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Brian Hunt, South River's 154-pound senior wrestler, stared down Bruce Baumgardner, a 290-pound former Olympic and world champion, and accepted his wrestling challenge.

Hunt has accepted Coach Baumgardner's offer to wrestle at nationally ranked Edinboro University on a partial athletic scholarship.

"I really like their emphasis on academics," said Hunt, an All-Metro wrestler who won county and regional tournament titles with a 33-3-1 record.

"Every wrestler is monitored and has to go to class and study hall. I wanted good academics and good wrestling, and this program is exactly what I need right now," he added.

Hunt was a Class 4A-3A state tournament runner-up for the second straight year.

Astate title would have made him South River's first state champion.

"At first, I was intimidated by (Baumgardner's) size -- he's very big -- and his reputation. He was still training for the national freestyle championships when I got there, and I watched him work out," said Hunt.

"He was very honest and up-front with me about (scholarship money) and said I'd have to prove myself. I'll probably have to red-shirt my first year."

Baumgardner's Fighting Scotts finished last season ranked 27th nationally, with an 8-6 record in the Eastern Wrestling League.

Among the highly regarded programs on their schedule are nearby Penn State, Slippery Rock, Bloomsburg, Loch Haven and California universities.

Hunt turned down offers from West Virginia and California universities and full scholarship offers from formerJuCo national champion Chowan (N.C.) and Gloucester (N.J.) junior colleges to attend Edinboro, which is in Edinboro, Pa.

"He'll have arough time of it his first year, but we expect him to be among the top two or three guys in his weight class in the next two years," saidHunt's father, Al, a former wrestling coach.

"We like everything about the program there, and I think he'll enjoy it."

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