CLARION — Saturday won't go down as one of Punxsy's finer District IX Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships, but the Chucks will still send eight grapplers to next weekend's regional tournament.
Punxsy head coach Eric Eddy expressed disappointment in just one district champion after the Chucks entered the tournament with four top seeds. But even if senior Kody Young was the only district winner, Punxsy will be sending more than half of its wrestlers to regionals.
"The big thing is: They got through," Eddy said. "Getting through is the first step. It doesn't matter whether you're a champ or not."
Young will be joined by Seth Spack (second place), Nathan McGregor (second), Tige Woodson (second), Josh Schuckers (third), Joel Bowers (third), Neko Cappella (third) and Josh Neal (third) at regionals, which begins Friday night in Altoona.
Top-seeded Young (29-2) won his fourth district title with two wins by fall at 125 pounds. No. 1 seeds Spack (26-6) and McGregor (25-8) lost their championship bouts.
At 135 pounds, Spack never could find a rhythm during a 2-0 loss to DuBois freshman Tom Sleigh (26-9), and 145-pound McGregor never led during a 6-2 defeat to DuBois senior Chris Powers (8-4).
"I didn't feel that Seth Spack or Nathan McGregor left it all out on the mat. It looked like they were wrestling not to lose district titles," Eddy said. "They both realize that, they know they're better than that, and hopefully, this was their bad weekend. If you're going to have a bad weekend, it might as well be this one instead of the next one."
Woodson advanced to the final at 189 pounds with a pin during the semifinals before he fell to St. Marys' Joe McLaughlin, 11-7. McLaughlin was ahead 5-0 after the first period and 7-2 during the second period before Woodson's late comeback fell short.
"If it was closer and we weren't coming back from that five-point deficit, we would have been a lot better off," Eddy said. "I'm not unhappy with Tige. He wrestled well."
It was a good weekend for 112-pound Bowers, a freshman who entered as the No. 4 seed with experience not on his side. Punxsy's Bowers entered the consolation final with a 2-0 record this season against St. Marys senior Trenton Bowers, and both Bowers needed another win to cement their spot at regionals.
Punxsy's Bowers was down 2-0 with a minute left in the final period when he escaped, took St. Marys' Bowers to his back and won by fall.
Cappella (29-6) and Neal (12-16) each lost their first bout before winning a pair of matches to finish in third place. Cappella's wins at 130 pounds took just 13 and 46 seconds, respectively, and Neal, a 171-pounder, used a fall and an 11-6 decision to advance.
Schuckers (20-13), another Punxsy freshman, lost his only bout Saturday, but he advanced to regionals, since only three wrestlers competed at 103 pounds.
Five Punxsy wrestlers won't be competing at regionals — Caesar Maruca (fourth place), Carl Langley (fourth), Devan Snyder (fifth), Duell Thompson (fifth) and Tyler Titus (fifth).
Langley (16-16) was the top seed at 160 pounds, but he lost 12-7 in the semifinals to the No. 4 seed and 3-2 in the consolation final to the No. 3 seed.
"He wrestled so well all year long. You just really hate to see Carl not get through," Eddy said. "He's disappointed with his performance, but if we wrestle this tournament 100 times, it doesn't turn out like that anymore. It was just a bad day to be off."
Maruca (10-21) was pinned by St. Marys' Sam Miller in the 140-pound consolation final, and Thompson (15-17, 152 pounds), Titus (6-23, 215) and Snyder (5-25, 119) each went 0-2 Saturday.