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."