Punxsy edges victory in close mat match-ups

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsy grapplers faced even match-ups Tuesday night against Hollidaysburg, and the Chucks edged just one more victory on the mat than the Tigers and earned themselves a 43-28 win.

The Tigers are running a small squad this year, and they knew going into Tuesday night's match-up they'd be giving up four forfeits. But the Chucks were having numbers issues themselves and returned the favor with three. Only seven matches took place on the mat.

"It did end up being pretty even on the mat," Chucks head coach Eric Eddy said. "...Overall, it wasn't a bad night. I just would've like to have seen more kids in the lineup."

Hollidaysburg jumped out to an early lead when Calen Walls overtook Caesar Maruco in a 7-4 decision. Maruco made some small errors, and they made the difference.

"The 145-pound match, that was just a good match," Eddy said. "Walls capitalized on Caesar's mistakes and ended up winning 7-4."

Tanner James picked up the first points for Punxsy as the Tigers forfeited. The Chucks then added to their lead with back-to-back pin fall victories.

At 160, Seth Spack easily dominated Hollidaysburg's Devin Crawford in 1:30. Then, at 170, Carl Langley commanded an early 9-2 lead in the first period before pinning Ian Bilofsky in 2:22.

Hollidaysburg then earned 25 unanswered points to take back the lead. It started with Laret Miller at 182, who easily earned an 11-0 major decision over Josh Neal, and the Chucks had to forfeit at 195.

The Tigers continued their point streak when Matt Milardo took down Tyler Titus, allowing Titus to secure only one point in a 7-1 decision.

"I wasn't real happy with the way we wrestled at 182 and 220," Eddy said. "I thought we were lazy on the bottom, didn't move much and didn't get hand control, and those little things make all the difference in the match."

Punxsy then gave up two back-to-back forfeits, and Hollidaysburg led 28-18 before the Chucks earned any more points.

At 113, Joel Bowers wrestled well against a Tiger powerhouse, Damian Huff.

"Huff is a tough wrestler," Eddy said. "We knew it was going to be a tough match. Huff's a strong kid, he's a good wrestler, and that's the way the match went."

Bowers was up to the challenge, though, and he won a 4-0 decision.

Huff worked well on his feet, but Bowers had the edge on the bottom.

Bowers earned his first points with a reversal in the second period, which gave him the opportunity to creep away with the win.

Huff recognized how well Bowers worked on the bottom and elected to start a neutral position at the beginning of the third period.

"Huff knew he didn't want to be underneath, and that was the difference: Joel's ability to work on top," Eddy said. "We were able to secure the takedown in the third period and ride him out for a victory."

Devan Snyder then picked up six more points with a forfeit win before Josh Schuckers took the mat at 126 against Hollidaysburg's Lewis Gromiller.

Schuckers completely overshadowed Gromiller and had a shutout through two periods.

Gromiller earned points with only one reversal and two escapes, and Schuckers secure a 16-4 major decision.

"Jose is one of the kids we've really been working with (getting) him on his feet, trying to work some of the little things he does wrong," Eddy said. "He did better tonight on his feet, ... he did a good job, and he's improving, and that's all we can ask for."

The final two victories for the Chucks went to Neko Cappella (132 pounds) and Perry Arrington (138 pounds), as both were given forfeits.

The Chucks will have some time off before taking to the mat again; their next meet will be at home Wednesday, Feb. 8 against St. Marys. The junior high squad will begin at 6 p.m. with the varsity meet following.