Muncy advances to PIAA duals semifinals

HERSHEY – There was an incredulous look on Joe Klock’s face as he called attention to the referee that he had just been bit. Muncy’s 132-pounder was already upset he didn’t get the bonus points he was expecting in his bout Friday, but being bit in the final three seconds left him in disbelief.

He and Muncy head coach showcased the finger which was bitten to both official no less than a half-dozen times before the two-man crew made the call that Klock had, in fact, been bit. It gave Muncy six points it wasn’t expecting to get and took three away from District 11 champion Saucon Valley. The call also played a big part in the Indians reaching tonight’s PIAA Class AA Team Wrestling Championships semifinal with a 39-31 win over Saucon Valley.

Senior captain Noah Gush scored a fall in the final bout of the day to secure the win and Muncy became the first Lycoming County team to reach the state duals semifinals. The Indians face defending state champion and top-ranked Reynolds at the Giant Center tonight at 8. Southern Columbia, a 29-22 winner over Brookville, faces Chestnut Ridge in the other Class AA semifinal.

“It’s a great feeling, for sure,” Gush said. “We’ll come back at 8 o’clock because job’s not done. I think we bring back that same energy. We have to take away some of the bonus points we gave up, especially in the heavier weights. We need to fight a little harder. If we do that, we’ve got a shot.”

Klock, the second-ranked 132-pounder in the state got the matchup he wanted with Muncy leading Saucon Valley, 27-22. He was paired with seventh-ranked Nick Rosengrant, and it was a match Klock and the Muncy coaching staff believed could yield the Indians a critical bonus point.

Klock dominated the match, scoring four takedowns. He led Rosengrant, 9-1, with a minute to go but chose to cut Rosengrant to see if he’d be able to throw him to his back for a big move. But Rosengrant fought off a strong takedown attempt from Klock over that final minute.

But in the final 5 seconds, as Klock tried to finish the shot he was in on with a crossface cradle, Rosengrant, a returning state qualifier, bit down on Klock’s finger. Klock immediately showed the finger to the official as the clock ran out, and a protest from Muncy head coach Denny Harer quickly ensued.

The bite left teeth marks on both sides of Klock’s finger and drew blood. The conversation between the Muncy coaching staff and the officials became heated at times as the officials continually came back to Klock to look at the finger for signs of a bite.

“I felt him chomp right down on it,” Klock said afterward. “It was tough to stay calm. I was angry. I had to listen to my teammates tell me to stay calm.

“Coach Harer really had to show them the bite marks. They didn’t believe it for some reason. I didn’t put it in my own mouth and bite.”

The officials eventually decided, a bite had occurred and disqualified Rosengrant for flagrant misconduct. What was going to be a three-point decision win for Klock then turned into a six-point disqualification win for him. On top of it, Saucon Valley was penalized three team points for the flagrant misconduct and Muncy’s lead went from 27-22 before the bout to 33-19 afterward.

And all of a sudden, Muncy was in control. Ethan Gush held state-ranked Justin Kyra to a decision at 138 pounds. The Indians forfeited to second-ranked Jason Jones at 145 pounds, and needed just one win from either Coleman Good or Gush in the final two bouts to secure the victory.

“After (the bite) happened, Joe was still mad about the match, but I know the rest of us were still happy to get six points,” Gush said. “We only needed one win from me, Ethan or Coleman, and when it came down to me, I was like I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Gush and Saucon Valley’s Thomas Spirk felt each other out for the first two minutes of the bout, both getting in a solid shot, but neither scoring. Gush took bottom in the second period and could hear his teammates yelling that Spirk was tired.

Gush quickly escaped and almost immediately hit a dump for a takedown and trapped Spirk in a tough position with his back nearly exposed. With one quick drive, Gush forced Spirk to his back and got the fall in 2:24 to seal Muncy’s spot in the state semifinals.

Muncy is the first local team to reach the state semifinals at the Team Wrestling Championships since Central Mountain did in 2010. The Wildcats lost in the semifinals to Central Dauphin that year before finishing third.

“He was a big, strong kid, and usually strength wears out in the second period. So I knew if I took bottom I could get out quick,” Gush said. “I’ve been a part of this team for four years now and this is my first time wrestling here. That was great. It’s definitely a memory.”

“He’s our senior captain, I knew he was going to get it done,” Klock said. “He’s our team leader, he’s always there for us.”

No. 6 Muncy 39, No. 5 Saucon Valley 31

170: No. 11 Mike Kustanbauter, M, maj. dec. Braydyn Lugardo, 15-2.

182: Jarrett Hirschbeck, SV, pinned Josh Hall, 4:25.

195: No. 14 Dane Csenesits, SV, pinned Cael Hembury, 1:35.

220: No. 3 Hunter Poust, M, pinned Jared Harka, 2:50.

285: Nick Warnke, SV, pinned Coty Steele, 1:59.

106: No. 1 Jacob Blair, M, won by forfeit.

113: No. 9 Mario Barberio, M, tech. fall Dane Druckenmiller, 16-1, 4:50.

120: Chistian Good, M, pinned Kevin Dyer, 3:59.

126: No. 3 Josh Jones, SV, maj. dec. Bryce Vollman, 16-5.

132: No. 2 Joe Klock, M, won by disqualification over No. 7 Nick Rosengrant, 5:58*.

138: No. 18 Justin Kyra, SV, dec. Ethan Gush, 9-3.

145: No. 2 Jason Jones, SV, won by forfeit.

152: No. 8 Angelo Mahaffey, SV, dec. Coleman Good, 3-1.

160: No 18 Noah Gush, M, pined Thomas Spirk, 2:24.

*Saucon Valley penalized three team points for flagrant misconduct for biting

Takedowns: Saucon Valley 20, Muncy 12.

Records: Muncy (23-3); Saucon Valley (21-1).