Huskies Prepare For Second Leg of Tournament Trail

| February 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

(The video above features Kirby Martin talking about the upcoming Northwest Regional Tournament)

The Mifflin County wrestling team had about 24 hours to celebrate its performance after winning the District 6 Class AAA tournament before going back to work.

Claiming the crown and putting 10 through to regionals is cause for celebration, but the tournament trail is unforgiving and any lapse in focus could mean the difference between moving on and going home.

So it was back to the drawing board Monday for coach Kirby Martin and crew. Back to work for the young men trying for that elusive goal – a PIAA state championship.

The second leg of the quest begins Friday at the Altoona Field House with District 6 joining Districts 4, 8, 9 and 10 at the Northwest Regional Class AAA championships.

District 4 is the new kid on the block, coming over from the Northeast region, and District 8 has kids who are no longer mat fodder.

Each rung up the ladder is more difficult. The difference between winning and losing can be razor thin. Nothing but the best effort will yield positive results.

Leading the way for the Huskies will be the freshmen trio of Hayden Hidlay (113), Noah Stewart (126) and Brandon Wilson (145). All three are coming in as District 6 champions and looking for more.

Hidlay (24-4), ranked 10th in the state, faces Eric McDowell’s Benjii Yates (24-11); Stewart (28-5) takes on Erie McDowell junior Coleman Cousins (19-16), while Wilson (20-5) gets a bye. He will face the winner of Antwuan Parker (7-8) of Brashear or Tyler Yetzer (16-12) of St. Mary’s in the quarterfinals.

Isaac Underhill (120), Lucas Besch (132), ranked 24th in the state, and Joe Knarr (152) finished second last week and hope to punch a ticket to states. Besch qualified for states last season. Knarr made it to regionals but failed to place.

The duo are the only wrestlers with regional experience for the Huskies.

“Regionals is a lot different than districts. Our district was kind of down this year. Regionals is a big step up,” said Knarr. “Competition is going to be tougher. Your conditioning needs to be pretty precise. You just need more heart to compete. I need to keep working hard in the room and have my mindset right. You just have to keep up the intensity and keep moving forward.”

Besch said he hasn’t talked to the freshmen about regional competition.

“No not really. We’re actually pretty fortunate. We have a very experienced group of freshmen and underclassmen,” Besch remarked. “A lot of these kids have experience wrestling big matches, but it’s not junior high anymore. Districts weren’t quite as tough as in the past. It doesn’t matter what weight class you’re at, regionals are the real deal and there’s going to tough kids at every weight. You’re going to have to beat somebody you’re not supposed to if you want to move on to Hershey.

“Last year was put your nose to the grindstone for me. I lost my first match last year and had to battle back through the consolations, which was very tough. You have to stay aggressive. This time of year everybody is good. It all comes down to who wants it the most. It’s all mindset. You have to be mentally tough.”

Underhill (30-8) takes on Erie Central Tech’s Jose Lopez (19-16) in the opening round. Besch (23-10) faces Punxsutawney’s Josh Shuckers (15-8) and Knarr (22-14) tangles with Ryan Dailey (17-15), a  freshman from Erie McDowell.

Kevin Bair (14-12), third-place finisher a week ago, meets Punxsutawney’s Perry Arrington (16-6) at 138. Drew Hannon (2-5), a surprise fourth-place finisher at districts hooks up with Austin Lewis (19-10) of Selinsgrove at 195, while Kyle Kahley (220) goes against Warren’s Alex Streich (26-7) and Caleb Rhodes (285) takes on Carrick’s Lauryn Wade (3-9) in opening round action.

Kahley (23-11) and Rhodes (14-12) finished fourth at the district tournament last week.

The main goal is advancing to states. A second goal is to improve upon last year’s 9th place team finish. Look for Mifflin County to blow past its 48 points scored in 2012.

The competition gets tougher with each rung up the ladder. Mifflin County needs to bring the kind of wrestling it showed at districts to make an impact at regionals. Here’s hoping they can do just that.


Category: High School Wrestling

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