CURWENSVILLE – Three forfeits didn’t cost the Curwensville wrestling team Thursday night, but the 18 points were way too many to overcome against an opponent the caliber of Punxsutawney.
The Golden Tide trailed only 18-16 after splitting the first eight bouts of the match, but the visitors then parlayed a decision, two pins and two forfeits into a 45-22 victory in Patton Hall.
Punxsy has re-loaded after losing nine seniors from a squad that finished 16-9, including the first win over DuBois in 32 seasons, and sports an 11-8 record with underclassmen filling all but two of the weight classes.
“I knew Punxsy was gonna be tough,” Curwensville coach Duane Wriglesworth II said. “They’re solid.
“We knew we were going to have a tough time putting points on the board.”
Falls by 119-pounder Jake Keller and heavyweight Brian Zemba and a major decision by 130-pounder Alex Holt provided bonus points, but Derek Brothers at 125 and Wes McGarry at 145 were the Golden Tide’s only other winners.
Jordan Russell (12-6) just missed staking the hosts to an early lead, but Anthony Pascuzzo fought off his deep single-leg takedown attempt in the third period to preserve a 2-1 squeaker at 103. Pascuzzo, who dropped from 112 this week, garnered his only points by countering Russell’s lunging shot on a restart with five seconds left in the first period.
“He just needs to turn the corner on his shots,” Wriglesworth said of his freshman bantam. “That’s something we’re gonna work on.
“At the beginning of the year, he might not have been in that match. But I see the improvement in him. He keeps getting better.”
Seth Spack, one of nine Chucks with at least 14 wins, cradled Greg Koptchak for a 34-second fall to make it 9-0.
Curwensville bounced back with three consecutive wins to go in front 13-9.
Leading 9-0, Keller started the second period by exploding off the bottom to switch Caesar Maruca in two seconds and then pinned him with a guillotine at 2:25 in just his second bout since coming off the injury list.
Brothers took down Neko Cappella in each period for a methodical 7-0 victory. He slicked the Chuck twice with slide-bys and polished off his 20th win in 22 matches by spinning behind for the final takedown with 19 seconds remaining.
Holt snapped the 9-9 tie by rushing and bear-hugging Jordan Bullers for two-and-two and added two more near falls on tilts for a nine-point first period. Reversals in the last two periods gave him a 13-1 major decision.
“That trap-arm tilt was working for him, and I was glad to see him working it both ways,” Wriglesworth said.
Punxsy regained the lead for keeps when two-time District 9 Class AAA champ Kody Young received a forfeit. On Tuesday against Clarion, the junior standout recorded his 100th win via his 19th fall of the season.
At 140, Brett Sutika knee-picked Nathan McGregor for the takedown, but he was unable to score again despite riding the entire middle period. McGregor headlocked him for a reversal and switched to a double-leg grapevine for a near fall as time ran out in the first period. He tilted Sutika for another near fall midway through the third period to win 8-2.
“We got caught in headlocks, and that’s the first we’ve had trouble with it,” Wriglesworth said. “Brett was trying to come around and go over the top with legs and then arch and roll through when he got caught. That put him too far behind to catch up.”
McGarry handled Duell Thompson 4-0 with two takedowns, engineering a knee pick in the first period and a fireman’s carry in the third period, closing the gap to two points.
Derek Kerr triggered Punxsy’s five-bout run by besting Kyle Kyler 12-6, the key move a headlock for two-and-three and a 9-2 lead early in the second period. Kyler, who was taken down twice, reversed twice and had two escapes.
At 160, James Shirley was too tough in the neutral position for Alex Holland. Two of his four takedowns were headlocks, the second resulting in a fall with 30 seconds left.
Then, Carl Langley quickly double-legged Chad Desmett, turned him with a half nelson and got the fall in 50 seconds at 171.
Forfeits for Tige Woodson at 189 and Matt Meko at 215 preceded Zemba’s match-ending pin. After taking down Tyler Titus for the second time, Zemba sunk a deep half nelson to end the 285 bout at the 3:40 mark.
Surprisngly, Curwensville (5-12) had a 10-9 edge in takedowns.
The Golden Tide will be one of 27 teams competing in the 27th Fred Bell Memorial Tournament at Grove City this weekend.
Action will get under way on five mats Friday at 4 p.m. with the pigtail round, followed by the preliminary round and the first round of wrestlebacks.
Championship quarterfinal and consolation second round bouts are booked for 9 a.m. on Saturday, with continuous action throughout the afternoon. The Parade of Champions will start at 5:45, with the first championship match at 6:15.
Curwensville’s next dual meet will be at home against West Branch next Thursday.
Punxsutawney 45, Curwensville 22
103 – Anthony Pascuzzo, P, dec. Jordan Russell, 2-1. (0-3)
112 – Seth Spack, P, pinned Greg Koptchak, :34. (0-9)
119 – Jake Keller, C, pinned Caesar Maruca, 2:25. (6-9)
125 – Derek Brothers, C, dec. Neko Cappella, 7-0. (9-9)
130 – Alex Holt, C, major dec. Jordan Bullers, 13-1. (13-9)
135 – Kody Young, P, won by forfeit. (13-15)
140 – Nathan McGregor, P, dec. Brett Sutika, 8-2. (13-18)
145 – Wes McGarry, C, dec. Duell Thompson, 4-0. (16-18)
152 – Derek Kerr, P, dec. Kyle Kyler, 12-6. (16-21)
160 – James Shirley, P, pinned Alex Holland, 5:30. (16-27)
171 – Carl Langley, P, pinned Chad Desmett, :50. (16-33)
189 – Tige Woodson, P, won by forfeit. (16-39)
215 – Matt Meko, P, won by forfeit. (16-45)
285 – Brian Zemba, C, pinned Tyler Titus, 3:40. (22-45)
Referee – Bob Colgan.