Lofty Expectations: Huskies Look to Score Big at Districts

| February 21, 2013 | 0 Comments

An historic season in Mifflin County has raised the expectation level to overload as the Huskies prepare to do some damage at the District 6 Class AAA Tournament, which begins Friday at the Altoona Field House.

Under the direction of head coach Kirby Martin, Mifflin County captured its first District 6-AAA Duals title and as a reward earned its first ever berth to the PIAA State Duals

More history could be made by the time the tournament ends Saturday night.

The last time a team from the county won a district tournament title was back in 1979 when legendary coach Charlie Roselle led Chief Logan to the Class AA crown with names like Joe Heller, Tim Knoerr, and Lew Copenhaver leading the way.

The Huskies, along with Central Mountain, are the favorites to battle for the title. With high expectations comes the pressure to fulfill them. The bright lights of the state duals produced a deer-in-the-headlights performance by his young charges. Is Martin worried about a repeat rendition at districts?

“We’ve had a very good week. The focus is there. This is the time of the year where the kids should be really excited about wrestling,” Martin said. “For some of them there’s going to be some jitters. From what I’ve seen this week I don’t think they are too anxious about it. The first priority is win and advance but there’s a little incentive to contribute to the team and I’m hoping that will distract them a little bit from the other stuff.”

Mifflin County has nine wrestlers seeded in the top four with freshmen Noah Stewart (126) and Brandon Wilson (145) top-seeded. Along with Hayden Hidlay, ranked 10th in the state at 113 and a second seed, the Huskies rely heavily on their Fab Freshmen to score points and pace the team through the lighter weights. The youngsters have done their job very well all season long.

Only two wrestlers from Mifflin County won a District 6 championship as a freshman – Lewistown’s Kenny Whitsel in 1976 and Mike “Chub” Robinson in 2004.

Look for more added to the list after Saturday.

“Our ninth graders have all wrestled in big atmospheres. They’ve all wrestled in PJWs,” replied Martin. “They kind of know what it’s all about when it comes to big tournaments. The success they’ve had this year is not a surprise. They wrestle all year round. Their parents and the club teams they wrestle for have them ready for this.

“I think the biggest thing for them is overcoming that first time ever going to districts. Really I think that’s their only obstacle. They’re great athletes. They know who they’re wrestling. The only thing that could distract them is they are in high school. These are the moments you kind of dream about as an elementary and junior high wrestler…going to districts, regionals and states.”

Losing McKenon Todaro (160) and Tre Carter (95) will hurt, but attrition is part and parcel to every school during the wrestling season. Any team spared injuries is very lucky indeed.

Central Mountain is without heavyweight Caleb Stover, who would have been a second or third seed, and Philipsburg-Osceola lost Chris Thompson (106), Justin Millard (145) and Andrew Greenawalt (152), so in the end it all balances out.

On paper, Mifflin County is expected to push nine through to the Northwest Regionals next week. In addition to the Fab Freshmen, the Huskies have Isaac Underhill (120), Lucas Besch (132) and Joe Knarr (152) seeded second, followed by Daulton Wilson (106) and Kyle Kahley grabbing third seeds and Kevin Bair (138) a fourth.

If only it were that easy.

Wrestling and winning is done on the mat, not on paper. There are no free rides. No matter how good they were in the regular season, they still must survive postseason. Survive being the operative word.

“We stress every year that the first takedown is very important. You need to be the attacker, constantly scoring points,” Martin said. “We also talk about how sometimes it’s not going to be pretty. You just have to be one point ahead of the other guy and that’s all that matters. As long as you’re ahead by a point at the end you move on.

“The more guys we can get in the finals the better and it always comes down to consolations. The other element to it is picking up pins and tech falls in the early matches…that adds up as well. Hopefully, those are the things we can get.”

The tournament trail is a long and grueling affair. It taxes you not only physically but also mentally. Only the strong survive and that’s what makes this sport so special.

Mifflin County has a chance to make history and be the alpha male at the District 6 championships. Now it’s time to see if they’re up to the challenge.


Category: High School Wrestling

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