PUNXSUTAWNEY — Last Tuesday, Punxsy's junior high wrestling team met a much larger Hollidaysburg team that filled each necessary weight class, and despite outdoing Hollidaysburg 27-18 on the mat, the Chucks again fell because they had a smaller squad, 48-27, to the Golden Tigers.
"As I had mentioned going into the match, if they had numbers, we knew we would be in trouble, and that's exactly what happened," Punxsy head coach Bill Burke said. "Maybe it was a little more disappointing for me, as this was the first loss to Hollidaysburg since I have been coaching at the junior high level, but we just couldn't overcome the forfeits."
The match started at 90 pounds, where Punxsy took a quick 3-0 lead on a 5-0 decision by Eli Lambiotte over Hollidaysburg's Sam Barroner, but the match quickly turned in the Golden Tigers' favor on three consecutive forfeit wins by Jarrett Cavalet, Darren Bowser and Reece Gildea at 95, 100 and 105 pounds, respectively, giving Hol- lidaysburg an 18-3 lead.
Punxsy won the next two bouts on the mat to narrow the gap to 18-12.
Ryan Jones earned a close 6-5 decision at 110 pounds over Luciana Toscano, and Kaleb Young pinned Hollidaysburg's Dalton Long in 1:05 to pick up the combined nine points.
With no match at 122, Hollidaysburg regained its momentum at 130 pounds when Colton Walls pinned Johnathan Koper in 4:00. Braden Curry followed by earning a 2-1 decision over Punxsy's Levi Campbell to set the score at 30-18 in the Golden Tigers' favor.
Punxsy earned pin falls in two of the next three matches, with Jeff Bottenhorn pinning Jericho Hilling at 2:41 in the 145-pound class, and Travis Perry earning a pin over Paul Detwiler in just 49 seconds at 165 pounds.
In between the two bouts, Hollidaysburg's Noah Worley picked up three points for a 6-1 decision over Keegan Fischer.
The forfeit problem again caught up with Punxsy at 185 pounds, where Justin Detwiler received six points for the Golden Tigers.
And after Gavin Knisely pinned Punxsy's Austin Covatch for six more Golden Tiger points, Hunter Gill earned Hollidaysburg's final points with a six-point forfeit at 250 pounds.
Punxy's Zoie Smith battled her way to a 7-0 decision in the evening's final match to give Punxsy three points and set the final score at 48-27.
"Despite the forfeits, we didn't wrestle at our best," Burke said. "This one really should have been closer than what the score shows. We were a little flat, which is understandable after coming off a long weekend. But I feel there were a couple matches that we lost where we should have won and also a couple we should have pinned but only got three-point decisions. These things happen, though. So, we just have to put it in the past and move forward. I have to give Hollidaysburg credit. They came ready to wrestle. It's nice to see a program like that building."
Burke wasn't disappointed with his team's overall performance, though.
"Focusing on the positive, we did win on the mat yet again," he said. "We were victorious in six out of the 10 bouts wrestled. Exclude their five forfeits, and the team score becomes 27-18 in our favor. Unfortunately, due to our low numbers this year, that's just the way we have to look at it."
Punxsy had planned on attending the Cranberry tournament over this past weekend, but the tournament was cancelled, as no officials were available with the District tournaments taking place at the same time.
Punxsy will take to the mats again at PAHS Wednesday against St. Marys and has two more home meets after that to close out the season.
Burke knows the same issue will arise against St. Marys and DuBois, who will likely have bigger squads.
"Once again, I think it's going to be a numbers issue, particularly with St. Marys and DuBois, so we'll just have to make sure we're ready to go and do our best on the mats," Burke said.