Forfeits help junior-high Chucks blow out Ridgway

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Sickness left Ridgway with just nine wrestlers Thursday night, and the Punxsy junior-high wrestling team took advantage of the Elkers' small squad while registering a 61-18 victory at home.

Punxsy (5-1) still out-wrestled Ridgway, earning a slim 19-18 victory on the mats. After that, the Chucks ended the match with seven-straight forfeit wins.

"Any win over Ridgway is a big win, but in many ways, this wasn't such a big win," Punxsy head coach Bill Burke said. "It was sad to see them with only nine wrestlers. I've been on that side of the road and know how tough it is to deal with that kind of situation."

Even with the win on the mat and even greater victory after the forfeits, Burke and the Punxsy coaching staff weren't really pleased with the Chucks' performance on the mat.

"I don't know if it was missing that day (Wednesday) of school or what, but some of our wrestlers were just plain flat and did not wrestle well," Burke said. "We ended up winning on the mats, but I really don't think it should have been that close."

Burke was most impressed with his back-ups, including Harry Batley and Brett Starr, who each garnered first-period pin fall victories during exhibition matches. Additionally, Punxsy's Johnathon Koper was very competitive during a 7-6 loss to Nathan Wolff.

"Some of our back-ups wrestled much better than our starters, as four of their kids wrestled twice just to get some mat time for both of us," Burke said.

Wolff also registered a win during a non-exhibition match, pinning Stephanie Smith (7-10) in 3:31 to start the night. What followed was T.J. Schlimm knocking off the Chucks' Jaydon Grusky (14-4), 8-5.

Punxsy quickly did away with the 9-0 deficit by winning the next two bouts thanks to Perry Arrington (17-2) and Logan Rend (10-8). Arrington controlled D.J. Pontious while piling up a 15-5 major decision, and Rend pinned Nate Bickford in 61 seconds.

Ridgway won its second decision of the night when Mike Popson beat Jeff Bottenhorn (7-10), 4-0, but the Chucks' Keegan Fischer (12-5) came right back with a 5-0 decision over Ryan Geyer.

The final two bouts of the night weren't nearly as long as the former two, as Travis Perry (13-6) pinned Troy Quail in 66 seconds, and Austin Covatch (2-15) lost by fall to Samuel Delhunty in 68 seconds.

Earning forfeits for Punxsy were Troy Peace (17-3), Zoie Smith (7-11), Eli Lambiotte (14-4), Andrew Bullers (6-10), Ryan Jones (11-8), Kaleb Young (17-0) and Derek Conrad (3-2).

In another exhibition bout, Pontious beat Connor Rees, 8-0.

Punxsy will have ample opportunities to make up for what Burke thought was a lackluster performance when it travels to the Cranberry tournament today.

"The way we we left it in the locker room after the match was that everyone has a bad day now and then," Burke said. "Let's hope we got ours out of our system so we can come back strong at Cranberry."

The tournament, which Punxsy was the runner-up at last year, begins at 9 a.m.

"If we wrestle like we can, I have a pretty good feeling about the Cranberry duals," Burke said. "But we'll definitely need to pick it up from (Thursday)."