By Harold Raker and Frank Dimon
The Daily Item
MILTON -- Much of the season has been a struggle for Warrior Run junior Tyler Hornberger. But the Defenders' 138-pounder had the crowd in the Milton High School gym on its feet Saturday afternoon.
Hornberger took the mat versus Ryan Force in the final bout of Warrior Run's District 4 Class AA Duals Tournament consolation semifinal with his team trailing 28-25. The winning team moved to the final with a shot at a trip to the state tournament.
Force was ready to ice the deal with an 8-0 lead through two periods. But Hornberger, 8-15 on the season, with two losses earlier in the day, came roaring back in the third. He scored eight points to tie it in regulation, capped by a buzzer-beating two-point nearfall with a cradle.
He escaped in the second overtime period, but his fortunes ran out when Force reversed him in the third extra period for a 10-9 decision and a 31-25 Wyalusing victory.
The fifth-seeded Defenders opened the tournament with a 41-21 victory over fellow Heartland Athletic Conference Division II team and No. 4 seed Lewisburg, and then fell to top-seeded and eventual champ Towanda 36-25.
The Valley's other entries also fell short of a trip to Hershey. Lewisburg made it to the consolation semifinals, but fell to another HAC-II team, No. 6 Hughesville. No. 15 Mifflinburg dropped a pair, to eventual runner-up No. 7 Montoursville and Wyalusing. No. 9 Line Mountain dropped a pair to Towanda and Lewisburg.
Hornberger was under the pressure to not only win, but to get a fall because, had he tied the score, Wyalusing would have won on criteria (most wins, 8-6).
"It was a strong effort. He didn't take any periods off; he went three periods (plus overtime) and came out on the short end," Warrior Run coach Wayne Smythe said. "He was trying to get the pin as well and that is not easy."
Smythe said, despite falling behind the Black Knights 36-0, he thought his team was still in it and was good enough to win. Warrior Run (13-6) rallied behind falls from Jared Miller (106), Bradly Styer (113) and Zack LeBarron (126).
Elias George (160), Styer (113) and Zack LeBarron (126) had pins for the Defenders versus the Rams.
Lewisburg (16-6) followed its loss to Warrior Run with a 51-25 thumping of Line Mountain in the first round of consolations. The Green Dragons streaked to a decisive 39-4 lead eight bouts into the meet, getting falls from Trey Delbaugh (138), Max Reed (160), Logan Aikey (170), and John Ward (220).
Brian Friery (106) and Jordan Gessner (120) added falls for Lewisburg. The Eagles (11-8), who were pounded by No. 1 seed and eventual champion Towanda in the morning quarters, picked up pins from Garrett Kieffer (285), Cameron Newman (113) and Brian Earlston (126).
"We had some disappointments for us and a few bright spots," Line Mountain coach Mike Martz said. "Coming in to this tournament we thought we could compete with any team here if we wrestled to our capability. We were disappointed as a team because we thought could compete better as a team. We didn't win the close ones."
The Green Dragons, thumped by Hughesville, 47-23, in their regular-season dual two weeks ago, made it closer in a rematch in the late afternoon consolation round but fell, 36-24.
Lewisburg owned a 21-19 edge after Friery pinned Braden Stahlnecker in the ninth bout of the dual. But the Spartans, who were edged by Wyalusing in a battle for third place that was decided by Criteria H (most first points scored), used Trevor Sones' 10-8 decision over Jordan Gessner and bonus point wins from Nate Hampton and Zach Fry to seal the victory.
"We knew that it was going to be a tough day in this gym,'' said Lewisburg coach Jim Snyder. "I liked the way we battled. The difference was we lost the close matches, almost all of them. But I really liked the way we came after Hughesville."
Like Line Mountain, Mifflinburg endured a pair of tough losses. The Wildcats (8-8) were belted by Montoursville (which lost to Towanda in the final, 55-21) in the quarterfinals and Wyalusing, 52-19, in the first round of consolation.
Cole Walter (152) had a pair of falls for Mifflinburg.
"I thought we fought and I saw some good things," Mifflinburg coach Dave Murray said. "We have a good portion of the guys ready for the postseason. I saw some highlights in there."