MEYERSDALE – Trevor Donaldson would have loved to have gotten a chance to wrestle Nathan Pelesky in Thursday night’s big WestPAC dual meet but getting a victory for his Meyersdale teammates was important to him.
Meyersdale coach Craig Tresnicky had his sophomore bump up a weight class, where Donaldson got a pin in the final bout to help the Red Raiders defeat defending conference champion North Star 41-34.
“I wanted to wrestle Pelesky, but it’s the coach’s decision,” Donaldson said. “I didn’t really have a choice. Coach said it’s for the match and all you can do is agree.”
Pelesky vs. Donaldson is just one of the potential highlight matches that never materialized in the dual.
“It would be nice if you could just wrestle the matches and forget the team score stuff, but we don’t beat North Star often,” Tresnicky said. “It’s big for us. It’s been awhile. You can look at the banners in their gym. They’ve got all of the county and WestPAC championships every year.
“They’re tough to take down.”
The Cougars were missing a few starters, including Alec Supanick, a state qualifier a year ago who coach Tim Rosa said was “a little banged up.” Not that Rosa was looking for excuses.
“We’re like three guys down, but that’s not the reason we lost,” he said.
The turning point in the dual came at 195 pounds, where Jonah Smith bumped a weight class, fell behind Bryce Salyers 4-0 in the first period, then reversed the North Star wrestler and pinned him just before the buzzer sounded in a stunning turn of events.
“I was kind of scared at first, getting in the cradle,” Smith said. “I thought I was going to tip over a few times. But then, when I felt a little bit of the momentum going toward his hip, I just locked it up, tossed it in. The next thing I knew, I was on top of him. I was like, ‘I can’t believe I just won one of the biggest matches of the night.’ ”
And arguably one of the biggest in years for the Red Raiders (11-1). Meyersdale now has the inside track in the race for the WestPAC title.
Tresnicky’s team will be favored to beat Portage on Jan. 16, but a trip to rival Berlin Brothersvalley on Jan. 21 could prove tricky. North Star (7-3) has already beaten the Mountaineers twice.
The Cougars jumped out to a quick lead, as Eli Brougher needed just 57 seconds to lock up a cradle and pin Noah Wilt. Brougher improved to 16-1 this season with 11 falls and four wins via forfeit.
“He’s long, he’s pretty tall for his weight class, and he’s dangerous,” North Star coach Tim Rosa said. “Right now, he’s wrestling pretty well. We’ve got to keep building and moving forward. We’ll find out more this weekend (at the Midwinter Mayhem tournament). So far though, I’ve been proud of him.”
Nick Ackerman received a forfeit at 132 pounds to tie the dual at 6. Ackerman is now 9-2.
The deadlock didn’t last long, as Cameron Snoeberger pinned Pablo Quinto-Martinez at 138 to put the Cougars up 12-6.
North Star freshman Logan Reffner built a 7-1 lead in the first period against Matt Boyce, but he couldn’t come up with a fall and had to settle for an 11-1 major decision.
Kolton Furry’s first-period pin of Collin Krause extended North Star’s lead to 22-6, but the Red Raiders were just getting to the strength of their lineup.
Meyersdale’s Austin Broadwater improved to 19-1 on the season with a 7-4 victory over Logan Lisbon at 160 pounds. Clinging to 3-2 lead in the third period, Broadwater did a nice job of keeping his toes in bounds on a takedown on the edge.
A locking-hands call and an escape brought Lisbon within a point, but his desperation attempt in the final seconds resulted in another Broadwater takedown.
Red Raiders senior Drake Gindlesperger upped his record to 18-3 with a 13-0 victory over Colby Vinisky at 170.
North Star was forced to forfeit to Kyle Robertson at 182 pounds as the Red Raiders cut the deficit to three points at 22-19.
“I hate forfeiting any time,” Rosa said. “I don’t think it’s good for us to forfeit. Forfeiting to Ackerman (at 132) wasn’t what we wanted to do, but you’re in it to win. You have to make the moves that are best for the kids and the team in general. They had more options tonight.”
Smith’s pin put Meyersdale up 25-22.
Bryant Most extended the lead and improved his record to 16-2 on the season with a 14-0 victory over Alex Wojnarowski at 220.
Jalen Stephens, who is ranked as the No. 2 heavyweight in the state by PA Power Wrestling, needed just 28 seconds to pin Gabe Foy and push Meyersdale’s advantage to 35-22 with three bouts to go.
A Columbia commit, Stephens is 13-0 this season.
Meyersdale didn’t have a 106-pounder, so Thanyal Miller picked up six points the easy way and Pelesky followed suit.
Donaldson sealed the fate of North Star, which has ruled the conference for the past few years.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Rosa said. “We had to make some moves. We stretched ourselves out. They had a couple more than us in the end. Congratulations to them.”
Despite the loss, Rosa saw plenty of good things from his team.
“There’s a lot of positives to take out of it,” he said.
“It’s how you respond. It’s how you move on from here. Hopefully we catch them again at district duals with a little different lineup.”