By Bill Albright
For The Daily Item
MILL HALL —
Going into the second day of the King of the Mountain Wrestling Tournament, Line Mountain and Mifflinburg had combined to have four wrestlers still alive for a possible medal in the meat grinder affair.
Two of the four wrestlers were still alive for possible gold medal in Wildcats Cole Walter (152 pounds) and Nazar Mironenko (285).
However, when the smoke cleared, the two teams had compiled three medalists, but a group that included no champions.
Mifflinburg led the way with a pair of semifinalists in Walter and Mironenko, but only Mironenko would reach the finals.
“This tournament exposes weaknesses and when then happens now, we hope to correct them to get ready for March,” said Mifflinburg head coach Dave Murray. “Overall, I guess finding out the areas we need to improve on is a good experience, not only for these two, but for all of our guys through the entire lineup.”
In his first bout of the day, Walter was doubled up on by Mason Bentzel of Spring Grove by a 4-2 count, while Mironenko squeaked past Scot Augustine of McDowell.
Shaking off the effects of his loss, Walter battled back to down Benton’s Dominic Vitale, 8-4, before taking care of Mifflinburg County’s Noah Stewart by a 3-1 final to finish third.
“He (Walter) is a real motivated kid right now who is experimenting with workouts,” said Murray. “He is working harder than any kid I have ever had in the (wrestling) room and I just think at this point in time he might have had himself over-trained feeling sore and achy. When he gets to wrestle through it, it makes him stronger for the next tournament. If it (the loss) did anything it made him tougher.”
After squeaking past Augustine in the semis, Mironenko was paired against Burrell’s Allan Beattie.
The two heavyweights battled each in a dead heat for most of the six minutes until Beattie prevailed for the title, 4-2.
“There was definitely a lack of offense in his match,” said Murray about his heavyweight. “The calls that went the way they did were all correct. He has to generate on clearing that ankle and get more aggressive with his shots.”
Carrying the banner into the second day of the tournament for the Eagles were Brian Earlston and Collin Klinger.
Earlston dropped his first bout of the day, 5-2, to finish one win short of the medal round, while Klinger kept his hopes alive to stand on the medal stand when he decked Dubois’s Brock Adams in 3:57 in his first action of the day.
However, following his win over Adams, things went downhill for the Eagle as he dropped an 8-3 decision to Hempfield’s Vincent Distefanis before finishing eighth with a loss by fall in 1:56 to South Western’s Chase Mowery.
“That is the third time the same kid has beaten him this year,” said Line Mountain head coach Mike Martz about Mowery. “We just talked with him and reminded him that he had a good tournament. He wrestled hard and you can’t ask for any more from him than that. We saw some things we need to work on to correct, but that is why we are here.”
As for the losses getting to Klinger’s mindset, Martz doesn’t think that is the case.
“I don’t think that is it because he beat the kid from Jersey Shore who is wrestling for fifth place,” Martz pointed out. “I think he is right there. He just needs to keep working hard.”
In terms of team standings, Mifflinburg finished 26th with 56.5 points, while Line Mountain wound up 32nd with 29 points. Bethlehem Catholic won the team title with 10 place winners for 201 points.