The Coudersport Falcons were ready to make some noise at last weekend’s District 9 Class AA individual wrestling championships, walking into Clearfield High School on Friday afternoon with seven top-four seeds and a team-championship silver medal in tow.
The bus pulled out of the parking lot the next evening with eight regional qualifiers, a gold medal for 170-pounder Isaac Wright, and a school record for team points. Defending state AA champ Brookville scored 242 points to cruise to its fourth-straight district title, but the Falcons’ superior depth allowed them to edge Ridgway for second place, 144-142.5, despite the Elkers coming away with champions in four weight classes.
“We brought 13 down here, and to get over half of those out is pretty outstanding. I think eight is the most Coudersport’s ever taken to regions,” said assistant coach Aaron Rendos, filling in while head coach John Bishel is temporarily sidelined with medical issues. “So proud of the guys. They stepped up this year. District runner-ups – they wanted to prove something, and they did.”
In addition to Wright, who outlasted top-seeded Garrett McClintick of Brockway, 2-1, in the final, the Falcons will send David Kudrick (second at 138), Gage Arnold (second at 160), Trevor Olney (third at 120), Eli Ayers (third at 182), Corey Thompson (third at 220), Dustin Kudrick (fourth at 145) and Julian Smith (fourth at 152) to Sharon this weekend. It’s the third year in a row for Arnold, who placed fourth there last year to qualify for states, while Olney, Dustin Kudrick, and Smith will each be going for the second time.
“We got eight through. Not the places I know some of these kids were hoping for, but it’s just a qualifier and we’re going to gear up for next week,” Rendos said. “It’s a whole new ballgame when we add District 10. I’m confident. We’ve wrestled twice in District 10, so we’re familiar with some of the kids and some of the styles they have. So the goal is to keep moving on. The top four from there go to states, so we’re hoping to get just as many through to the next level.”
Wright (28-9), starting from the No. 3 seed at 170, opened with a fall over Adam Sicher (Kane) in 3:48, then needed just 1:00 to flatten Seth Nellis (Clarion) in the quarterfinals. Facing sixth-seeded Braden MacBeth (Brookville) in the semis, Wright got the only takedown in a 3-2 decision, sending him into his first D-9 medal-round match.
“It was really intimidating, going up against a first seed. And Brockway, they’re so well-schooled, they have a great wrestling program,” he said of facing McClintick. “But I just knew if I wrestled my match and I kind of kept my head about me, I think the biggest thing was to not look at the outcome, to focus on the here-and-now inside the match. That’s what’s most important.”
In the final, Wright once again jumped out to an early lead, then held on for dear life to claim the top spot on the podium.
“We knew coming into that match, that kid was tough on top,” Rendos said. “So I told (Isaac), we’re going to keep it on our feet the whole time. I said, ‘You’re comfortable on your feet.’ Got the takedown in the second period, which put us up by two. Then he chose top in the third, so we had to fend him off pretty good to win a district title.”
For the final two minutes, McClintick tried everything he could to tilt Wright and get the back points he needed to flip the score in his favor, but the Falcon junior managed to thwart his attempts.
“I’ll definitely admit I was purposely stalling just a little bit,” he confessed, grinning. “I knew I was up, and I knew if I could just hang on, I’d be able to accomplish something that not a lot of people can say they’ve done. But you know, a win’s a win, as my coach just told me. So all in all, I’m just happy with the way it turned out. Actually, I didn’t know if I had won or not. I thought I had a lot more time, another 20 seconds. In fact, as soon as the buzzer rang, I stood up and looked at my coach and I said, ‘Did I win?’
“It was thrilling. It was something I’ve honestly never felt before. It was really incredible. I’m just happy for the opportunity to be here and wrestle with my team. All of our guys have come so far, and it’s such a big payoff for the work we’ve put into it. I’m definitely excited, and I’m not ready to stop working. I want to keep going, and I want to press as hard as I absolutely can and really show the guys at regionals what I’m made of, what our team is made of.”
Arnold (33-1), the only unbeaten wrestler entering the weekend, pinned his way to the 160-pound finals, decking Brent Rodney (Sheffield) in 1:30, Eben Wry (Cranberry) in 5:11, and fourth-seeded Teddy Race (Kane) in 2:56 in the semis. The championship match was against Port Allegany junior Jake Kallenborn, a longtime friend who Arnold had beaten twice in close matches earlier in the season. After a scoreless opening period, Arnold started the second on top, but Kallenborn managed to escape. A scramble led to an Arnold takedown, but Kallenborn wriggled free again, and the match went to the third tied 2-2. This time, it was the Coudy senior escaping from the bottom to go up 3-2, but with both wrestlers battling for position in the final few seconds, Kallenborn got the 2 just before the buzzer to hand Arnold his first loss.
“That’s the third time they wrestled this year, and it’s been one or two points each time, so you know it could go either way,” Rendos said. “It’s a tough loss for him. He’s been under the weather for the past couple days, but he’ll regroup, come back. He’s a tough kid.
“At the end of the match, we need to learn to close those matches out without getting into scrambles, getting put in a position where we have an opportunity to lose, put ourselves into a position where we have an opportunity to win. He’ll learn his lesson, and we’ll go into next week tougher than this week, and hopefully feeling a lot better.”
David Kudrick (30-7), the No. 2 seed at 138, earned his silver by pinning Josh Rees (Port A) and Jacob Cable (Brookville) to get to the semis, then rolling to a 7-1 win over third-seeded Oswayo Valley sophomore Isaiah Barney. In the championship match, No. 1 seed Logen McClain (Ridgway) managed the only takedown in a 3-1 decision.
Second-seeded Olney, Ayers, and Thompson each fell to the No. 3 seed in their semifinal matches but won out to take bronze, while Smith placed fourth to match his seeding and Dustin Kudrick knocked off fourth-seeded Tyler Watts (Johnsonburg) in the quarterfinals to put himself in medal contention.
So now it’s on to Sharon … and, after that, back to Hershey?
“We’ll be set to go,” Rendos said. “Our guys are really ramping up, they’re getting ready. They were pumped about this week and we did well, and I’m going to get them up for next week.”
Oswayo Valley sent three top-four seeds to Clearfield, and the same number of Green Wave wrestlers will move on to Sharon.
“Not as good as we’d hoped, but it’s still good. Still going. That’s the goal, to get to the next round,” coach Denny Bloss said. “We’re okay. We had six into the second day, and the kids wrestled hard, wrestled well.”
Junior Dylan Pesock dropped a tough 4-2 decision in the 106-pound semifinals, then ran up against Port sophomore Reese Vollmer, a longtime friend and practice partner, in the third-place match.
“We see those guys a lot. They come over in the summer, they practice a lot with us,” Gator coach B.J. Greenman said. “So you know your opponent, but it’s not an advantage to either of them because they both know each other. They wrestle all the time, so their matches are always going to be close, but you don’t really know which way they’re going to go.”
This one was their closest yet. After three periods and three overtimes, the score was deadlocked at 3-3, sending the match into the ultimate tiebreaker round. With Pesock starting on top, Vollmer managed the escape for the 4-3 win.
After falling to David Kudrick in the semifinals, sophomore 138-pounder Isaiah Barney didn’t lose another match, downing fourth-seeded C. J. Shreffler (Cranberry) for the bronze. At 182, West dropped a tough 8-4 decision to eventual silver medalist Kaleb Witherite (Curwensville) in the quarters, then wrestled his way back before being edged by Ayers, 2-1, in the third-place bout.
It’s the second consecutive trip to regionals for Pesock and West, a senior, while Barney (third at 138) will be making his first appearance.
“So if that means we get four next year, that would be pretty nice, but we’ll wait and see,” Bloss said with a grin.
District 9 Class AA
Brookville (Bkv) 242, Coudersport (Cou) 144, Ridgway (Rdg) 142.5, Kane 96.5, Brockway (Bkw) 81, Curwensville (Cv) 73, Cranberry (Cr) 64, Redbank Valley (RV) 63, Port Allegany (PA) 62, Bradford (Brad) 60.5, Clarion (Cl) 56, Oswayo Valley (OV) 50.5, Johnsonburg (J) 41, Keystone (Key) 30, Smethport (Sm) 28, Sheffield (Sh) 13, Cameron County 0.
106: Anthony Glasl (Bkw) 3:46 Zach Holland (Cv)
113: Keelan Kunselman (Bkv) 7-5 Kyle Bush (Rdg)
120: Gavin Park (Bkv) 1:11 Hunter Martz (RV)
126: Bryce Barclay (Rdg) 3-0 Noah Blankenship (Kane)
132: Lukas McClain (Rdg) 11-0 Devon Norlin (J)
138: Logen McClain (Rdg) 3-1 David Kudrick (Cou)
145: Dillon Keane (Brad) 4-2 Alec English (Kane)
152: Caleb Hetrick (Bkv) 7-6 Aiden Hulings (Kane)
160: Jacob Kallenborn (PA) 4-3 Gage Arnold (Cou)
170: Isaac Wright (Cou) 2-1 Garrett McClintick (Bkw)
182: Noah Cieleski (Bkv) TF 15-0 5:49 Kaleb Witherite (Cv)
195: Xavier Molnar (Bkv) 0:55 Tyler Van Tassel (Key)
220: Tyler Cook (Bkv) 8-1 Tom Wurster (Cl)
285: Colton McClain (Rdg) 5-4 UTB Stephen McClure (Cv)
106: Reese Vollmer (PA) 4-3 UTB Dylan Pesock (OV)
113: Blake Passarelli (Cv) 8-3 Mason Songer (RV)
120: Trevor Olney (Cou) 2:52 Luke Tomaski (Rdg)
126: Kai Sorbin (Bkv) 12-2 Trey Stiles (PA)
132: Dontae Constable (Bkv) 2-1 Tyler Thompson (Brad)
138: Isaiah Barney (OV) 4-2 C.J. Shreffler (Cr)
145: Josh Hancock (Cr) 6-2 Dustin Kudrick (Cou)
152: Mike LeFay (Cl) 4-3 Julian Smith (Cou)
160: Caleb Peace (Bkv) 4-3 Teddy Race (Kane)
170: Braden MacBeth (Bkv) 2-1 UTB Akete Kindle (Sm)
182: Eli Ayers (Cou) 2-1 Grant West (OV)
195: Ty Stahli (Kane) 2-0 Ben Smith (Cl)
220: Corey Thompson (Cou) 9-7 Justin Smith (Bkw)
285: Timmy McCauley (Cr) 10-7 Colby Whitehill (Bkv)
Tentative regional matchups for Coudy/OV wrestlers:
106: 9-4 Dylan Pesock (Oswayo Valley, JR, 22-5) vs. 10-5 10-5 Logan Jaquay (Eisenhower, FR, 26-12)
– 10-1 Beau Bayless (Reynolds, SO, 27-4 )
120: 9-3 Trevor Olney (Coudersport, SR, 25-11) vs. 10-2 Kenneth Kiser (Saegertown, FR, 36-7)
138: 9-2 David Kudrick (Coudersport, JR, 30-7) vs. 10-3 Hunter Wagner (Titusville, SR, 30-4 )
138: 9-3 Isaiah Barney (Oswayo Valley, SO, 25-6) vs. 10-2 Mike Doerflinger (Slippery Rock, JR, 21-4 )
145: 9-4 Dustin Kudrick (Coudersport, JR, 28-10) vs. 10-5 Cole Ruffo (Hickory, JR, 26-12)
– winner to face 10-1 John Mott (Commodore Perry, SR, 32-5)
152: 9-4 Julian Smith (Coudersport, JR, 8-5) vs. 10-5 Spencer Head (Eisenhower, JR, 31-6)
– winner to face 10-1 Cameron Prebble (Sharpsville, JR, 30-4 )
160: 9-2 Gage Arnold (Coudersport, SR, 34-1) vs. 10-3 Joe Galvin (Iroquois, JR, 28-4)
170: 10-4 Nick Enos (Sharpsville, SR, 30-9) vs. 10-6 Jarrett Ruhl (Saegertown, SR, 28-19)
– winner to face 9-1 Isaac Wright (Coudersport, JR, 28-9)
182: 9-3 Elijah Ayers (Coudersport, SO, 29-8) vs. 10-2 Julian Gorring (Fort LeBoeuf, SO, 35-6)
182: 9-4 Grant West (Oswayo Valley, SR, 20-8) vs. 10-5 Khalil Messai (Jamestown, JR, 30-4)
– winner to face 10-1 Cody Mulligan (Saegertown, JR, 39-3)
220: 9-3 Corey Thompson (Coudersport, SR, 27-10) vs. 10-2 Tyler Zebrovious Lakeview, JR, 28-6