By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — Athens won four of the five bouts to go a full six minutes, and registered four key falls in a 36-33 win over Towanda here Thursday night in NTL wrestling action.
Athens coach Shawn Bradley see things coming together for the Wildcats, who improve to 8-2 on the season, and 5-0 in the NTL. Towanda (10-5) falls to 4-1 in the league.
“Overall, it was a total team effort,” he said. “It’s a good win, we’re starting to come around.”
Senior Alex West put Athens ahead 6-0 out of the gate with a pin of Lacin Terry in 4:22 at 182 pounds, but Towanda’s Clay Watkins edged junior Ben Pernaselli, 4-3, at 195 pounds, and Aaron Herlt received the match’s only forfeit at 220 pounds to give the Black Knights their only lead of the night, at 9-6.
After senior Keegan Braund forged a 5-3 decision over Towanda’s Alex Perez at 285 pounds to tie the match, junior Kyler Setzer decked Shane Atwood in 1:28 at 113 pounds to give the Wildcats a 15-9 lead.
“It’s a good win for Keegan, but he has to dig a little deeper,” said Bradley. “He could have had a fall there.
“We need some of those guys to step up and get points,” he added. “Team-wise, it worked out, but we need to close some matches out and score extra points where we can get them.”
Prior to the match, the Black Knights won the coin toss, which forced Athens to send their 113-pounder out to the mat first. Bradley chose freshman Jake Courtney (8-5), and elected to hold returning state place-winner sophomore Gavin Bradley (17-1) for 120 pounds. Towanda sent out senior Tyler Hawley, who was 13-6 on the season.
“We have two 113-pounders. One is a sixth-place state medalist, and the other is a freshman,” said Bradley. “We knew what (Towanda) was going to do if they won the toss, they were going to send (Hawley) out against Jake.
“We said if it happens, we have faith in Jake,” noted Bradley. “And, we lost the toss again.
“We definitely wanted Gavin against Hawley, who is a stud, but Jake wrestled a good match, and picked up a big win,” added Bradley. “I’m telling you, Jake Courtney is going to be a hammer.”
Gavin Bradley took care of business at 120 pounds with a pin of MyKee Nowell in 1:37 to extend the lead to 24-9.
Sophomore Kaden Setzer kept it rolling for the Wildcats with a pin of Garrett Chapman in 62 seconds at 126 pounds to give the Wildcats a 30-9 lead, but the Black Knights received consecutive falls from Wyatt Delamater, Skyler Allen, and Evan Johnson at 132, 138, and 145 pounds, respectively, to close the gap to 30-27.
Sophomore Karter Rude, normally a 145-pounder, earned a hard-fought, 8-2, decision over Joseph Vanderpool at 152 pounds to give Athens a 33-27 lead with just two weight classes remaining.
“Karter’s dealing with some things now, but he gutted out a big win for us,” said Bradley.
Junior Zach Stafursky built an 8-0 lead through two periods, but was put on his back via a headlock by Will Bowen early in the third period. He was able to reverse Bowen, and win a 12-6 decision that sealed the Wildcat victory.
“Zach (Stafursky) stepped up and beat a tough kid,” said Bradley, although he admits the third-period headlock did cause a bit of anxiety.
“I’ve been struggling with Zach because he says he can’t hear me, and maybe he can’t.” laughed Bradley. “I told him right before the end of the second period, ‘don’t roll across your back,’ and he rolled across his back.
“In the third period, I told him to ‘grab a wrist or you’re going to get headlocked,’ and he ties up and gets headlocked,” noted Bradley. “But, he fought through it, which is a testament to him.
“Zach works hard,” added Bradley. “It was a big win, and he is deserving of everything he earns.”
Towanda’s Spencer Jennings scored a first-period pin at 170 pounds to provide the final margin.
Athens returns to action Saturday at the Husky Duals at Mifflin County High School, then hosts Canton, also 5-0 in the NTL, Tuesday night.
IN PHOTO 1: Athens junior Zach Stafursky and Towanda’s Will Bowen. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
ATHENS 36, TOWANDA 33
182: Alex West (A) by fall over Lacin Terry (T), 4:22;
195: Clay Watkins (T) dec. Ben Pernaselli (A), 4-3;
220: Aaron Herlt (T) by forfeit;
285: Keegan Braund (A) dec. Alex Perez (T), 5-3;
106: Kyler Setzer (A) by fall over Shane Atwood (T), 1:28;
113: Jacob Courtney (A) dec. Tyler Hawley (T), 9-6;
120: Gavin Bradley (A) by fall over MyKee Nowell (T), 1:37;
126: Kaden Setzer (A) by fall over Garrett Chapman (T), 1:02;
132: Wyatt Delamater (T) by fall over Lucas Forbes (A), 1:05;
138: Skyler Allen (T) by fall over Brandon Jennings (A), 2:17;
145: Evan Johnson (T) by fall over Warner Dorman (A), 1:26;
152: Karter Rude (A) dec. Joseph Vanderpool (T), 8-2;
160: Zach Stafursky (A) dec. Will Bowen (T), 12-6;
170: Spencer Jennings (T) by fall over Riley Hall (A), 1:37.
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