NEW BETHLEHEM — Punxsy wrestling coach Eric Eddy told anyone who asked him this week it would take "a perfect match" to beat Redbank Valley when the Chucks traveled there Tuesday night. Punxsy came within four points of reaching that match but fell just short in a 33-29 loss — one which saw Punxsy's Seth Spack reach the 100-win milestone to become just the fourth Chuck to do so.
Spack earned his 100th tonight, joining Neko Cappella, who did it this season, as well, and Matt Means and Kody Young as the only wrestlers in Punxsy history to reach the mark.
"I know Seth would have been happier getting his 100th in a team win, but unfortunately, it didn't work out that way," Eddy said.
Despite the final score, Eddy was pleased with his team's overall performance, as the Chucks outdueled Redbank on the mats, 29-21.
"Overall we wrestled a really great match," Eddy said. "I wasn't unhappy with anyone who went out on the mat. It was an exciting match, and Redbank Valley is a tough team. Unfortunately, we gave up 12 forfeit points, and having wrestlers in those spots definitely makes a difference. But I'm proud of these guys."
The match started at 145 pounds with Punxsy's Perry Arrington defeating Nick Schreckengost via pin at 1:32 of the first period to give Punxsy a 6-0 edge.
"Perry was actually trailing by two when he pinned Nick," Eddy said. "Even though the match only lasted a minute-and-a-half, it was a battle."
It was in the second bout of the evening that Spack reached the highly-coveted milestone.
Spack led 5-0 after the first period and outscored his opponent, Mat Hetrick, 10-2 over the final two periods to secure the major decision and give Punxsy a 10-0 lead.
At 160 pounds, Redbank's Cole Shirey earned a technical fall over Caesar Maruca to cut the deficit to 10-5, but senior Carl Langley returned Punxsy to its winning ways with an 8-6 decision over Brandon Bailey.
Fellow senior Josh Neal kept things rolling for the Chucks at 182 pounds with a 1-0 decision over Aaron Hook, and pushed Punxsy's lead to 16-5.
Neal and Hook were scoreless entering the third period, but Neal earned an escape for the match's only point.
"Carl and Josh both wrestled great matches for us tonight," Eddy said.
Punxsy's first forfeit came at 195 pounds, and at 220 pounds Tyler Titus suffered a defeat for Punxsy.
With another forfeit at 285, Redbank took its first lead of the match at 20-16.
The match shifted to the lightweights next, where Redbank earned a major decision over Punxsy's Andrew Bullers.
Consecutive wins by Punxsy's Joel Bowers and Matt Burke put Punxsy back in the lead, though, 29-24.
Bowers pinned Willis Gruver with just 10 seconds left on the match clock while trailing to earn six points for the Chucks.
Eddy said Gruver had handed Bowers a technical fall, and it was good to see him bounce back and earn the win.
Burke had spent some time out of the Chucks' lineup, but bounced back with a 7-3 decision that moved Punxsy back ahead over Redbank's Mitch Blose.
Josh Schuckers padded Punxsy's lead with a major decision, but Punxsy lost the next two bouts with Devan Snyder and Neko Cappella falling at 132 and 138 pounds, respectively, to give Redbank a 33-29 victory.
"If a couple of guys could have had falls, that could have made the difference for us," Eddy said. "We had guys tonight who got lots of back points, and we couldn't secure the pins. Give credit to Redbank, though.
"They were tough kids, and they didn't give up when we got them on their backs."
As Punxsy hits the home stretch of its season, Eddy said the Chucks' forfeit problems will likely continue, as many wrestlers are actually coming down to their standard weights, and he wants to give them some time at their proper weight, noting wrestlers such as Cappella have been suffering tough losses because they were wrestling up a weight class.
Eddy also noted that at the match, the Redbank Valley School District honored former wrestler and fallen soldier Joseph Garrison, who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan.
"We acknowledged a moment of silence for Mr. Garrison, and that kind of put things into perspective," Eddy said. "Sometimes, we look at these matches as all-ending or all-encompassing. But there's a whole lot going on out there, and a former wrestler was killed in battle. It was good to go out tonight and give the fans a match like that after we recognized him in that manner."