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Panthers host first PIAA-sanctioned girls wrestling meet in county history

Jan. 23—SAEGERTOWN — The Saegertown girls wrestling team hosted Seneca Valley for a dual meet on Monday at Steve Scott Gymnasium in what was a historic event as far as local girls wrestling is concerned.

Girls wrestling is in its first season as a PIAA-sanctioned sport and with only a handful of area schools with a team, Monday's match was Saegertown's only home match of the season. It was also the first PIAA-sanctioned all girls wrestling dual in Crawford County history.

"It's quite an honor to actually be the first one for the girls as an official PIAA team," Saegertown head coach Melissa Bartholomew said. "It's nice to see and I can't wait to see the growth and be able to do more next year."

Seneca Valley, a school district with a much larger class size than Saegertown, made the trip from Zelienople. The Saegertown Panthers fought hard in a 30-24 loss.

"I think we did excellent. We bumped some girls around because of weights not matching," Bartholomew said."Some girls wrestled out of their weight, which is a little more difficult, but they did well as a whole"

The match started at 142 pounds with senior Kacie Mook. Mook secured an early takedown and worked into a pin in 1:04 to give Saegertown a 6-0 lead.

Seneca Valley responded when Hannah Hornick pinned Royale Reno-Gaus at 148 pounds. After a Saegertown forfeit at 155, Seneca Valley's Kenley Alexander pinned Zoey Sample in 5:37 to give the Raiders an 18-6 lead.

In the 100-pound match, Jazlee Green had to forfeit due to an injury she sustained early in the bout. The forfeit resulted in a 24-6 Seneca Valley lead — but the Panthers fought back.

Emma Spencer pinned Sara Breeger in 31 seconds at 106 pounds. After a double forfeit at 112, Kylie Stafford pinned Izzy Leighty in 32 seconds.

"A couple of the girls won matches I was worried about, so that was really good. Kylie Stafford was nervous about her match, but she went out there and handled it and did fantastic," Bartholomew said. "I'm worried about my 100-pounder, if she is okay. Hopefully she is okay and her season's not over. That's one I think she ultimately would've won, but her body is more important."

Leah Sample pinned Natalie Tofanelli in 1:58 at 124 pounds. Sample's pin tied the match at 24 and set up a winner-take-all bout at 130 between Saegertown's Elora Dillinger and Seneca Valley's Maddee Fischer.

Dillinger secured a takedown late in the first period for a 2-0 lead. Fischer took the bottom position to open the second. She somersaulted and threw Dillinger onto her back to start the period for a reversal and worked it into a near fall. Dillinger fought for the rest of the period to stay alive, and she did. Fischer pinned Dillinger with 42 seconds left in the third period to give Seneca Valley a 30-24 win.

Despite the setback on Monday, the team has been successful at weekend tournaments and is trending in the right direction as we near the postseason.

"They have improved leaps and bounds. They grow everyday in the room. Wrestling is hard. There is nothing easy about wrestling," Bartholomew said. "I always say you can still be a girly girls and wear makeup and dresses and still come out on the mat and wrestle. It was exciting to see the growth and how well they listen."

Saegertown will be back in action on Feb. 3 at the North Allegheny Tournament.

Alex Topor can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at atopor@meadvilletribune.com.