Back to .500 — Punxsy takes down Ridgway

RIDGWAY — After a tough loss to Brookville put the Punxsy junior high wresting team below the .500 mark for the season at 2-3, Punxsy rebounded with a victory Thursday night in Ridgway to return to .500.

As has been the case for Punxsy in more matches than not this season, it dominated the bouts that took place on the mat. But in an interesting move, Punxsy head coach Bill Burke said Ridgway opted to exchange several forfeits as opposed to allowing its wrestlers to take to the mat during regulation.

"It was an interesting evening in Ridgway," Burke said. "I knew it would be a matter of how we matched up with them as to how we would do, and we matched up rather well. However, we didn't get a whole lot of wrestling in, as Ridgway chose not to wrestle some bouts when the opportunities were there. By bumping a few kids up here and there, as we usually do at the junior high level, we could have had a total of eight bouts — a true match for each of their eight kids.

Instead, Ridgway chose to swap forfeits at 75 and 80 pounds, 90 and 95 pounds and 210 and 250 pounds. while completely conceding a forfeit to Kaleb Young at 122.

"I'll just shrug my shoulders and leave it at that, as they then chose to wrestle a few of those match-ups as exhibition bouts," Burke said.

Young's match was the one that started the event at 122 pounds, and after his forfeit victory, Punxsy led 6-0 in a match during which the Chucks never trailed.

Punxsy's first victory on the mat came from a closely-contested 8-6 victory by Johnathan Koper over TJ Schlimm to push the Chucks' lead to 9-0.

The lead was extended to 12-0 on another decision during which it took Levi Campbell to overtime to score the match's first point. With his first point, Campbell defeated Nathaniel Wolff.

Ridgway earned its first points at 145 pounds when Ryan Geyer pinned John Mark Miller in 1:11.

The Chucks quickly earned their six back, though, when Jeff Bottenhorn pinned Colton McClain in just 42 seconds to bump the lead to 18-6.

With no match at 165 pounds, Travis Perry was up next for Punxsy, and he pinned Troy Quail in exactly one minute, giving Punxsy six more points.

At 210 pounds, Austin Covatch was awarded a forfeit, and Ridgway's Ryan Weis received the inverse forfeit at 250 pounds.

The two teams again swapped six-point forfeits with Punxsy's Zoie Smith at 75 pounds and Robbie Woodford at 80 pounds.

Drew Baumgratz and Punxsy's Eli Lambiotte earned the final tradeoff at 90 and 95 pounds.

With no match at 100, 105 and 115 pounds, Punxsy's Ryan Jones picked up Punxsy's final six points via forfeit at 110 pounds to set the final score at 48-24.

Despite the Elkers electing not to wrestle in many of the categories, Burke liked what he saw on the mat from his young squad.

"Our kids did a good job," he said. "I won't say it was a stellar performance, but we wrestled a nice, solid match. I have no complaints about winning four out of five bouts during the true dual meet. We were certainly more pleased last night compared to the way we wrestled at Brookville Tuesday."

After the dual meet was over, the teams sent three pairings to the mat for exhibition matches.

In the first, Weis pinned Austin Covatch at 2:30, in the second period, for a victory.

Punxsy's Eli Lambiotte was up next, and he earned a 6-1 decision over Drew Baumgratz.

Finally, Young, who received a forfeit to open the match, pinned Ridgway's Schlimm in 1:46.

Up next for Punxsy is the Cranberry Tournament, which kicks off at 9 a.m. today. The Chucks head into the tournament with the title of defending champs.

"Looking ahead, we travel to Cranberry (today) for their team duals. We were the champs last year and runner-up two years ago," Burke said. "So, we'll go in there with targets on our backs I'm sure. We're not the only team with number problems this year, so it should be interesting."

Burke's expectations are realistic but lofty at the same time.

"I'm not sure if we can come home with a first- or second-place trophy again this year," he said. "But we know we can certainly be competitive."