MARION CENTER — It is always nice to live up to preseason billing, which is what the Punxsy middleweight grapplers did Wednesday night.
The middle of Punxsy’s wrestling lineup reeled off six straight victories to take the team past Marion Center, 46-28, in the dual season opener in Marion Center.
“I am happy with the match. We did a lot of good things. We were sharp on our feet and decent on the bottom,” explained Chucks head coach Eric Eddy. “It is our goal to start a run at 126 each match with Joel Bowers, Kaleb Young, Josh Shuckers and Perry Arrington.”
The coach continued, “We expect a lot out of those guys and expect the leadership, and they each came with strong matches tonight.”
The Chucks received falls by Arrington (145), Jeff Bottenhorn (152) and Travis Perry (182) to highlight the night. Freshman Young added a very solid and dominating major decision, 15-5, at 132.
Brandon Wingert (195) and Shuckers (138) produced decision outcomes, while Elijah Lambiotte (106), Stephanie Smith (120) and Bowers (126) were given forfeits.
The bout started off with a solid opening victory for the visitors in the 195-pound matchup.
In his first varsity action, Wingert outlasted Marion Center’s Alec Strong. The 195-pound senior recorded a takedown 40 seconds into the opening period and added a second with 27 ticks remaining for a 4-2 lead.
Wingert reversed Strong in the second for a 6-3 margin after the second. Strong battled back with his own takedown 28 seconds into the final period, 6-5. Wingert proved to have enough in the end for the 9-7 decision win to begin the Chucks evening.
“It was the first time Wingert wrestled since junior high and his first varsity match,” said Eddy. “He got us off to a good start, and his hard work showed.”
Marion Center put together its own run with three victories in the next four matches on the night.
At 220, Collin Rudd quickly took down Austin Covatch in 20 seconds.
Rudd continued to work the Chucks wrestler on the mat before getting the mat slapped 31 seconds later for the fall to push the Stingers ahead, 6-3.
In the lone weight class not filled by a Punxsy wrestler, Marion Center put six more team points to its early total with a forfeit at 285 to make it 12-3.
Freshman Elijah Lambiotte received the first Chucks forfeit of the night in the 106-pound class to put it back to 12-9.
At 113, the Stingers posted their third win of the first five matches. David Wiles was able to take down Andrew Bullers in the opening 13 seconds of the match. Wiles added three near-fall points as the opening period closed for a 5-0 lead.
Bullers showed some early life in second period, but was unable to post any points from his efforts.
Wiles recorded three late second period points for an 8-0 lead. After an early final frame takedown, Wiles continued in control before he claimed the fall at 4:56 in the match. With the fall, the home team increased the team margin to 18-9.
“Early on, the kids have looked good in the wrestling room but I think a lot of our mistakes may be due to first match jitters,” noted Eddy. “I have to give Marion Center wrestlers credit as they were really improved and crisp. Marion Center forced us into some mistakes and made us work hard.”
The Punxsy deficit turned into an advantage in mere minutes. Marion Center was unable to field a grappler at either the 120 or 126 weights to give the visitors forfeits and start the six Punxsy wins in a row.
In the forfeits, Stephanie Smith picked up the 120-pound win.
“It was key for her to make weight and give us the six points,” said the Chucks coach. “That’s big. When a wrestler receives a forfeit, they worked just as hard as the ones who wrestled.”
One of the top Punxsy wrestlers from a year ago, Bowers, claimed the second-straight forfeit.
The 126-pound forfeit pushed the Chucks back on top, 21-18, where they would stay the rest of the night.
One of the most heralded newcomers, freshman Kaleb Young took the mat next against Stinger Isaac Stewart in the 132 weight class.
The two wrestlers sparred for most of the opening period after an early Young takedown and 2-0 lead.
The second two minutes started a pattern for the rest of the match. Young let Stewart escape only to take him down just more than 10 seconds later.
The same event took place three more times in the second for a 10-4 Young lead.
Starting in the down position, Young escaped from Stewart right away and took the Marion Center athlete down right away to make it 13-4.
The former pattern would happen one more time with the final takedown coming with 45 seconds remaining for the eventual major decision, 15-5.
“Stewart actually wrestled a great match against Kaleb,” noted Eddy.
With Punxsy ahead 25-18, one of the night’s most competitive full match bouts ensued.
At 138, the Chucks’ Josh Shuckers started fast with a takedown 16 seconds into the match against the Stingers’ Brandon Heberling.
The home wrestler was given a point for an interlocked Shuckers grip. Herberling added a late reversal with 41 seconds left in the first for a 3-2 lead.
The two wrestlers traded second-period two-point moves with a takedown from Shuckers and a reversal by Heberling to make it 5-4.
Choosing the down position, Heberling received an non-challenged escape to start the final period.
Shuckers turned the tables right away with a strong takedown and sent Heberling to his back.
Shuckers held the Marion Center wrestler in what appeared to be headed to a fall, only to receive three near fall points along with an illegal hand to the face by Heberling for a fourth point to make it 10-6.
Heberling came back for a late reversal after being down with 1:02 on the clock, but Shuckers was able to hold fast for the 10-8 decision and 28-18 team lead.
“Heberling brought it tonight,” pointed out Eddy. “Shuckers didn’t have his best night but he gutted it out.”
In the 145-pound class, Punxsy’s Perry Arrington took control early in a strong performance.
The sophomore pounced on Brandon Prenni in the opening seven seconds before letting him escape.
Much like teammate Young, Arrington took down Prenni three more times in the second minute of the first with allowable escapes two times for an 8-3 lead.
Following a neutral point, Arrington slammed Prenni to the mat 14 seconds into the second period before pinning his opponent nine seconds later.
“Arrington got the job done, period,” said Eddy.
In what turned out to be the clinching bout, Jeff Bottenhorn took to the circle for Punxsy in the 152-pound matchup with Collin Butterworth.
After a 2-2 first period, Bottenhorn made a quick reversal to begin the second from the down position.
The Chucks wrestler continued from the reversal right into pinning Marion Center’s Butterworth for the pin 23 seconds into the second stanza.
The fall took Punxsy’s lead to a commanding 40-18 tally.
“Bottenhorn’s pin sealed the match for us,” noted the Punxsy coach.
At 160, Punxsy newcomer Justice Vance had a short night.
The Stingers’ Phil Crook raced to Vance, lifted him up, took him down and pinned him all in a fluid motion.
The 27-second fall for Crook was the first Marion Center win in seven weight classes.
“Vance just moved here to Punxsy from Ohio, and he is still getting adjusted,” commented Eddy. “Crook is tough and super strong. We had no prematch expectations, and Vance will just back in the wrestling room and work hard.”
Wrestling in a much higher weight class, Keegan Fischer started for Punxsy at 170. Fischer faced the much larger James Holley of Marion Center.
After over a minute of sparing by the foes, Holley posted two takedowns in the final 54 seconds of the first period to open a 4-2 advantage.
From the down position, Fischer escaped early in the second only to have Holley take him down 20 seconds later and add three back points for a 9-3 lead.
Holley produced his first takedown of the third at 1:18, with three more near-fall points before his eventual 18-6 major decision over Fischer.
“Fischer wrestled a great match considering he was wrestling up,” said Eddy. “He was wrestling a bigger and strong wrestler and wrestled well.”
The final match of the night finished with some Punxsy fireworks.
At 182, Travis Perry put six more Punxsy points on the board. Perry took the first minute feeling out Marion Center’s Charlie Brewer.
Right after the clocked turned under a minute in the first period, Perry sprung into Brewer with a double leg takedown and completed the fall with two seconds on the clock.
The Perry fall gave Punxsy the 46-28 team victory and opening dual match win.
“Perry ended the night with a bang,” smiled Eddy recalling the match. “He beat him with a takedown and pinned him to end it.”
The Chucks will have just over a week to work in the wrestling room following the win over the Stingers.
Punxsy will travel to take on Clearfield next Thursday night, Dec. 20. The junior high Chucks will start the night's doubleheader match at 5:30 p.m., before the varsity follows at approximately 7 p.m.