Muncy advances in Hershey
By MITCH RUPERT
HERSHEY — Ethan Gush pushed as much as he could. He dipped and ducked and handful of times to show the officials he was making an effort to get to a shot trailing by a point in his 138-pound match.
His opponent kept backing away. After 15 seconds of pushing, the official finally put a fist in the air. His other hand shot up signaling two points for the fourth stalling violation by Burrell’s Ethan Awes. Two seconds later the buzzer sounded and Gush and Muncy celebrated a crucial win in the first round of the PIAA Class AA Team Wrestling Championships on Thursday at the Giant Center.
Gush scored seven points in the third period, four of which came on stalling calls, to win a decisive toss-up bout which gave Muncy a 34-30 win over the Buccaneers. Muncy became the first Lycoming County team to reach the quarterfinals of the PIAA team tournament. The sixth-ranked Indians wrestle District 11 champion and fifth-ranked Saucon Valley today at noon in the quarterfinals. Saucon Valley advanced to the quarterfinals with 59-15 win over Faith Christian Academy.
“Our goals aren’t done. We didn’t come here just to win a match,” Muncy head coach Denny Harer said. “We came here to medal. That’s our goal, that’s this team’s goal and we’re one step closer.”
The Indians are one step closer because of a brilliant third period of wrestling by Gush, Muncy’s freshman 138-pounder. The 18-12 Gush who has gone 8-3 in his last 11 bouts, had to fight back from a 5-0 deficit in the first period after he was caught in a pair of arm bars. He fought for a good 40 seconds in the first period to keep his right shoulder off the mat and keep from getting pinned.
But he followed with a strong 2-minute ride in the second period against the 5-6 Awes to force the first of four stalling calls against the Burrell senior. Gush escaped from the bottom 16 seconds into the first period and earned his first stalling penalty point 13 seconds later when he shot Awes out of the circle.
Gush got to his only takedown 20 seconds later of a beauty of a dump, and another penalty point 12 seconds later put Gush within a point. He continued to push the pace trailing 6-5 for the final minute. Awes kept trying to tie-up but never once made an offensive move.
With 20 seconds left, the official hit Awes with a two-point stalling call for continually backing up over the final two seconds. As the Burrell coaching staff and fans went nuts protesting the call, the Muncy bench broke into a euphoric celebration for Gush getting potentially the most pivotal win of the Indians’ season.
“Ethan pushed the pace just like coach likes. You have to keep going, especially when your team needs you,” Muncy’s Christian Good said. “He looked over to our team a couple times and he dug deep for the team. That’s what it takes to be a good dual-meet team. Everybody has to be fighting for the team.”
“That was huge. It was scary, but it was huge,” Muncy’s Hunter Poust said. “We got the good calls and the right calls for us, and he kept wrestling and didn’t give up. That’s what we like to see from him.”
The win gave Muncy an 11-9 lead over the Buccaneers, and from there each win the Indians added to its ledger picked up bonus points. Coleman Good scored a fall at 145 pounds. Mike Kustanbauter added one at 170, and Poust needed just 56 seconds for his at 220 points.
The bonus points allowed the Indians to send out Jacob Blair for the final bout of the day at 106 pounds with Muncy trailing Burrell by just a point. The top-ranked Blair eased the tension in the building quite quickly scoring 11 points in the first period and needing just 3:12 for a 6-0 technical fall to win the dual.
His bonus-point victory was the fifth for Muncy in its seven bout wins. Just three of Burrell’s seven wins produced bonus points. Christian Good held seventh-ranked Ian Oswalt to just a 4-1 decision at 120 pounds. Josh Hall and Cael Hembury also held their opponents to decisions at 182 and 195.
“We know this whole tournament is based on bonus points,” Harer said. “Us getting the bonus points and not giving them up was the key. That’s what got us a win.”
“It was awesome to see guys fighting for bonus points, but also fighting to get off their back so they didn’t give up bonus points,” Poust said. “It’s more important here than it is all season because you’re not going to wrestle a bad team here.”
Muncy also foiled some of Burrell’s plans with its lineup early in the dual, including Mario Barberio dominating 20th-ranked Trent Valovchik in the match’s first bout for a 10-3 win. Valovchik, a returning state qualifier who is ranked at 106 pounds, weighed in heavy for Burrell and was bumped up to avoid a matchup with Blair. The move also bumped Oswalt up a weight class where found points tough to come by against Good.
Muncy also forced Burrell’s hand at 132 pounds by sending backup Jacob Hill out at 126 pounds. The Buccaneers had to show their wrestler first at 132 and the Indians wanted to get second-ranked Joe Klock matched up on state-ranked freshman A.J. Corrado. When Burrell sent out Corrado at 132, Muncy got the matchup it wanted and Klock came through with a technical fall.
The move meant the Indians wrestled without freshman Bryce Vollman on Thursday, but the move worked out for the Indians.
“When you have to move the team around and sit a guy like Bryce Vollman who has been a stud for you, that tells you the team is all in to try and win,” Harer said. “He’s a competitive kid. But he’s a team player and we all know he’s a team player and he’s going to do whatever he needs to do to help the team win.”
113: No. 9 Mario Barberio, M, dec. No. 20 Trent Valovchik, 10-3. 120: No. 7 Ian Oswalt, B, dec. Christian Good, 4-1. 126: No. 15 Bryan Gaul, B, pinned Jacob Hill, :44. 132: No. 2 Joe Klock, M, tech. fall No. 18 A.J. Corrado, 18-2, 5:19. 138: Ethan Gush, M, dec. Ethan Awes, 7-6. 145: No. 12 Coleman Good, M, pinned Dan McCarthy, 1:06. 152: No. 9 Corey Christie, B, dec. No. 18 Noah Gush, 5-4. 160: No. 20 Shaun Gates, B, pinned Gavyn Eisenhower, 4:44. 170: No. 12 Mike Kustabauter, M, pinned Dan Hydock, 2:31. 182: Austin Mele, B, dec. Josh Hall, 9-3. 195: Richard Feroce, B, dec. Cael Hembury, 8-2. 220: No. 3 Hunter Poust, M, pinned Colton Moorhead, :56. 285: Mason Slahtovsky, B, pinned Coty Steele, 4:36. 106: No. 1 Jacob Blair, M, tech. fall Aaron Edwards, 16-0, 3:12.
Takedowns: Muncy 15, Burrell 12.
Records: Muncy (22-3); Burrell (10-6).