By Bill Albright
For The Daily Item
Mill Hall -- It was a road with a few bumps in it for Valley's teams as the first day of the 2012 King of the Mountain wrestling tournament came to a halt early Friday night.
The area will be represented by five wrestlers in the championship quarterfinals, three from Mifflinburg and two from Line Mountain.
Leading the Wildcats was their tenacious trio of Cole Walter, Ty Walter and Nazar Mironenko.
Cole posted a technical fall over Bellefonte's Zach Musser and a fall over Austin Schreckengast of Redbank Valley to advance, while brother Ty was nearly as dominant with a 20-8 major decision over Taylor Foster of Juniata before mauling Austin Moffett of Reynolds for a 15-0 technical fall in 2:47 in his second bout.
The third Wildcat to advance to the championship quarterfinal round, defending PIAA Class AA state champion Mironenko. After receiving a first-round bye, Mironenko tossed a 5-0 shutout at Bethlehem Catholic's Andrew Dunn.
"We thought those three would be right where they are and anything less would have been a disappointment," said Mifflinburg coach Al Fluman. "In addition to those three, we had seven more guys who were wrestling in the consolation rounds and hopefully some of them will still be wrestling (today) so we'll see what happens."
Although it is early in the season, Fluman and his assistants believe some of their wrestlers are spinning their wheels somewhat.
"Since the Top Hat and with the match last week, we are seeing what we have been seeing and that is not what I am expecting to see, obviously. There are a couple of guys who we (as coaches) know have to turn the corner. They are getting there slowly and we are seeing some improvement, but we still have a ways to go. What I am seeing is some guys who aren't confident in what they are trying to hit and we hit them every day. I know they can hit them, we know they can hit them, but they have to do it."
Three other Wildcats -- Patrick Wetzel (106), Noah Kuba (113) and Clark Wagner (138) -- won their first bout of the tournament before falling into the wrestlebacks with a loss in the Round of 16.
Line Mountain went into the first day of the tournament short-handed, as the Eagles only had a lineup of 10.
Of the ten, eight dropped their opening matches, while the other two went unscathed through two rounds to reach the championship quarterfinals.
After receiving a first-round bye, Cameron Newman picked up a win in the Round of 16 when he outpointed Central Mountain's Keanan Bottorf 5-2 while Seth Lansberry (145) eased his way into the quarters with a fall in 1:53 over Bucktail's Brian Long and a 15-0 technical fall in 4:44 over Brandon Wilson of Mifflin County.
"We saw some positive things today," said Line Mountain coach Mike Martz, "but we also saw some things that we were disappointed with that we need to work on. All in all, Cameron wrestled a great match. The kid (Central Mountain's Keanan Bottorf) placed ahead of him in the Top Hat and today, after the first period, he (Newman) pretty much controlled the match."
As for Lansberry, Martz has seen his outstanding middleweight do many good things before.
"Seth is wrestling really well," said Martz. "We come to this tournament to get some good experience and that is what the guys are getting out of it. Many times the glaring things we need to work on show up in tournaments like this one."
For Newman, he is more or less between a rock and a hard place as far as where he is wrestling.
"Cameron is still a little small for 113," Martz said. "He was a state qualifier last year at 106 and as an undersized 113-pounder, he is wrestling real well there."
While the tournament is extremely tough overall, Martz thinks 145 might be one of the toughest weight classes.
"Seth is going to be very much challenged (today)," said Martz. "There are about five or six state qualifiers in his class, a group that includes a state champion and a couple more state place-winners. He will be challenged for sure."
In addition to the quarterfinalists, other area wrestlers still alive in the wrestlebacks for a possible place are Mifflinburg's Cooper Wagner at 120 and Clark Wagner at 138 along with Erik Smeltz of Line Mountain at 182.
Wrestling continues at 10 this morning with the quarterfinals and the fourth round of consolations followed by the championship semifinals and fifth round of consolations.