Carson’s Corner: Mifflin County Far From Disappointing at Regionals

| March 4, 2013 | 0 Comments


Sometimes you have to lose in order to learn how to win.

That’s a hard lesson a green Mifflin County squad had to learn this past weekend. The speed, experience and mental toughness required at this level are very high. The Huskies are close to the mountaintop, but not quite there just yet.

You don’t get the whole feast in the first course. And make no mistake; this was the first course for Mifflin County with many more enjoyable delicacies to come.

It takes time to build champions and a championship team. The Huskies are close, there’s no debate about that.

What disturbed me the most after getting back from Altoona was not the fact only two, Hayden Hidlay (113) and Kyle Kahley (220) were moving on, but the word I kept hearing fellow Mifflin Countians saying to me repeatedly got under my skin.

The word…disappointing.

How in all that’s holy can you call the Huskies performance disappointing?

But here I was running into people around town and the word kept popping out of their mouths.


Obviously, they weren’t in Altoona watching the regionals because the performance Mifflin County put on was far from disappointing.

Yes, the Huskies were 1-for-5 in the third-place matches with the winner moving on to Hershey, but don’t forget that one participant was a freshman (Brandon Wilson at 145) and one a sophomore (Isaac Underhill at 120).  Add in Noah Stewart at 126, another freshman one win away from wrestling for third, and you know they’ll be back more motivated, and more importantly, more experienced than ever.

The Huskies finished fourth in the team standings with 89 points, behind only General McLane, Erie McDowell and DuBois. Three teams who’s kids have much more wrestling under their belts than the Mifflin County boys do.

Lucas Besch (132), Kevin Bair (138), Joe Knarr (152) and Caleb Rhodes (285) saw their high school careers come to an end, but they went out giving everything they had and more. In the end, that’s all you can ask for.

Knarr wrestled his guts out. It was the best I’ve ever seen from him. Chad Reese is a defensive, counter wrestler who’s frustrating to compete against. Most of the time he waits for you to shoot and counters, sprawls or uses his long reach to underhook and slow things down. He’s also a very good mat wrestler. Joe was in deep on him so many times I stopped counting, he just couldn’t finish it off.

Was his performance disappointing? No way and if you think so, you don’t know wrestling.

Besch had the misfortune of being in arguably the toughest weight in the region.  The 132-pound class was the only one with three kids ranked in the top 10 in the state with Erie McDowell’s Nick Gibson, Clearfield’s Christian Stone and Altoona’s D.J. Hollingshead. Besch, like all the other Husky grapplers, wrestled his heart out.

Was his performance disappointing? I don’t think so.

At this level anything can happen, just ask Erie Prep’s John Ciotti, Allderdice’s Ian DiSilvio and Bellefonte’s Garrett Poorman. All were state qualifiers a year ago who didn’t make it back this year,

Oh by the way, who eliminated Ciotti?

Underhill did.

Was his performance disappointing? Not a chance.

All the Mifflin County kids gave it their all. You couldn’t say that with some other county teams in the past, but you can in this situation. They have no reason to hang their heads.

Head coach Kirby Martin summed his team up nicely after regionals.

“I thought we actually overall wrestled better than we were predicted to. We had a lot of kids with almost double-digit losses coming in here and they performed very well. The third-place matches were bittersweet because having five kids with only one win away from states and only coming out with one, that’s a hard round to swallow

“There was some nerves, but at this level, with the speed and the mental toughness here at regionals is something you need experience and the fire for the tournament trail. Again, I felt like we wrestled well. I think our kids wrestled better than most would have expected because we were so green coming into this tournament. I’m very, very happy with the overall outcome, but the third-place matches will sit with everybody for awhile.”

As well they should.

Sit on those matches and stew. Come back next year and use it as fuel to drive the team to even greater heights.

Individual personality and team chemistry are bound together. The guys in the Husky wrestling room have great personalities and root each other on. The chemistry is evident and when you have that, success isn’t very far behind.

The future is very bright for Mifflin County. With solid coaching, a good group of kids returning and strength coming up from the junior high, the Huskies will be basking in the glow of even greater accomplishment next season.

And that is far from disappointing.



Category: Columns/Features

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