By Frank Dimon
For The Daily Item
Perhaps the sampling base is too small to get a definitive feel for his wrestling team, but after a pair of competitions in the early portion of this season Shikellamy coach John Supsic likes what he has seen so far.
In the Braves’ Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I opener at Milton on Thursday night, the third-year coach had plenty to smile about. The Braves dominated in the neutral position with a 20-7 advantage in takedowns, racked up five falls, and gutted out a pair of wins in close decisions as they rolled over Milton, 48-19.
“I like this team because they are a bunch of young kids who want to learn,” Supsic said. “They are working hard and that’s what I like.
“They are energetic and want to learn. We are building for the future and tonight I was happy to come out on top.”
But with the dual meet opener for both squads starting at 152 pounds, it took the Braves (1-0) half the match to assert its dominance. Milton, with most of its tested veterans in the heavier weights, built a 19-15 lead after freshman Nevin Aeppli’s fall at 285 pounds swung the match back to the lightweights.
When Milton forfeited at 106 to hand the lead back to the Braves, the rest of Supsic’s lightweights stepped on the gas and never let up.
Jake Matthews dominated Cameron Aunkst in a battle of freshmen at 113. Matthews racked up eight takedowns before pinning Aunkst with seven seconds left in the second period.
Senior Tyler Hepler, at 120, outlasted Milton’s outstanding freshman Logan Bennett, 4-2, mostly on the strength of a first period takedown to push the Shik lead to 30-19.
John Supsic — the coach’s son — earned his first varsity win with a 7-1 decision at 126 and Tobi Shirk turned Dillian Sweeley for a first period fall at 132. Jared Brown added a 7-2 win at 138 and veteran Tristan Paul wrapped up the win with a fall at 145.
In that critical stretch, the Braves owned a 17-1 advantage in takedowns.
“We work a lot on our feet as we have traditionally,” Supsic said. “We struggled getting off the bottom tonight and we will go back in the room and work on that. We want to work on pushing the pace.
And some of our guys gassed tonight which I didn’t like.”
Milton built its early lead when Zack Bennett — with a 10-1 major decision in the first bout of the night — and Ryan Preisch — with the fastest fall of the night (28 seconds) — wrapped bonus point wins around a fall from Shik’s Josh Derr at 160.
But Joe Snyder improved to 4-1 on the season and sucked away a portion of the Milton momentum when he converted a takedown in the last five seconds for a 4-3 win over the Black Panthers Gage Heller to slice the early Milton lead to 10-9.
“It was a big win for Joe,” Supsic said. “He started for us last year and didn’t do as well as we would have liked. He gutted it out and it was a nice swing in momentum for us.”
Dwayne Pepper also split up a pair of Milton wins when he got a 59 second fall at 220.
Milton got its biggest victory of the night when the freshman Aeppli bumped to 285 and earned a first period fall to give the Black Panthers a four-point margin.
But Milton’s inexperience took at toll in the end.
“We had just three seniors out there tonight, so we know it is a process we have to go through,” Milton coach Mike Snyder said. “For a lot of these kids it was their first varsity dual meet. I saw some good things and we will build from here. They are only going to get better.”