By Pete Chiodo
There are those motivational posters that everybody recognizes — the ones with the picture of a soaring eagle or a snow-capped mountain peak and some inspirational slogan printed in the black frame at the bottom.
Well, the Saegertown wrestling team has its own motivational posters, donated — it’s assumed — by a fan or somebody involved with the Fort LeBoeuf wrestling team.
“We came in Tuesday and they had Bison wrestling signs all over the place, hung on our school,” said Saegertown head coach Jim Mulligan. “We have them down in the wrestling room right now. That’s very disrespectful when that happens. So they’re staying up in the wrestling room, these signs, until we beat them. That’s what we want.”
The signs will continue to hang in the wrestling room for at least the next couple months after LeBoeuf defeated the Panthers 34-20 during a well-fought Region 3 dual match on Tuesday at Saegertown High School.
The Panthers (0-1, 0-1 Region 3) now hope to see the Bison (1-1, 1-0) a couple months from now in the District 10 Class AA duals.
“We want what they have and we’re not going to stop until we get it,” said Mulligan. “Their day is coming. It really is. We want it this year. We don’t want to wait. People always say wait until ... no. We don’t want to wait. The time is now.”
Last night’s attempt by Saegertown to unseat the Bison, the reigning D-10 team champions, started off well enough.
In the 145-pound bout, Saegertown junior Matt Humes took on LeBoeuf senior Jack Middleton. Neither wrestler scored through the first two periods. And the third was just about to expire with a scoreless tie when Humes rolled over top of Middleton for a reversal at the very last second.
“It was a great win for Matt,” said Mulligan. “Matt learned that when you stand up off the bottom late in the match, good things happen.”
LeBoeuf’s Brad Malinowski tied up the match after another close bout at 152. He and Saegertown’s Aaron Jackson were tied 2-2 after two periods. Jackson gave Malinowski an automatic escape to start the third, and that point proved to be the difference as the LeBoeuf junior fended off Jackson’s attacks the rest of the way.
The Bison then made it 9-3 with back-to-back decisions by 160-pounder Taylor Harrington (6-1 over Lance Neuscheler) and Taylor Fox (5-1 over Jeremy Mitchell).
Saegertown then retook the lead with wins in the next two bouts. At 182, Brock Henderson used three back points late in the third period to beat LeBoeuf’s Eli Humes 5-2. Then Dylan Reynolds, at 195, scored the first bonus points of the match when he scored a 12-1 major decision over Greg Salusky.
Saegertown now led 10-9. But that lead was quickly wiped away after the Panthers forfeited 220 and 285.
“Those are two big guns,” said Mulligan, referring to LeBoeuf’s 220-pounder Evan Daley and heavyweight Nate Conti. “They’re tough guys. Daley could be a state champ. I think Conti is a top-five guy. We would have had to have a couple tough hombres. We had a couple young kids we could have brought up. But we’re not ready to wrestle those guys yet.”
At 106, Ohio transfer Devin Brown got Saegertown back on the scoreboard with an impressive debut for the Panthers, majoring LeBoeuf freshman Isaac Bengal 16-3.
However, the Panthers gave the four points right back when Bison freshman Jarrette Carter majored Panthers sophomore Bing Bong Elizon 11-0 at 113.
LeBoeuf now led 25-14 with four matches to go. And Panthers sophomore Tyler Vath did his part at 120, notching a 7-1 decision over LeBoeuf junior Tyler Kuzma. Then Garrett Zuver, another sophomore, trimmed LeBoeuf’s lead to 25-20 by edging LeBoeuf junior Adam Borgia 3-2 in the 126-pound class.
“Vath looked tough,” Mulligan said. “Kuzma is a beast. He knows how to keep matches close. But (Vath) controlled the match. ... And Zuver stepped it up. Big win for him.”
A crucial 132-pound bout pitted LeBoeuf junior George McGuire against freshman Nick Monico. Monico started out strong, nearly getting a takedown on McGuire in the first. He couldn’t finish it however, and McGuire ended up rolling to a 7-0 victory.
“That was a big win there,” said LeBoeuf head coach Tim Simon. “It kind of put the dual out of reach for Saegertown.”
In the final match of the night, Panthers sophomore Kris Whitman led LeBoeuf’s Shane Newell 4-1 in the second period. But starting the period on top, Newell got the headlock on Whitman and turned him over for a fall in 1:29.
“We won matches that I didn’t think we were going to win, and we lost matches that I thought we were going to win,” Mulligan said. “That’s what happens in big dual meets. There were a lot of nerves, big crowd.
“But we’re getting there,” he added. “We’re young. I mean, there were seven sophomores, a freshman and a junior out there. That’s a lot of underclassmen. We left a lot of points out there. And we gave up some bonus points when we shouldn’t have. But you know what, we wrestled hard. That’s what we as coaches are always stressing. And we’ll get better.”