Kittanning wrestlers earn clutch victory
With a spot in the section playoffs potentially on the line, Kittanning and Valley produced a playoff-like match.
Jacob Shaner and Brendon Malia won with pins in the last two contested bouts, and Kittanning needed every point to hold on for a Section 3B-AA win over Valley, 40-39, on Wednesday in Kittanning.
“It's always a big one against Valley. Those guys wrestle so hard, and every year it seems like it's a fight right to the end,” Kittanning coach Brandon Newill said. “We were lucky to get a win. We had some guys out, and it didn't look good for us going in, but our guys fought so hard to win it.”
Shaner stepped on the mat for the 106-pound bout with his team trailing 33-28 and knowing that the Wildcats (1-1, 1-1) were going to concede six points by forfeiting the bout at 120. He came through with a third-period pin of Sequawon Harris at the 5:22 mark to put Kittanning ahead 34-33.
Malia then needed to follow suit in his match at 113 against Calvin Louttit, and he did so in similar fashion. Malia chose the down position to start the third period, but he quickly scored a reversal and got the winning fall at the 4:37 mark.
“To need two pins, back-to-back, with little guys like that is tough,” Newill said. “For them to come up with that is huge. It's great to get a thrilling victory like that in front of your home crowd.”
Valley (1-1, 1-1) took a 27-16 lead after the middle weight classes on three straight pins by Noah Kankoski (160), Dylan Clarke (170) and Terrell Fields (182).
The Vikings needed a bigger advantage as they forfeited bouts to Kittanning's Jacob Robb and Dave Grafton at 195 and 285, which allowed the Wildcats back in.
Kittanning got its early points on a 9-1 major decision by Nick Croyle (138), an injury default win for Jason Nolf (145) and a pin by Nate Vukovich (152), and the Vikings knew that would make a comeback difficult.
“You can't give up bonus points in matches like this,” Valley coach Steve Ansani said. “We told those (lightweight) kids to try and hang on, but it wasn't them, it was earlier matches, too. We shouldn't have been on our backs, but we're going to go back to the drawing board and take care of that.”
Valley also got wins by fall from Partick DeWitt (132) and Marcus Davenport (220). Jihad Ratliff won a 9-5 decision at 126 for Valley, and Zaya Dixon got the forfeit win at 120.
The win gives Kittanning an important head-to-head edge in the section standings as the teams are now tied for second place with two section matches remaining.