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Redbank Valley gets first district team title

| Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 1:12 a.m.

Though somewhat the beneficiaries of a technicality, members of Redbank Valley's wrestling team now have one accomplishment that sets them apart from their great predecessors.

Redbank Valley secured its first District 9 Class AA team tournament title Saturday at DuBois Area High School with a 33-29 victory over Brookville, the defending champion. The top-seeded Bulldogs reached the finals for just the second time in tournament history — which dates back to 1999 — earlier in the day by beating No. 4 Port Allegany, 34-28, in the semifinals.

“It's really relieving to have that weekend over,” coach Mike Kundick said. “Everything else is icing on the cake. … Ever since we beat Brookville the first time (36-33 on Dec. 20), we knew it could come down to that again, and you wondered what they're going to do this time.”

Prior to the establishment of the dual-style tournament, Redbank Valley won team titles in 1976, 1977 and 1981, as it finished with the best cumulative score in the individual-style competition. And in 2008, the Bulldogs again had the best team score at the district's individual tournament.

That 2008 team — sometimes used as a measuring stick for the current squad — stumbled in the team tournament, where, as the top seed, it lost to Port Allegany, 36-32, in the semifinals.

No such mistake emerged Saturday.

“This team, from top to bottom, is right up there with the best,” Kundick said.

Tanner Altobelli limited his 126-pound bout against Port Allegany's Hunter Freer to a 5-0 decision that clinched a victory for Redbank Valley, which forfeited the final bout,

Willie Gruver delivered a key victory one bout earlier, as his pinfall win with five seconds left in the second period of the 120-pound match created a sizeable cushion for the Bulldogs.

Cole Shirey, Aaron Hook, Luke Hinderliter and Cal Haines joined Gruver as Bulldogs who won two bouts during the day. Shirey (160 pounds) had a technical fall in the semifinals and a decision in the championship; Hook (18 2195), a pin and a decision; Hinderliter (19 5182), an overtime decision and a pin; and Haines (220), a decision and a win by disqualification after his opponent, Nathan Bonfardine, attempted to bite him — Brookville lost two team points for the incident, and Bonfardine was ejected.

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BWest_Trib.

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