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Three Bald Eagles, one Red Raiders punch ticket to Hershey

Photos by Tim Weight
By Kenny Varner

ALTOONA – The action was at a fever pitch Saturday on day 2 of the PIAA SouthWest Regional Class AA Wrestling Tournament.

With a trip to Hershey and to the PIAA State Wrestling Championships Bellefonte and Bald Eagle wrestlers were still alive to battle for the post season berth for a state championship nod.

Bald Eagle Area had three wrestlers punch their card to Hershey while Bellefonte sent two.

Bald Eagle’s 107-pounder Tanner Guenot finished as SW Class AA runner up by a slim 1-0 loss to the highly ranked Dominic Deputy.

They were Caden Judice (114), Caleb Close (189) and Guenot (107).

Both Guenot and Close went into the finals while Judice battled in the 3rd place consolation match.

“Overall it was a great day. The last couple of rounds the kids wrestled well,” said Bald Eagle Area’s coach Ron Guenot. “They did what they had to do to move up. They climb the podium. Overall it was a great day. Obviously, we wanted to get one more or so to Hershey. We have three girls going also.”

The Red Raiders were represented by Ezra Swisher (139) and Jackson Long (152).

In team action, Bald Eagle placed fifth going into the evening session and      overall. Bellefonte was in 20th spot in the team final rankings.

In the finals at 107, Tanner Guenot went head-to-head with top PA ranked Dominic Deputy from Chestnut Ridge.

The match had some controversy late. In the first,

both wrestlers went into the match going with a full head of steam. Each were able to counter each others best take down moves as it ended in a 0-0 tie Guenot gave up a second period escape.

Controversy came late in the third as it looked like Guenot had an escape. But after some deliberation by the referee the non call stood, as Guenot fell by the slimiest of margins 1-0.

In Guenot’s first match of the day on Saturday, he wrestled Burrell’s Cam Baker.

The two stalemated in the first period as each wrestler had a counter others move.

Taking the down position in the second, he was able to escape and took a 1-0 advantage into the third.

Guenot took care of Baker in the final stanza, landing four points in the period, holding onto the 5-1 victory.

In Close’s finals match at 189, he found himself in a showdown with fellow Laurel Highlands foe Andrew McMonagle of Huntingdon.

In his rematch with McMonagle, Close and McGonagle had a scoreless first period.

Taking the down position in the second, Close escaped at 1:30 mark and went on to the takedown, leading 3-0 going into the final stanza.

McMonagle tied things with an escape and a takedown. But the night belonged to Close as he notched an escape en route to finishing up a 5-3 contest.

Earlier in his semi-final match against Bentworth’s Vitality Daniels, Close wasted little time dominating Daniels, posting one takedown and 11 total back points, leading 13-0 after one period.

He finished off Daniels early in the second with a final take down to give him the 15-0 tech fall, sending him to the title tilt.

In his fight for third place, Judice picked up a 2-0 lead and was able to hold on from there against Drake McClure of Brentworth.

Judice earned his way to a spot in the third place match at 114 with a nail biting 5-3 victory over Auston Kosanovic of Avonworth.

For Bellefonte, Swisher marked his schedule for Hershey with a win over Remington Fleck, 7-0, guaranteeing at least a fifth place or sixth place finish, good enough to qualify for the trip to Hershey.

After a scoreless first period, Swisher was able to take Fleck down and nearly over on his back, making it a 2-0 advantage. Fleck escaped unscathed with no additional back points, going into the third.

In the third, Swisher quickly went to work. In the down position, Swisher escaped and picked up a second takedown and back points. Swisher sealed the deal with a late pin at 4:13.

In his match for fifth, Swisher met up with Lucas Boyer of Elizabeth Forward.

After a scoreless first period, Swisher was able to control Boyer from the top position for the entire second.

Sitting in the down spot in the third, Swisher turned the momentum, taking the 2-0 advantage.

But that would only be temporary as Boyer tied it, forcing an overtime period.

A quick takedown in the period gave Swisher the 4-2 sudden victory win.

Teammate Jackson Long fell in the second round of 152-pound consolations to Rudy Brown of Burgettstown, in a hard fought 3-0 contest.

Long wrestled for seventh place, going up against Alan Danner of Hampton.

The Bellefonte grappler finished the night on a high note, picking up a 3-0 victory against Alan Danner of Hampton to secure seventh.

After two scoreless periods.

Long took the down position and with time running down picked up an escape and a take down to pick up the win.

Next up for these selected matmen, a chance to follow their dream and to compete to for a PIAA state title.

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