By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
Reynolds High wrestling team never backs down from a challenge, that’s why opening the season against another state powerhouse was never a question.
“When we decided to wrestle Bald Eagle Area in the opening match, their coach and I both said no matter what happens, there would be no loser,” said Raiders mentor Brian Hills. “We didn’t know what to expect, but I am really pleased with the way our kids wrestled.”
“Pleased” was almost an understatement since the Raiders rolled to a resounding 39-23 victory over the perennial state Class AAA power. Coming in, both teams were ranked in the top 25 in the country in various polls.
Reynolds should be the top-ranked team in Pennsylvania Class AA, coming off a “double dip” last season when the Raiders won both the PIAA state dual meet and individual tournament championships.
And the victory over BEA was the 47th straight regular-season dual meet win for Reynolds, narrowing in on the school record of 60.
The match opened at 130 and the Raiders jumped on top 9-0 after a first-period pin by junior Corey Brown and a 10-5 decision by senior Steve Nestor, who notched 5 takedowns. Shawn Switzer cut the margin with a 7-2 decision over Rex Cooper and Eagles star Grant Paswell, a 3rd-place state finisher, rolled past a gutsy, but over-matched Tony D’Urso by technical fall to cut the match lead to 9-8.
BEA moved Paswell up to 145 from 140, with hopes of meeting two-time state runner-up Aaron Nestor. However, Hills made a move that he felt was best for the team and shifted Nestor to 152. “We weren’t sure, but I thought that was the right move to make. I thought this match might be so close it could come down to criteria.”
Nestor trailed Caleb Hoffman, 6-4, heading into the final period, but came through was a pin off a front-headlock in 4:59.
The two teams then swapped pins at 160 at 171. Eagles state runner-up Quentin Wright decked Ryan Dawes in 57 seconds, but 3-time state place-winner Lawrence Beckman picked up a fall off a stack in 4:15 to neutralize the scoring.
BEA then picked up a decision — Brian Kochik over Mike Miller, 6-2 — and a fall — state qualifier Kevin Struble over Will Ringer in 1:59 — to grab the team lead, 23-21, and bring a group of traveling Eagles fans to life.
However, two newcomers then came through for the Raiders. Junior Corey Shields worked a 2-1 win at heavyweight, while freshman Rodney Harnett came through at 103 with a 4-0 win.
“They both did the job,” said a happy Hills. “Bald Eagle’s regular heavyweight was out of the lineup, but Corey beat their backup 215-pounder. And we had a couple of kids (Kaine Kulka and Jon Uhrin) out with injuries also.”
The Raiders swept the final three weights as state runner-up Cody Kelly won a 5-2 decision over a tough Cory Gates; state qualifier Sam Fuchs rolled over senior Zane Gardner, 7-1; and senior transfer Robbie Miller made his first start in a Raider uniform a successful one with a fall in 2:11.
“When you go into that first match, you really don’t know about some of the kids,” said Hills. “But I was impressed. Even our jayvees, some of the inexperienced kids showed that the practice room has been playing off. I saw some moves they picked up already.
“We have great respected for Bald Eagle Area. We’re looking forward to going their next year.”
REYNOLDS 39, BALD EAGLE AREA 23
130 - Corey Brown (R) pinned John Decker, 1:51; 135 - Steve Nestor (R) dec. Joseph Shirk, 10-5; 140 - Shawn Switzer (BEA) dec. Rex Cooper, 7-2; 145 - Grant Paswell (BEA) tech fall over Tony D’Urso, 17-1, 4:21; 152 - Aaron Nestor (R) pinned Caleb Hoffman, 4:59; 160 - Quentin Wright (BEA) pinned Ryan Dawes, :57; 171 - Lawrence Beckman (R) pinned Ryan McNamara, 4:15; 189 - Brian Kochik (BEA) dec. Mike Miller, 6-2; 215 - Kevin Struble (BEA) pinned Will Ringer, 1:59; 275 - Corey Shields (R) dec. Lucas Showers, 2-1; 103 - Rodney Harnett (R) dec. Trevor Foresman, 4-0; 112 - Cody Kelly (R) dec. Cory Gates, 5-2; 119 - Sam Fuchs (R) dec. Zane Gardner, 7-1; 125 - Robbie Miller (R) pinned Samuel Peters, 2:11. JV: Reynolds, 19-6.
By Lynn Saternow