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January 30, 2014

Westmont wrestlers advance out of District 6 duals

JOHNSTOWN — Some wrestling observers felt that Westmont Hilltop was lucky to get the No. 4 seed in the District 6 Dual-Meet Tournament.

The Hilltoppers are now “lucky” enough to be in the semifinals.

Westmont got the matchups it needed in a 44-33 victory over Cambria Heights on Wednesday night and will face top-seeded Huntingdon in the semifinals at Tyrone on Saturday evening.

“We have the type of team where we need 14 efforts every night,” Westmont coach Matt Beaujon said. “(Wednesday night), was one of those nights where we went out and put 14 good efforts out there. I thought everyone went out there and scratched and clawed and just kept the pressure on.”

It helped that the Hilltoppers (4-1) won the coin toss, which kept Cambria Heights coach Mike Eckenrode from getting the two matchups that he really wanted

“When your teams are this even, the coin toss is huge,” Eckenrode said.

Drake Dorian, who is one of the wrestlers Eckenrode hoped to send someone else out against, pinned Eric Kukoski to open the dual and Dan Yost followed with a 4-2 victory over Ray Niebauer.

Austin Gill got Cambria Heights on the board with a fall over Nick Mical at 145, but Kyle Geibig pushed Westmont's lead back to nine points.

The Highlanders (7-3), who beat Central 39-29 earlier in the night for the right to face Westmont, won three consecutive matches to take the lead over the Hilltoppers. Levi Niebauer decisioned Mark Barbera 9-2 at 160. Dalton Waksmunski pinned James Griffin at 170 while Dennis Link scored a fall over Jon Roseman at 182.

Eckenrode had hoped to match Link up against Westmont's Colin Barron. Instead, Barron pinned Will Hoover at 195 to knot the dual at 21.

Beaujon agreed that the coin flip played a big role.

“There's a lot of parity, not only between us, but in the Laurel Highlands conference as well,” he said. “Anytime you can get the coin toss and start deciding matchups, that points you in the right direction.”

Barron also pointed the Hilltoppers in the right direction, reversing Hoover and pinning him in the second period.

“He kept the pressure on him and stayed on his toes there and ended up in a good position,” Beaujon said of Barron.

Hussein Sbeitan – one of six first-year wrestlers in the Westmont lineup on Wednesday night – scored a technical fall over Tony Mezzello at 220 to make it 26-21.

Cambria Heights retook the lead when Aaron Gill pinned Connor Imler at 285, but Westmont's Braden Rosemas picked up a forfeit at 106 to put the Hilltoppers ahead for good.

Logan Blackburn pinned Michael Dautlick at 113 and Trent Blackburn shouldered Mark Zabinski to cement the victory.

With the dual meet no longer in doubt, Westmont forfeited to Joe Davis at 126.

Westmont, which got the No. 4 seed despite being just 3-0 when the seeding points were tallied, will face a much more difficult test on Saturday.

“We're going to go and enjoy this one and we're definitely going to go and try to put our best foot forward and maybe steal a match or two,” Beaujon said. “We've shown signs of improvement, from the beginning of the year, but especially in the past few year weeks.”

In an odd twist, Westmont will host Cambria Heights again tonight to make up for the regular-season meet that was postponed.

“Maybe we'll win the flip (tonight),” Eckenrode said.

Eric Knopsnyder is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @eknopsnyder.

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