior-high wrestling team finished one spot shy of a team award at Brookville's two-day "Pow-Wow in the 'Ville" Tournament last Friday and Saturday.
Of the 11 teams that competed, Punxsy finished in fourth place, just missing out on the final team plaque, which was earned by third-place Brookville.
"We were hoping for third, but considering what we saw there, fourth is still pretty good," Punxsy head coach Bill Burke said. "We're pretty happy with our overall performance considering the stiff competition that was there."
Butler ran away with the team title and was followed by Connellsville West. Finishing behind Punxsy in fifth was Brockway, and Clarion, Cranberry, DuBois, Fort LeBoeuf, Keystone and Saegertown also competed.
"We knew Connellsville would be tough, but found out quickly that Butler was a powerhouse. They had several top-notch wrestlers," Burke said. "Both Connellsville and Brookville have very nice teams, as well. We're certainly going to have our hands full with Brookville (Feb. 3 in Punxsutawney)."
Friday, each weight class was divided into "Olympic Style" pools where everyone wrestled each other in his or her pool. Saturday, each wrestler was seeded into a bracket based on his or her performance from Friday. Saturday was double-elimination, with the top four wrestlers receiving individual awards.
Both Young and Peace were first-place finishers, while Eli Lambiotte, Darin James and Perry Arrington grabbed third place, and Andrew Bullers took fourth.
In all, 24 Chucks wrestled, with 22 of them competing in at least six bouts during the two-day tournament.
"Even though it was a long two days and very competitive, one nice thing about this tournament was that all of our wrestlers had the chance to compete, giving those that usually don't see a lot of action some time on the mats," Burke said.
Young, who split Punxsy's team Wrestler of the Week honors with two other grapplers, improved to 16-0 during his seventh-grade season by finishing 3-0 Friday and 3-0 Saturday at 105 pounds. He concluded the tournament with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Saegertown's Tyler Vath in Saturday's final.
"It was a close one, but he wrestled smart and tough to pick up the win and the title," Burke said.
Peace lost a bout Friday, but he bounced back to go undefeated Saturday. During a 7-1 tournament, Peace (16-3) won at 210 pounds.
Peace, another one of Punxsy's Wrestlers of the Week, also needed a one-point decision — 1-0 over Butler's Taylor Flick — to win his weight class.
"Flick handed Troy his only loss Friday, but he did a nice job and got his revenge in the finals Saturday," Burke said. "This was a really big weekend for him."
Lambiotte (13-4) led Punxsy's trio of third-place finishers with a 7-1 weekend at 90 pounds. His only loss — a 6-4 overtime defeat to Fort LeBoeuf's Jarret Carter, who finished in second place — came in the semifinals Saturday.
"Eli Lambiotte had an exceptional tournament," Burke said. "Even though they knew it was coming, many couldn't stop his cradle."
James (11-3) took third at 110 pounds, with 3-1 days Friday and Saturday to finish 6-2 during the tournament.
"We saw some great stuff from him," Burke said. "This was probably the best I've ever seen him wrestle."
Arrington, an eighth-grader, suffered the second loss of his junior-high career when he lost to Brookville's Dalton Zimmerman in the semifinals Saturday. Zimmerman went on to win the 130-pound championship and was also voted the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
Arrington (16-2) finished 7-1 over the weekend, pulling out a win in the consolation final during the final seconds.
Punxsy's final place-finisher was Bullers, who was fourth at 95 pounds. Bullers (5-10) went 0-3 Friday and 1-2 Saturday.
"Andrew Bullers fell into a nice spot in his bracket, allowing him to finish fourth after a rough night Friday," Burke said.
At 145 pounds, Punxsy's Jeff Bottenhorn didn't place, but his performance Friday helped him split Punxsy's Wrestler of the Week honors with Young and Peace. Bottenhorn (7-9) went 3-0 Friday before a 1-2 Saturday.
"Obviously, Kaleb and Troy earned it due to their outstanding performance, but we were also very pleased with the way Jeff wrestled in just his second year," Burke said. "Even though he didn't place, he did a fantastic job by winning his pool Friday. He also wrestled very well Saturday, just falling a bit short to two much more experienced wrestlers."
A number of Punxsy wrestlers competed, but did not place. The following is each wrestler, along with his or her weight class, record during the tournament and record on the season:
Zoie Smith (75 pounds, 1-6, 6-11), Jacob Benton (90, 0-6, 1-9), Ryan Jones (100, 4-4, 9-9), Tristen Herndon (105, 0-2, 1-5), Johnathon Koper (110, 0-6, 2-9), Stephanie Smith (110, 3-5, 7-9), Matt Burke (115, 1-2, 8-4), Jaydon Grusky (122, 6-3, 14-3), Levi Campbell (122, 3-4, 5-7), Harry Batley (122, 1-6, 3-8), Connor Rees (122, 0-5, 2-7), Brett Starr (130, 1-5, 1-5), Logan Rend (138, 4-3, 9-8), Keegan Fischer (155, 2-4, 11-5), Travis Perry (165, 6-2, 12-5), Chad Barnes (165, 0-6, 0-11) and Austin Covatch (185, 0-5, 2-14).
Both Herndon and Burke competed only Friday, with an injury holding Burke back from wrestling Saturday.
After competing during four of five days from Tuesday to Saturday last week, the Chucks will return to the mats when they host Ridgway at 6 p.m. Thursday.