PUNXSUTAWNEY — Despite fighting its way to a virtual tie on the mat with Clearfield, Punxsy's junior high wrestling team fell victim to a number of forfeits over a much-larger Bison squad and lost Wednesday's match 66-30.
"Although I thought we didn't wrestle quite as well as we could have, this one went pretty much as expected," Punxsy head coach Bill Burke said. "I wasn't exactly sure what their numbers would be like this year, but they certainly had a pile of kids and outnumbered us by far. They weighed two in at several weight classes, so we simply couldn't compete with their numbers. We gave them seven forfeits, and they gave us one, which was by their choice."
Punxsy was also marred by the injury bug in the 155-pound class, forcing one of its seven forfeits, but looks to have Jeff Bottenhorn back for its next match.
Another of the forfeits was an unnecessary one, as Clearfield chose to bump Kyle Grumblatt to the 80-pound class and avoid a match with Punxsy's Zoie Smith in the 75-pound class. Smith earned a victory via forfeit, but Burke said it was a shame she didn't have her opportunity to earn Punxsy's points at a time in the match when Clearfield had already clinched the win.
"They chose to bump away from Zoie at 75 pounds, which really is too bad when they already had the match sewn up, as Zoie worked her butt off to make weight, and they ran from her," he said. "That makes me think they were concerned about losing on the mat."
The match started on a high note for the Chucks, as Brett Buck earned an 8-4 decision over Clearfield's Thayne Morgan to give Punxsy a 3-0 edge.
Clearfield claimed the lead on its first win by forfeit in the 90-pounders, but Punxsy's Eli Lambiotte regained it with a victory by pinfall over Steven Sawyer at 95 pounds to give the Chucks a 9-6 edge.
Clearfield won the next three matches — three by forfeit and a pin by Josiah McClarren over Ryan Jones in the 110-pound class — to extend its lead to 30-9 before Punxsy's Kaleb Young earned the Chucks their next points.
Young pinned Clearfield's Logan Puit in the second period, but not before toying with him, earning five takedowns and allowing him to escape four times. Young also earned a total of five back points to gain a 15-4 lead entering the second period.
Young started the second period on the bottom before earning two points for a reversal and then pinned Puit to bring the match back to 30-15.
Unfortunately for the Chucks, though, Clearfield won the next four duels to put the match out of reach.
Jaret McCracken earned a 12-5 decision over Jonathan Koper at 130 pounds, and Hunter Bumbarger managed to pin John Mark Miller at 138 pounds to extend the lead to 39-15.
Hunter Lancaster won a 5-0 decision over Punxsy's Levi Campbell, and Logan Lykens earned six points for a forfeit at 155 pounds.
Punxsy's Keegan Fischer put the Chucks back on the board in the 165-pound class with a third-period pin with just 9.2 seconds remaining on the clock.
In what turned out to be the closest match of the night, Punxsy's Travis Perry earned a 4-2 decision over Josh Kennedy in an ultimate tie-breaker — meaning the match went to a fourth, sudden-death overtime period — to give the Chucks three more points.
The bout was tied at the end of regulation, after a pair of penalty points were awarded in regulation.
In the second period, Perry was called for an illegal hold, and in the third period, Kennedy was called for forcing Perry off the mat. Perry was awarded a point after a warning was issued and the infraction was committed again.
The first overtime went scoreless, but Perry was awarded another point in the second overtime for a Kennedy infraction and another for an escape to take a 4-2 lead into the third overtime.
Perry held off a third-overtime rush by Kennedy to hold him scoreless and earn his team three points.
At 210 pounds, Clear-field's Travis Ogden pinned Austin Covatch, and at 250, Curtis Mignot won by forfeit to extend Clearfield's lead to 60-30.
Smith and Grumblatt's forfeit wins evened each other out and gave Clearfield the 66-30 team win.
"Despite the forfeits, all in all it was a hard fought meet," Burke said. "There were some good bouts, and they were definitely well-coached. Other than the numbers, I think they are a lot like us with a lot of inexperience, but they did come ready to wrestle."
Now, Burke and his squad turn their eyes to the new year and a Jan. 5, 2012, match at Curwensville.
"I think we were a little lax in some areas, but that's an easy fix that we will work out rather quickly," he said. "We need to be ready to go come the first of the year."