Penn State Mont Alto Wins First ever home match
MONT ALTO — The last time Penn State Mont Alto had a wrestling team, the college did not even have a gymnasium.
How things have changed.
On Wednesday, PSU-Mont Alto hosted its first ever wrestling match as Penn State-Greater Allegheny visited campus for a PSUAC dual.
Tyler Warner, a 2012 Waynesboro Area High School graduate and former high school wrestler, won the first ever match at the college, making him the answer to a trivia question for years to come.
“It was great,” Warner said after Mont Alto defeated Allegheny 28-25. “It was the first home match for Mont Alto since the ‘70s. I come in here, I’m going to be the second match. I have a chance to be the first kid to win from Mont Alto on the home mat. Not that I wanted the wreslter before me to lose, but it was really neat to be the first to win at home.”
Warner, known for his defensive style of wrestling that opens up opportunities to score points in bunches, pinned Matt Lago in 6:05 of the 149-pound match. Warner, who wrestled at 141 in the Virginia Beach Invitational over the weekend, moved up to 149 for Wednesday’s match.
He didn’t miss a beat, using his hips nicely to set up his first takedown and then parlaying it into three back points for a 5-0 lead after the first period.
“That’s what I do. I roll kids. I throw kids. That’s what I’m good at,” Warner said.
Lago appeared at first to have a distinct advantage in strength, but Warner didn’t allow Lago to get close enough to find out for sure who would win the power wrestling game. For Warner, technique was the deciding factor. After Lago got a hand in and worked for a single leg takedown, Warner used Lago’s momentum against him and rolled over on Lago for a takedown.
Lago responded with a cradle in the second period for three points. However, Warner fought off a pin and rallied for a takedown followed by five nearfall points and a 12-3 lead. Warner sealed the match with a pin 1:05 into the third period.
“We talked about getting bonus points this week,” said Mont Alto head coach Bruce Kocsis. “I needed bonus points from Tyler and from Alec (Warner). Kenny (Burrs) ended up pulling out a major. It was exactly what we were talking about.”
Tyler Warner’s win was preceded by Erik Rayman’s major decision over Mont Alto’s Danny May at 141 and gave the home team an 18-4 lead, which, in college wrestling is hardly a commanding lead.
Bonus points were certainly of the essence for both teams, especially after each team forfeited two matches. There was a no contest at 285. That made the six contested matches crucial in terms of points.
Alec Warner pinned Patrick Corcoran in 1:05 and Burrs sealed the victory with a 12-4 major decision at 184. Burrs scored on a late takedown to increase the lead to eight points. His win made it 28-13 and was followed by consecutive forfeits at 197 and 235 that gave Allegheny 12 points.
Trailing 18-4, Allegheny won at 157 and 165 to cut the deficit to 18-13. Alec Warner put some space between the teams with his first-period pin. Burrs then closed the door on Allegheny.
Worth the wait
In a case of delay but not denial, the Lions hit the mat nine months late. The original first home match of Feb. 2 never materialized after a season of growing pains last winter when the team lacked numbers and was unable to compete in dual meets.
The former site for wrestling — the old East Junior High School in Waynesboro — is a memory. Only the cupola remains on the grounds of Waynesboro Area Middle School. On a brisk early November night, the nearly 40 years since the college has fielded a wrestling program was erased in one night.
The college campus is now abuzz with dorm rooms, a multi-purpose gymnasium, four-year degree programs and inclusion in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association that gives Mont Alto the opportunity to compete on a national level in sports. Athletes can now compete at Mont Alto all four years, or transfer to a four-year college with the opportunity to play a sport elsewhere.
“We did a feasibility study to see what next sport we would be adding,” said PSU-Mont Alto athletic director Marty Ogle. “We found there are more high school wrestlers in Pennsylvania per population than any other state in the country. We’re excited about it.”
The sport was on the fast track last year. Following the feasibility study, the proposal was approved in October 2011. Not long after, Bruce Kocsis was hired as the head coach.
“It felt great,” Kocsis said of last night’s home match. “I’m glad to have a home match finally for the first time. It’s nice to have some wrestlers this year. That’s what we really missed last year.
“Last year, technically, we didn’t have any season at the beginning. We didn’t have the wrestlers who wrestled before in high school. We were starting from scratch. This year we had a year of recruiting. We brought in 15 freshmen this year and we have a solid squad.”
Mont Alto will wrestle Gloucester Community College (N.J.) tonight at Gettysburg High School. The Lions will compete in the Washington and Jefferson Tournament on Saturday beginning at 12 p.m. The next home match is Jan. 23 against Penn State Fayette.