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Wyalusing grinds out win over West Branch

February 9, 2012 - Mitch Rupert

HERSHEY – Wyalusing isn’t a team that’s as star-studded as the other teams in the PIAA Class AA Team Championships.

The Rams don’t have a returning state qualifier on their roster. They don’t have a wrestler ranked in the top 10 in the state.

What they do have, though, are 14 wrestlers in their lineup capable of winning. They proved it yet again Thursday evening as Wyalusing beat District 6 runner-up West Branch, 36-15, in the first round of the state duals tournament. The Rams advanced to face District 9 champion Brookville, a 72-0 winner over Lower Moreland, in the quarterfinals today at noon.

“I think some of the kids were a little nervous with it being the first time down here at the Giant Center,” Wyalusing head coach Gary Haley said. “For all these kids it’s the first time at the Giant Center actually wrestling. I think they were a bit nervous, but coach (Walt) Fisk and I were telling them we’re here for a reason, because we have a good, strong team and we’re capable of competing with these teams down here. We just have to do everything we have been doing.”

The formula is pretty simple for Wyalusing, but it’s a formula the Rams have all but perfected. They win the tough matches – they won seven bouts decided by six points or less. They get bonus points when the opportunity arises – Anthony Clark and Tim Kuntz each picked up falls. And giving up a bonus points is not an option – West Branch had just one bonus-point win.

It’s the same formula that had Wyalusing beat tournament favorites Mifflinburg and Central Columbia last week to capture the District 4 title. In the final against Central Columbia a week ago, the Rams won eight bouts by five points or less.

“We have 14 guys who, when they step on the mat, are going to give it everything they have,” Haley said. “And in dual meet tournaments like this, you can’t do it with three or four wrestlers, you need all 14 to perform. Each one of them has a job to do. Even if you can’t get a win, don’t give up bonus points and you’ll be doing your job and more.”

Anthony Clark got the Rams started on the right foot when he recorded a first-period fall at 195 pounds. It was the kind of spark that seemed to ease the nerves of a team that’s still an underdog in such a successful season. Clark’s decking of Trey English in 1:55 led to freshman Dylan Otis’ 8-5 decision win at 220 pounds and a 9-0.

After West Branch cut the lead to 9-6 with a pair of wins by a total of three points, Brandon Kelley beat Abe Albright (27-5 coming into states) and Justin Haley beat Dustin Fisch (22-7) to push the lead to 15-6.

Ryan Hart added another close win when he scored a takedown with just five seconds left in his bout to beat John Hayles, 4-3. Tim Kuntz followed with a 30-second fall that was the first strike of the nail in the coffin of West Branch, the District 6 runner-up.

“(Anthony Clark) is dangerous from anywhere,” Haley said. “He loves to wrestle and he loves to mix it up. He can throw you from your feet, he can turn you on top. He has fun wrestling. He’s actually fun to watch because he usually opens up and he’s a go-er.”

Wyalusing closed out the day with four decision victories over the final five bouts. Even with the loss at 160 pounds from Tyler Thompson, the Rams sealed the victory because Thompson wrestled to the gameplan and didn’t give up bonus points to Lucas Kristofits, a wrestler who had 23 wins entering the weekend.

“We came down and watched Central Columbia a bit and when we saw Central beat Mount Union, the District 6 champs, that gave us a lot of confidence,” Haley said. “Last week we wrestled really well against Mifflinburg and wrestled exceptionally well against Central, so we had a lot of confidence going in to this weekend. The goal is if we wrestle like we’re capable of, we feel like we can medal.”

Wyalusing 36, West Branch 15

106: Wyatt Sankey, WB, dec. Austin Shaeffer, 2-0.

113: Brandon Kelley, Wy, dec. Abe Albright, 7-1.

120: Justin Haley, Wy, dec. Dustin Fisch, 3-1.

126: Parker Bumbarger, WB, pinned Ryan Force, 2:19.

132: Ryan Hart, Wy, dec. John Hayles, 4-3.

138: Tim Kuntz, Wy, pinned Kaleb Quick, :30.

145: Joe Champulvier, Wy, dec. Luke Slippey, 8-2.

152: Tyler Fenton, Wy, dec. Ethan Slippey, 6-0.

160: Lucas Kristofits, WB, dec. Tyler Thompson, 6-0.

170: Dan Frankenfield, Wy, dec. Ryan Miles, 7-1.

182: Justin Griffith, Wy, dec. Robert Pearce, 6-0.

195: Anthony Clark, Wy, pinned Trey English, 1:55.

220: Dylan Otis, Wy, dec. Reynold Maines, 8-5.

285: Morgan Selepack, WB, dec. Clayton Force, 4-3.

*Match started at 195 pounds.

Records: Wyalusing (21-1); West Branch (25-4).


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