PUNXSUTAWNEY — While Punxsy's varsity wrestling squad opened its season Wednesday night against the Marion Center Stingers, the junior high team has been hard at work with two matches already in the books and a tournament under its belt heading into Wednes-day's match against the Stingers, and Punxsy looked polished in its second home meet, earning a 54-39 victory Wednesday in Punxsutawney.
"As far as the Marion Center match goes, we can't be too disappointed," Punxsy head coach Bill Burke said after the match. "There were a bunch of forfeits on both sides, with five for them and four for us, but we did what we needed to do on the mat. If you take away all those forfeits, the score would have been 30-9 in our favor, as we only lost two bouts on the mat."
Marion Center's varsity team only suited competitors in seven weight classes, and the junior high team had a similar problem, but Punxsy's junior high squad's numbers were low, too, making it a close match throughout.
The meet started with a Marion Center victory by forfeit in the 115-pound class, giving Brad Smith credit for a win and Marion Center a 6-0 lead right off the jump.
Punxsy's Kaleb Young quickly erased the deficit for his squad, though, by earning a six-point pin over Brandon Prenni in just 49 seconds in the 122-pound class to even the team scores.
Next, it was Punxsy's turn to benefit from a forfeit victory in the 130-pound class when Jonathan Koper was credited with six points to give Punxsy a 12-6 lead.
In the 138-pound bout, Marion Center's Jacob Richardson earned his team's first three points on the mat when he fought Levi Campbell to a 6-1 decision, bringing the score to 12-9.
Punxsy quickly widened the gap, though, with four consecutive six-point wins.
John Mark Miller earned a victory by forfeit in the 145-pound class, and Jeff Bottenhorn followed with a 44 second pin over Marion Center's Jacob Cribbs to extend the lead to 24-9.
Keegan Fischer pinned Charlie Brewer in just over two minutes for Punxsy's third consecutive victory, and Travis Perry wasted no time following suit with a 34-second pin of his own to push Punxsy's lead to 36-9.
Neither team had a competitor in the 210-pound class, and Marion Center's Jordan Gromley won the 250-pound match by forfeit, cutting into Punxsy's lead at 36-15.
The lightweights were next, and Marion Center earned another forfeit victory in the 75-pound class.
Punxsy won the next two classes by forfeit, as well, with Zoie Smith and Brett Buck being the only ones to show in the 80- and 85-pound categories, respectively.
The teams finally matched up in another weight class when Punxsy's Eli Lambiotte faced Joseph Brendle in the 95-pound class.
Lambiotte and Brendle went deep into the third period, but Lambiotte earned a six-point pin at 4:03 of the duel to bring the score to 54-21.
Marion Center earned six-point victories in the final three bouts to make the score more respectable, but Punxsy had already put the match out of reach.
Brandon Parsell and Cage Hankinson won by forfeit in the 100- and 105-pound classes, and Michael Stewart pinned Punxsy's Ryan Jones in the waning seconds of the second period to set the final score at 54-39.
After the regulation matches, three exhibition matches were held with Smith out-dueling Marion Center's Tyler Zapach to earn a pin in 2:19, Punxsy's Brett Buck winning a major decision over Tyler Howell, 15-5, and Marion Center's Brad Smith pinning Jared Weber in the second period to conclude the junior high slate for the evening.
Overall, Burke was pleased with his team's effort Wednesday.
"As always, we saw some things we need to improve on, but at the same time, we saw a lot of good things, as well," he said. "Actually, I saw some signs of improvement from our match with Altoona Monday."
Similar to the varsity squad, the junior high team now turns its eyes towards always-challenging opponent Clearfield.
"We have a tough one coming up next week at home here with Clearfield," Burke said. "Aside from their wrestling tradition, they will be gunning for us, being that we pretty much dominated them last year. So, they'll be looking to avenge that loss. I'm sure we'll be up against a battle of numbers with them."