CLARION — After a close beginning to its match with Clarion Tuesday night, the Punxsy junior-high wrestling team hit its stride during an easy victory over the Bobcats, 67-27.
The match was tied at 15 through six weight classes before the Chucks scored 52 of the final 64 points to improve to 12-1 on the season. Punxsy has now won 12-straight matches.
"After a slow and sloppy start, things turned out pretty well," Punxsy head coach Bill Burke said. "This was the longest break between matches that we've had for a while, so maybe that had something to do with our shaky start. But things came together, and they got the job done."
Punxsy's only deficit occurred after the first bout, which was Jeff Bottenhorn's (11-12) 14-9 overtime defeat to Destin Strauser. The Chucks quickly leaped ahead when Keegan Fischer (17-6) pinned Devin Stormer in 2:53, and Travis Perry (18-6) added three more points to Punxsy's advantage with a 7-1 decision over Zach Sintobin.
Three-straight six-point bouts followed, starting with Austin Covatch (3-20) being pinned in 21 seconds by Clarion's Tommy Klawuhn. Troy Peace (21-5) put Punxsy ahead 15-9 with a two-minute fall over Zack Huet before a Punxsy forfeit made it a 15-15 match.
Punxsy won nine of the remaining 12 weight classes, while one, 80 pounds, was a no contest. Punxsy started its surge when Zoie Smith (12-12) pinned Alex Struble in 2:25.
After Andrew Bullers (11-10) earned a forfeit, Eli Lambiotte (20-4) broke the 20-win barrier by registering a 15-0 technical fall over Leo Aiello.
The first of Clarion's remaining wins came from Caleb Bailey, who pinned Ryan Jones (14-11) in 3:41. Punxsy dominated nearly every bout down the stretch after Bailey's win.
Kaleb Young (23-0) continued his undefeated season with a 17-2 technical fall over Jesse Shumaker, and it didn't take Derek Conrad (7-4) long to pin Prince Brooks in 1:49.
The next bout, at 110 pounds, was highly-contested, with Matt Burke (13-5) taking on Jacob Troutman.
Burke scored the first takedown during the initial period, but an escape, a takedown, a reversal and back points helped Troutman leap ahead 7-2 entering the final period. As the third period began, Burke was unable to continue due to sickness, giving Troutman an injury default win.
Punxsy won the final four weight classes, including the final one when Logan Rend (15-9) won by forfeit.
Darin James (15-5) needed just 27 seconds to pin Austin Holz, and Jaydon Grusky (18-7) won by fall over Zach Dotterer in 3:22.
Grusky earned the first takedown, but he quickly fell behind 5-2 after a reversal and three back points for Dotterer. Grusky then worked his way back into the bout and was ahead 10-9 entering the final period when he won by fall.
The Chucks' final victory came from Perry Arrington (23-2), who won by injury default during the third period over Colin Grable.
Arrington was ahead 7-0 after two takedowns and three back points before Grable was unable to continue.
Punxsy's Johnathon Koper and Rend also won exhibitions matches. Koper pinned David Frampton in 1:44, and Rend won by fall in 11 seconds.
Most of Punxsy's junior-high grapplers will now look toward the Punxsutawney Groundhog "Youth Classic" Wrestling Tournament as their next competition. It takes place Saturday at PAHS and will be followed by the beginners only "Novice" tournament Sunday.
For more information on this weekend's Punxsutawney Groundhog Wrestling tournaments, visit punxsywrestling.com.
After that, the Chucks will prepare for their most talented opponents yet — Brookville. Earlier this season, the junior-high Raiders gave up six forfeits, but shut out the Beavers on the mat, 52-0, during a 52-36 victory.
A few Chucks are battling the flu, and Burke is hoping his team will be healthy by the time his team hosts Brookville at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3.
"We definitely have some things to work on before Brookville. I think, by far, they will be our toughest opponent all year," Burke said. "In order for us to pull out a win there, we will need some key matchups and a few upsets.
"We will definitely need to bring our A-plus game to the mats," he said.