PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsy wrestling team proved it is a squad that has more than one talented grappler Thursday night with a 51-21 victory over Curwensville in its first home match of the season.
The Chucks (6-6) fell behind 15-6 following the first-ever home loss of senior Kody Young before rallying off five-straight victories that carried into the decisive win.
Young (9-1), who was competing in his first home match since breaking the school record in career victories Dec. 28, 2010, was up against Curwensville's best wrestler in junior Jake Keller.
Young secured the first takedown, but Keller went on to score the 135-pound bout's final three points to pull off the 3-2 decision upset.
"He wrestled what I would call a perfect match. He didn't make any mistakes," Punxsy head coach Eric Eddy said of Keller. "I can't speak highly enough of the job they did coaching that match and the job Keller did wrestling it."
After Young went up 2-0 with a first-period takedown, he was able to ride Keller out for the remainder of the period. But as the second period was about to begin with Young on top, he decided to go neutral, meaning Keller was provided a point without having to escape.
Down 2-1, Keller scored his only takedown of the bout with 1:21 left in the second period, and for the rest of the match, Young couldn't escape or reverse the action.
"Against a good kid like that, you can't give up points," Eddy said. "Kody was disappointed in his performance; he knows it wasn't his best. But you can't take anything away from Keller."
After Keller was able to avoid any scoring by Young on the bottom for more than three minutes, Punxsy was behind 15-6 as a team after seeing its best grappler lose for the second time ever to a District IX opponent.
But the Chucks didn't seem shocked to see Young lose. Instead, they took care of their own business — one bout at a time. As much as it could have been easy for Eddy and the rest of the Chucks to fear the worst after Young lost, they didn't.
"I didn't, because that's just not the dynamic we have in the (practice) room," Eddy said. "The kids look to Kody to be a leader, but they look to Seth to be a leader, and they look to Neko to be a leader."
The comeback started with sophomore Caesar Maruca (5-6), who erased a 4-1 second-period deficit by downing Nathan Wriglesworth, 8-4. A second-period reversal and three back points put Maruca ahead 6-4 before a third-period takedown completed the win.
Following Maruca's huge win was junior Seth Spack (9-2), who pinned Austin Pollick in 1:38 at 145 pounds.
"I knew that Seth would get things going in the right direction, but Caesar came through for us huge," Eddy said. "As soon as Caesar won that match ... things were back in order."
With the match tied at 15, Punxsy took off, with Nathan McGregor (9-2) garnering a fall in 43 seconds before both Duell Thompson (7-4) and Carl Langley (5-5) won to provide the Chucks with a 24-point swing from 15-6 down to 30-15 ahead.
Much like Maruca, Thompson was behind 4-1 in the second period and was still behind by that margin entering the third when he scored eight-straight points and nearly pinned the Golden Tide's Hunter McCracken at 160 pounds.
An escape, takedown and five back points carried Thompson from the 4-1 deficit to 9-4 victory.
"Duell Thompson did a fantastic job battling from behind like he did to almost secure the pin fall," Eddy said. "And he needed one like that at home."
Langley was pouring on the points against Lewis Rhine — he led 7-0 after one period — before registering the fall at 2:43 during the 171-pound bout.
Both grapplers weighed in well under 171, making for an even bout after Langley has been outweighed at 171 all season but has had to bump up to that weight class due to a hole in Punxsy's lineup.
"He was wrestling a guy the same weight, and I really didn't have any doubt about the outcome going into that one," Eddy said about Langley.
Punxsy's Josh Neal (1-6) and Tige Woodson (5-6) also had to bump up to 189 and 215 pounds, respectively, with mixed results. Neal suffered a loss by fall to Kyle Kyler in 2:45, while Woodson pinned Chad Desmett in 3:01.
"He transitioned well and did real good things at 215," Eddy said about Woodson. "Again, it was at 215, and (getting a win is) just great."
Ahead 36-21, Tyler Titus (1-8) and Josh Schuckers (5-6) each won by forfeit before freshman Joel Bowers (7-3) completed the night with a 9-5 decision win over Tyler Mays.
In a back-and-forth bout that featured three reversals, Bowers was behind 2-0 before a reversal carried them into a 2-2 tie entering the second period.
With Mays on top to start the second period, both grapplers alternated a total of three reversals, which provided Bowers with a 6-4 advantage. After a penalty point in Mays' favor, Bowers recorded three back points as the buzzer sounded.
The match started with Punxsy sophomore Chelsea Engeholm's (0-2) first-ever home bout, which ended in a loss by pin in 2:42 to Greg Koptchak. She still battled while receiving a pair of points due to two illegal holds by Koptchak before losing by fall.
Devan Snyder (2-9) bumped up before losing by fall in 3:47 to Trey McKenzie to put the Tide ahead 12-0, and Neko Cappella (11-0) continued as Punxsy's only undefeated wrestler to compete in more than one bout by pinning Alex Holt in 67 seconds at 130 pounds.
The Chucks return to the mats to host Ridgway at 6 p.m. next Thursday.