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Kittanning collects comeback victory

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 10:50 p.m.
Valley's Noah Kankoski looks back as Kittanning's Elliot Zydonik suppresses him during the 160lb wrestling match at Valley High School on Wednesday December 19, 2012.
Erica Hilliard  |  Valley News Dispatch
Valley's Noah Kankoski looks back as Kittanning's Elliot Zydonik suppresses him during the 160lb wrestling match at Valley High School on Wednesday December 19, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Junior 160-pounders Elliot Zydonik and Noah Kankoski twisted and tumbled around the mat Wednesday night at Valley, each gaining then losing the psychological edge by the minute in a bout symbolic of the entire Section 3(B)-AA match between the host Vikings and Kittanning.

Zydonik trailed by a large margin midway through the dual meet's final bout. And like his Wildcats, he battled back to earn a win.

Kittanning (1-1, 1-1) claimed the match's final five bouts to complete a 39-31 comeback over Valley (1-1, 1-1). Senior 152-pounder Taylor Jack put Kittanning ahead by five in the second-to-last bout, and Zydonik, who twice narrowly avoided a potentially disastrous pin, ultimately increased the margin of victory.

“Any time we wrestle Valley, it's just a gritty, knockdown, drag-out fight, and any other day, it could've went the other way,” Kittanning coach Brandon Newill said. “They are a tough team, and I can say with certainty that we are lucky to have come out on top this time.”

Down 31-15, Kittanning began its comeback at the 132-pound weight class, where Jason Nolf prevailed with a second-period pin.

Christian Emminger earned a forfeit victory at 138, and Nick Croyle defeated C.J. Ragins, 11-7, at 145 to cut the Wildcats' deficit to one.

Jack jumped out to a 2-point lead just 27 seconds into his bout with Tristan Kubrick, and he increased the margin to 4-0 midway through the second period. But Jack, second among the Wildcats in wins this season, understood his task.

“Before I even was close to wrestling, Coach grabbed me by the head and told me I had to pin,” Jack said.

The opportune moment came just past the one-minute mark in the second period, when Jack turned Kubrick and spent the next 20 seconds working to flatten his opponent's shoulders.

“After I had three or four opportunities to do it, I knew it was going to come sooner or later,” Jack said. “I just had to work for it.”

Zydonik recognized that a match win for the Wildcats, who led by five, hinged on him avoiding a technical fall and pin.

Kankoski scored a two-point nearfall in the first period, during which he led, 6-2. And another two-point nearfall for Kankoski came in the second, when he led by as many as six points.

The Valley junior never got Zydonik flat on the mat, though. And with two reversals, a takedown and a two-point nearfall, Zydonik went on to win, 12-11.

The 160-pound bout was one of several to stir the crowd into a frenzy. Kittanning's Jacob Robb won the meet's opening bout, 11-9. And Valley's Jake Musco trailed, 10-7, in the third period of his 113-pound bout but pulled off a comeback that ended with him pinning Brody Trumbull.

“We just need to fine-tune,” Valley coach Steve Ansani said. “This is only our second match. Most of these other kids have five or six matches already. So I look at this as a good thing, but I also look at it as a bad thing. We need some more mat time, and we need some mat strategies for when you're winning and for when you need to keep yourself in a match.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-543-1303.

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