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Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — Athens rode falls and forfeits past Bloomsburg for a 48-24 victory here Thursday night, leveling its early-season dual meet record at 1-1.

Victory was not the main goal, however.

"At this point in the season it's early, so I'm not really sure it matters either way," Athens coach Shawn Bradley said. "It's nice for the kids to be able to wrestle again and improve on some stuff from the other night.

"You can't determine anything from the second match of the season, but some of the kids made some adjustments," added Bradley. "There's still a long way to go. It's going to be a long season, but a short season, so we've got to come around quick."

The Wildcats captured seven consecutive bouts to turn a nine-point deficit into a 48-15 bulge — highlighted by pins from Jake Courtney at 126 pounds, Kaden Setzer at 138 and Chris Bathgate at 152.

Courtney turned a close call into a win with 15 seconds remaining in the second period. He scored the initial takedown against against the Panthers' unbeaten Ashton Horan (2-0), but got caught in a headlock while attempting to turn Horan with a cradle and found himself down, 5-2.

Trailing, 5-3, Courtney hit a reversal seven seconds into the second period to tie the match. He cut Horan loose with 30 seconds left in the period, took him to the mat seven seconds later and posted the fall at 3:45 for a 24-15 advantage.

"Jake had a tough match the other night. He wrestled up and wrestled the Ferguson kid from Canton, so that was good that we got him that match," coach Bradley said. "That kid was a little squirrelly. He was kind of unorthodox, so it's good to wrestle those kids once in a while, but he did a nice job not getting down on himself. After that first headlock he might not having been breathing very well, but I thought he did a good job fighting back."

Setzer grabbed an 8-3 lead over Jake Klingerman, cutting him loose three times, while bringing him to the mat on four occasions. The last, with Klingerman ending up on his back with his arms hooked, resulted in a fall at 1:19, giving the home team a 35-16 cushion.

Bathgate used a takedown and cradle to for a 5-0 lead, then used another cradle to dispatch Jesse James in 1:53, scoring Athens' final points for a 48-15 advantage.

The Wildcat scoring blitz started with the hosts behind, 15-6, but forfeits to Gavin Bradley (113) and Mason Vanderpool (120) put Athens on top, 18-15. Layla Bennett (132) and Lucas Forbes (145) contributed forfeits during the run as well.

Courtney wasn't the only Wildcat to rally after giving up five early points. Josh Nittinger (285) fell behind, 5-0, when Bloomsburg's Brody Hock locked up a standing nearside cradle. Nittinger survived the scare, chalked up a reversal and put Hock on his back for the pin at 1:30.

"He's going to be good," coach Bradley said. "He's a freshman, so he's going to be really good. He's got tough partners every day in the room, so he has no choice but to get better. He's going to be a good one and he's a battler. He's a great athlete for a kid that size. He keeps it moving, he keeps wrestling. That's what matters there. "

The Panthers opened the night with a pair of wins for a 9-0 lead as Aaron Williams pinned Josiah Stringham in 32 seconds at 189 and Tanner Mattern decisioned Colin Rosh, 7-2, at 215.

Following Nittinger's fall, Bloomsburg made it 15-6 on a forfeit to Laif Trivelpiece at 106.

Bloomsburg's other wins were unbeaten Nick Wharton's 7-2 decision over Karter Rude and Stephen Roeder's 55-second pin of Zach Stafursky. Wharton accounted for three of four takedowns in the bout, but Bradley doesn't think Wharton was the better of the two on their feet.

"I don't think he was," he said. "He had two pass-bys, which Karter kind of fell into, but overall I think Karter controlled the match most of the time on his feet. The kid was running out-of-bounds the whole time.

"We wrestle that kid 10 times I think we win eight, but that wasn't meant to be today and Karter will learn from it," added Bradley. "Again, the second match of the season, so nothing to be won or lost there."

In exhibition matches, Josh Courtney, Ryan LaSusa, and Nittinger tallied first-period falls.

Athens travels to the Berwick Duals Saturday.



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