CLEARFIELD — The Punxsutawney varsity wrestling team knew heading into Clearfield Wednesday night that it would be challenged at every weight and would be in for a tough night, and that's exactly what the Chucks got.
The Bisons were too powerful down the lineup, earning a 48-17 victory over the Chucks (1-1), a victory that may seem lopsided, but for Punxsy head coach Eric Eddy, a loss that had plenty of upside.
"I thought the guys wrestled well tonight," Eddy said. "I was happy overall with the performance. I wasn't disappointed. Clearfield has done a lot more wrestling to this point in the season than we have. Their kids have records with seven matches, and this was only our second match tonight."
The night started with perhaps the match of the night, a rematch of last year's district title bout at 130 pounds between Punxsy's Neko Capella and Nolan Barger.
Barger got the best of Capella last year at districts, and once again held the upper hand Wednesday with a 4-2 victory over Capella.
Barger fell behind after Capella earned a takedown to go up 2-0 in the first period. Barger escpaed before the period ended to make it 2-1 heading into the second.
In that second period, Barger escaped to start and took Cappella down to make it 4-2 before Barger rode Capella out the rest of the way for the win.
"It was a back and forth match, just like those guys have wrestled in the past," Eddy said. "I think Neko has closed the gap on Barger. I'll be eager to see what he can do between now and the end of the year."
At 135 pounds, Punxsy's Caesar Maruca fell to Troy Danver, 8-0, in a match where the score didn't indicate just how close the match was.
Reversal and near-fall points at the end of the third period turned a 3-0 match into an 8-0 match.
"Caesar was trying to make something happen," Eddy said. "It was a good match."
Seth Spack followed for Punxsy at 140 pounds where he took care of Max VonGuden, 5-0.
"Seth controlled the match, knew what VonGuden's game plan was, and he followed through with what he needed to do," Eddy said.
At 160 pounds, Nathan McGregor pinned Clearfield's Curtis Owens at 2:24 to cut into Clearfield's lead, 19-8.
Derek Kerr lost in a 9-1 major decision at 171 pounds to Clearfield's Derek Danver in the following bout, but Eddy said that Kerr was strong throughout the match against one of the best wrestlers around.
"Kerr did an excellent job the entire match. Danver is one of the top 171-pounders in our region, if not the state," Eddy said. "He is a strong wrestler and a real strong athlete, and Derek did a nice job with him, so I was happy there."
Tige Woodson was next up for Punxsy at 189 pounds, earning a win over Jacob Verchick, 6-3.
"Tige wrestled well," Eddy said. "It was a struggle at first and was a back and forth battle. Tige got taken down initially, and was fighting back form a 2-0 deficit, but fought back and controlled the match."
Following a forfeit at 215 pounds, Punxsy's Tyler Titus bumped up to heavyweight to take on Jordan Lancaster.
In the match, Lancaster had the upper hand and earned a 9-3 victory.
"From 130 to heavyweight, I wasn't disappointed with anybody," Eddy said.
"Even though we had a real quick pin where Duell Thompson was taken down in a match that was 17 seconds, it was one of those things that was over before it started. Shane Harper got an excellent shot on him and just jumped on him. It's real hard to take much away from that match because he got caught. It could happen to anybody."
By the time the dual meet reached the lightweights, Punxsy trailed 32-11, and though the Chucks didn't have many points left in them, some young wrestlers showed nice signs of improvement as the meet went on.
At 103 pounds, Josh Shuckers was pinned by Clearfield's Shane Peters in the first period at 1:13, followed by a Christian Stone 17-5 win over Punxsy's Joel Bowers at 112 pounds to push the Bisons ahead 42-11.
"Stone was a defending regional champion, and Bowers wrestled him real well," Eddy said. "It was another one that got out of hand near the end. Joel gave up five near-fall points to take a 12-5 match to a 17-5 match in the last 20 seconds. A lot of those points were scored at the end in a desperation moment."
At 119 pounds, Devan Snyder picked up a pin fall victory at 3:30 to cut the lead to 42-17 before Anthony Pascuzzo bumped up to 125 and lost by pin fall at 5:45.
Punxsy returns to the mat when it travels to Wheeling, W.Va. Dec. 28.