SAEGERTOWN — Saegertown met with adversity twice on Tuesday, but each time, the Panthers persevered to rally for a 33-27 win over Eisenhower during Region 3 wrestling action.

The first bit of adversity came before the match even started. The public address announcer asked everyone to stand for the National Anthem, and dead silence. A few minutes passed before the Panthers and head coach Jim Mulligan took matters into their own hands, singing the anthem themselves to start the dual meet.

The next bit of adversity took place when Saegertown found itself down 19-3 after just six matches.

“We started in a bad spot, so it took a while to get things going,” said Mulligan. “I was a little worried. I knew we were in trouble at 160, 171 ... But I was very confident we would get some pins through the lineup.”

As it turned out, Mulligan had nothing to worry about.

Sean Byham gave his team some momentum with a dominant performance at 112 pounds. The sophomore jumped out to a 2-0 lead with the only takedown in the first period. After choosing down to start the second, Byham quickly scored a reversal and three back points on Eisenhower’s Dylan Baker. It was over soon after, as Byham collected the pin at 2:54.

“Getting that pin got us fired up,” said Mulligan. “And I think it took some wind out of their sails.”

Justin Mitchell (119) and Dakota Schultz (125) added a decision and major decision, respectively.

That’s when sophomore Kurtis Henry sent the crowd into a fury. Henry and Ike’s Vinnie Gardner got into a scramble near the center of the mat. When the action died down, Henry was on top with a takedown. A little jostling by the 130-pounder and he finally got Gardner on his back for the fall at 1:50 to give Saegertown its first lead, 22-19.

Adam Armstrong (135) won by forfeit before Tim Clark sealed the match away.

Clark, a 140-pound junior, didn’t leave anything to chance. He scored a takedown and rolled Eisenhower’s Ben Wilson to his back twice, scoring six back points in the process for an 8-0 lead. In the second period, he added a reversal and six more back points. The only blemish, a penalty point for an illegal head lock. Final result: a 16-1 technical fall in 4:00.

“This is a young team,” said Mulligan. “You have to win tight matches like this. I am happy with the win.”

Even though the wins were big, the two biggest keys may have came in losses.

Sophomore Matt Stearns (171) and freshman Branden Stafford (285) did some remarkable work in their losses. Stearns, facing a beast in the Knight’s David Osborne, found himself on his back twice, avoiding the pin each time. He lost by major decision, 12-1, but saved the Panthers two bonus points.

Stafford then landed on his back — almost as flat as a pancake — with nearly a minute left in the second period. The freshman didn’t struggled with everything he had to avoid the pin. In fact, he saved three bonus points by only allowing a decision.

“Stearns was a tough battle,” said Mulligan. “And Stafford is a freshman heavyweight in his first varsity match. I think they are going to be pretty special.”

The win was the start of a rough week for the Panthers, who travel to face Ft. LeBoeuf today before suiting up for this weekend’s Tool City Tournament.

“We need this,” said Mulligan. “We haven’t had much mat time until now.”

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