Mustangs fare well at New Oxford
The Plum varsity wrestling team suffered a 37-30 loss to Pittsburgh Central Catholic in its Section 3 finale on Jan. 16, and the loss knocked them out of the section team playoffs.
That left the Mustangs with nine days to refocus and prepare for Saturday's New Oxford Tournament, and head coach Mike Supak said his wrestlers responded well.
“We controlled our own destiny, and we knew if we had won, we'd be in the section playoffs,” Supak said.
“We told the guys not to worry about what could've been. We had our shot and weren't able to pull it off. But we knew we had a lot more to prepare for, including long tournaments with a lot of quality wrestlers.”
Plum turned in six top-eight finishes at New Oxford, as senior Jake DiGuilio and sophomore Nate Turchick each placed third.
Juniors Andy McRandal (170) and Eric Green (138) placed fifth and sixth, respectively, while junior Stephen Turchick (heavyweight) took seventh and freshman Tony DiNinno (106) earned eighth.
DiGuilio, Nate Turchick, McRandal and Green each earned their second top-eight medal at the New Oxford Tournament in as many attempts, and all four improved on their finishes from 2012.
The tournament originally was set for two days, but the rough weather on Friday pushed all the matches to Saturday.
“The schools in the east were canceling evening activities because a lot of the heaviest snow fell later in the afternoon,” Supak said.
“We have a pretty close-knit group of guys. They relaxed and thought about Saturday's matches. It wasn't a big problem for them.”
A single wrestler isn't permitted to wrestle more than five times in one day, so tournament officials had to change some things in the consolation rounds. All the wrestlers who lost in the round of 16 were placed in a separate consolation bracket for ninth place.
“Guys like Tommy Zummo, Zach Martin and Hunter Fenk wrestled tough guys right from the start,” Supak said. “They lost competitive matches in the first round.”
Zummo, a freshman, and Martin, a sophomore, each rebounded to win three matches in the ninth-place bracket at 120 and 152, respectively, to claim ninth.
Fenk made it to the last match in the ninth-place bracket at 145 but suffered a 7-5 loss.
Nate Turchick went 2-1 in the championship bracket with 5-0 and 6-0 decision victories and a tough 5-1 loss to eventual champion Derek Matoni of West Chester Henderson in the semifinals.
Turchick bounced back with a 3-2 win over New Oxford's Charlie Hoffman in the third-place bout, and he improved to 16-7 on the season.
“Nate wrestled really tough the whole tournament,” Supak said.
“He's wrestling with more confidence. Those he is wrestling with in the practice room are really helping him. Jake dropping down to 195 gives Nate someone else closer to his weight to wrestle. It's good to be able to move those guys around. Riding well on top and keeping the other guy from scoring is really helping him out a lot.”
DiGuilio wrestled his first tournament at 195, and he came within one point of making the championship match. He lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Wellsboro senior Chad Daugherty in the semifinals.
Daugherty went on to win the 195-pound crown.
DiGuilio, now 17-8 overall, came back in the third-place match and scored 10 points in a 10-6 victory over Gettysburg junior Scott Six.
In all, nine Plum wrestlers own at least 10 wins this season. In addition to Nate Turchick and DiGuilio, Zummo and Martin both are 19-9, and McRandal is 18-7. Green has an 18-8 record, while Stephen Turchick (16-10), DiNinno (15-10) and Fenk (12-11) also have double-digit win totals.
“Everyone is improving and maturing as wrestlers and knowing what to do in certain situations on the mat,” Supak said.
Plum returns to action Saturday at the annual Buckeye Local tournament in Ohio. It also is a one-day event.
Supak said the one-day environment again will help his wrestlers prepare for the Section 3 tournament, set for Feb. 23.
“They all wrestled a lot of matches in one day,” Supak said. “In two-day tournaments, there are two or three matches the first day and maybe one or two on the second day. This gives them a whole bunch of matches in one day, so they know they have to stay focused, mentally tough and prepared to wrestle.”
Plum also will take on West Mifflin in a dual match on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. at Plum High School.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.