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WVC-leading Cougars Overpower Spartans

January 17, 2019
WVC-leading Cougars Overpower Spartans

HAZLE TWP. — When it was determined that Wednesday’s WVC Division I wrestling showdown with Valley West would start at 160 pounds, Hazleton Area’s advantage on paper quickly became an edge on the mats as well.

The Cougar trio of Bryce Molinaro (160), Jake Marnell (171) and Dante Matarella (182) responded with consecutive first-period falls, setting the tone for a 53-26 victory at Hughie McGeehan Gymnasium. The win upped Hazleton Area’s record to 5-0 atop the Division I standings, and moved the WVC Tournament champs one step closer to the Division I regular-season crown as well.

“I guess I’m a guy that always wants to give everybody credit,” Cougars head coach Keith Maurer said. “But I don’t have 14 guys, I have to forfeit a couple of weight classes, and when you’re dealing with 14, 15, 16, 17-year-old kids, you never know what you’re going to get, so I’m nervous all the time.

“Coach (Dave) Shafer and I ran the scenario through our heads 15 different ways, and I thought as long as we wrestled, we’re in good shape,” added Maurer. “When it was decided we were going to start at 160, I knew that’s where we’re kind of unique in the Wyoming Valley Conference this year. We’re pretty tough up top. When we started there I knew we’d get a head of steam going, and we did.”

In the midst of a solid freshman season, Molinaro (18-6) provided the start Maurer and the Cougars were looking for. He took Jaylon Brunson to his back midway through the opening period, and pinned him in 1:09 to stake the team to a quick 6-0 lead.

“The Brunson kid’s a pretty decent kid, so I wasn’t sure how that was going to go,” Maurer admitted. “Bryce went out there, took control of that match, got him on his back and pinned him. That was a big start. He got it going.”

Marnell continued the momentum at 171, controlling things from the get-go and pinning Jaden Swainbank in 50 seconds.

“Jake’s wrestling well. He’s a very methodical-type wrestler. He’s very deliberate in what he does,” Maurer said of his junior wrestler, who improved to 21-8 on the season. “He’s probably the guy that has the most matches in the room. Once he gets a guy on his back, he usually sticks him. He did that tonight, and we needed him to.”

Matarella followed suit at 182, building a 6-1 lead on Luis Rivera before getting the mat slap in 1:56. Three straight forfeits at 195, 220 and 285 upped the lead to 36-0, and the Cougars were well on their way to another win.

Ian Ratchford got the Spartans (2-2 WVC) on the board with a six-point forfeit at 106, and the Cougars’ Johnny Corra (14-6) countered with a 17-1 technical fall over Zander Remakus at 113 pounds, effectively clinching the match for Hazleton Area.

Strong at the lower weights, Valley West ran off three straight wins starting at 122, as Cadden Kucek (122) and WVC Tournament champs JJ White (126) and David Krokowski (132) all got their hand raised. However, it was not enough to deter the Cougars from their mission.

Stephen Martisofski won by fall at 138, and Cougar teammate Charles Everdale (21-5) capped the scoring with a first-period pin in the day’s final bout at 152.

“David Krokowski, JJ White and Ian Ratchford down below, they’re tough,” Maurer said. “That’s a storm you have to weather, and hopefully pick off one or two along the way, or keep them out of the bonus. I knew as long as we kept pace down below, which we did, we’d be ok.”

Perhaps the best match of the evening was at 122, when Kucek and the Cougars’ Beck Hutchison went at it for eight full minutes until a winner was decided.

Kucek got a pair of early takedowns for a quick 4-1 lead, only to see Hutchison battled back with a pair of escapes, and a takedown with 24 seconds remaining to tie things up at 5-5. At the end of that sequence, Hutchison injured his left leg and was forced to give up control, and the bout went to overtime.

Neither wrestler was able to gain control in the first one-minute overtime, and Kucek took the lead for good with a takedown 12 seconds into the second overtime. He held on from there to earn an 8-5 decision.

“Beck got down early, and that’s probably what proved to be the difference except for right there at the end,” Maurer said. “They kind of paint you in a corner when you’re injured, and that put us behind the 8-ball there a little bit, but Beck did some good things there.

“We’re trying to get him to open up. When he decides that he wants to let the fur fly, he’s going to be tough.”

The Cougars’ Luke Billig won an exhibition match by fall to conclude the night’s action.

The only unbeaten team left in the WVC’s first division, the Cougars can wrap up the title and home mat advantage to open the District 2 Class 3A Duals with wins at Berwick (0-4) today and at Nanticoke (1-4) next Wednesday.

Maurer wasn’t ready to do any celebrating just yet.

“There’s still two more matches we have to wrestle yet, Berwick and Nanticoke,” Maurer cautioned. “Things could get dicey quick. You’ve got all kinds of things that can happen.

“I would think at this point in time, maybe on paper we are favored to do that,” he added. “If that’s the way it works, we wouldn’t have to get on the bus (today). But we are getting on the bus (today).”

Dallas (4-1) kept on the Cougars’ heels in the Division I race, edging Coughlin 36-33 Wednesday.

Contact the writer:

sstallone@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3596;

@sstallone5 on Twitter

 

160 — Bryce Molinaro (HA) pin Jaylon Brunson, 1:09; 171 — Jake Marnell (HA) pin Jaden Swainbank, :50; 182 — Dante Matarella (HA) pin Luis Rivera, 1:56; 195 — Jayson Brielmeier (HA) won by forfeit; 220 — Seth Hunsinger (HA) won by forfeit; 285 — Shane Noonan (HA) won by forfeit; 106 — Ian Ratchford (VW) won by forfeit; 113 — Johnny Corra (HA) tech. fall Zander Remakus, 4:43 (17-1); 122 — Cadden Kucek (VW) dec. Beck Hutchison, 8-5 (OT); 126 — JJ White (VW) pin Jorven Rodriguez, 3:12; 132 — David Krokowski (VW) tech. fall Christian Kislan, 3:59 (16-0); 138 — Stephen Martisofski (HA) pin Justin Hargrave, 2:45; 145 — Matt Giza (VW) won by forfeit; 152 — Charles Everdale (HA) pin Trent Giza, 1:05.

Summary

Haz. Area 53, Valley West 26

160 — Bryce Molinaro (HA) pin Jaylon Brunson, 1:09; 171 — Jake Marnell (HA) pin Jaden Swainbank, :50; 182 — Dante Matarella (HA) pin Luis Rivera, 1:56; 195 — Jayson Brielmeier (HA) won by forfeit; 220 — Seth Hunsinger (HA) won by forfeit; 285 — Shane Noonan (HA) won by forfeit; 106 — Ian Ratchford (VW) won by forfeit; 113 — Johnny Corra (HA) tech. fall Zander Remakus, 4:43 (17-1); 122 — Cadden Kucek (VW) dec. Beck Hutchison, 8-5 (OT); 126 — JJ White (VW) pin Jorven Rodriguez, 3:12; 132 — David Krokowski (VW) tech. fall Christian Kislan, 3:59 (16-0); 138 — Stephen Martisofski (HA) pin Justin Hargrave, 2:45; 145 — Matt Giza (VW) won by forfeit; 152 — Charles Everdale (HA) pin Trent Giza, 1:05.

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