The Port Allegany wrestling team’s 39-30 win at Kane — and another Allegheny Mountain League championship — wasn’t secured until the final contest of the evening, but according to Gator coach B.J. Greenman, the groundwork was laid much earlier in the evening by Ethan DeBockler and Taro Tanaka.

The two Port juniors earned key wins in the Feb. 6 match at the “Wolves’ Den,” with DeBockler outlasting Addison Plants, 17-16, in an action-filled bout at 152 pounds, and Tanaka following up with his 11th pin of the season at 160 to give the Gators an early 9-3 lead.

Kane’s two returning state qualifiers, Cameron Whisner (East Forest) and Teddy Race, recorded pins to put the Wolves back on top temporarily, but the score was knotted at 21-21 when the match swung back around to the lightweight classes.

Advantage, Port Allegany. With Smethport brothers Bryent and Braedon Johnson both notching first-period falls and Chase Weimer adding a decision, the Gators took a 36-24 advantage into the final two contests. Harley Morris won via pin to keep the Wolves in the match, but Eli Petruzzi’s 7-4 decision in the finale wrapped up Port’s second consecutive AML title and the program’s 14th overall.

Earlier in the week, the Gators celebrated Senior Night by rolling past Ridgway, 53-12, on Feb. 3. While the team score was never in doubt, the match featured several close contests, none more intense than Petruzzi’s last-second near-fall for a 9-5 decision over the Elkers’ Gary Emerick at 138 pounds.

Leading 5-4 entering the third period, Petruzzi maintained control until just 10 seconds remained, when the Ridgway wrestler managed to break free for a score-tying escape. With the crowd buzzing, Petruzzi instantly counterattacked, taking Emerick down to his back with three seconds left to secure the win.

“Once I was having trouble with him I knew it was going to be tough, but I was just trying to figure out a way to win,” he said. “I was kind of falling, and honestly, I wasn’t even really thinking about it, it just happened. Once I got him to his back, I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I should probably try to pin him,’ but I didn’t have much time left. It didn’t happen, but I was just really happy that I got to pull that out. I lost to him in junior high, and I’ve made a lot of improvements since then. So I was just really thankful I was able to have the opportunity to come back and beat him our senior year.”

Greenman added, “It’s good to be able to win close matches when things aren’t going your way. That’s what’s going to happen in the postseason. When we get to districts and regionals and hopefully to states, he’s going to be in matches like that, where not everything is going your way and you’ve got to find a way to win at the end of the match.”

Montgomery Tanner followed with a dominating performance at 145, getting two near-falls in the first period and another in the second before finishing off the pin at the 3:15 mark. He and Petruzzi were honored before the varsity match, along with fellow seniors Bryent Johnson, Josh Rees and Hunter Tanner and longtime managers Emma Fox and Olivia Freer.

“We have a really good group of seniors that came through. It’s a small class, but with Bryent, Eli, and Monkey, they’ve been really strong, really consistent wrestlers for us all season. Josh would have been in there too, but he got hurt and wasn’t able to wrestle for us this season. We got him back for one match, but that was it,” coach B.J. Greenman said. “Just a good group of guys to have on the mat and in the room. It’s going to be sad to see them go, but it’s nice that we got a good win on their Senior Night.”

Also claiming wins against the Elkers were Isaak Baumgarner and Dalton Distrola (pins), Isaiah Caden (decision), and Chase Weimer, Dayton Sherwood, Braedon Johnson, and Derek Kallenborn (forfeits).

The Gators (13-3, 6-0 AML) close out the regular season against Oswayo Valley on Feb. 11, then start preparing for the District 9 individual championships at Clearfield on Feb. 21-22.

At Port Allegany,

Feb. 3:

Port Allegany 53,

Ridgway 12

220: Justin Young (PA) forfeit; 285: Jacob Kunselman (R) 1:08 Owen Roboski; 106: Chase Weimer (PA) forfeit; 113: no match; 120: Dayton Sherwood (PA) forfeit; 126: Braedon Johnson (PA) forfeit; 132: Isaiah Caden (PA) 4-3 Tyler Merritt; 138: Eli Petruzzi (PA) 9-5 Gary Emerick; 145: Montgomery Tanner (PA) 3:15 Armandt Rosario; 152: Jacob Wickett (R) 8-5 Ethan DeBockler; 160: Hunter Wall (R) 12-5 Taro Tanaka; 170: Isaak Baumgarner (PA) 2:50 Joe Miller; 182: Dalton Distrola (PA) 3:55 Valdemar Kranz; 195: Derek Kallenborn (PA) forfeit.

(PA unsportsmanlike -1.0)

At Kane, Feb. 6:

Port Allegany 39, Kane 30

145: Lane Hillard (K) 13-7 Montgomery Tanner: 152: Ethan DeBockler (PA) 17-16 Addison Plants; 160: Taro Tanaka (PA) 1:45 Nate Asp; 170: Cameron Whisner (K) 3:27 Isaak Baumgarner; 182: Teddy Race (K) 3:27 Dalton Distrola; 195: Derek Kallenborn (PA) forfeit; 220: Justin Young (PA) forfeit; 285: Shawn Nystrom (K) 0:38 Owen Roboski; 106: Chase Weimer (PA) 9-4 Alex Bechakas; 113: Bryent Johnson (PA) 1:31 Isaak Johnson; 120: Dillon Illerbrun (K) 5-1 Dayton Sherwood; 126: Braedon Johnson (PA) 1:12 Brady Danielson; 132: Harley Morris (K) 2:00 Isaiah Caden; 138: Eli Petruzzi (PA) 7-4 Ben Westerburg.