By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
Selinsgrove wrestling coach Seth Martin had heard enough about the streak of Shikellamy beating them in wrestling for the past 30-plus years.
He was more interested in how his young team was progressing in the early part of the season.
With the dual meet well in hand for Shikellamy by the time the 220-pound bout came around — they led 61-5 — Marin wanted to reward senior Austin Lewis with a shot at district qualifier Dwayne Pepper.
Lewis has not beaten Pepper before Thursday night.
Pepper took an 2-0 lead with a take down in the early seconds of the match after getting out of a single-leg take-down attempt by Lewis.
The early take-downs and lead by Pepper was a repetitive pattern for the Braves all night who scored the first take- downs in 11 of the 12 matches.
Lewis then managed to escape for a point and with 10 seconds remaining in the first period, he took down Pepper and used a variation of a half-nelson to get him on his back and score the pin with .01 seconds left in the period.
It was the highlight of the night for the Seals as they fell 61-14 to their cross-river rivals.
“After we weighed in this morning, coach told me I was going to go up against Dwayne and try and get the win,” Lewis said. “He beat me my sophomore year and junior year. Coming into this one, there was a lot of pressure.”
Selinsgrove (1-2, 0-1 HAC-1) also got a win from heavyweight Andrew Boob who pinned Jeremy Bacon of Shikellamy at 3:04 of the second period.
Shikellamy (2-1, 2-1 HAC-1) won the first nine matches and scored nine pins on the night, including six straight at one point. The Braves were coming off a tough loss to 24th-ranked Mifflin County on Tuesday night.
“We were trying to set the tone by getting the first take-down and set the pace of the match,” Shikellamy coach John Supsic said.
Martin noted that in the last tournament, Lewis wasn’t moving his legs enough and that prompted Lewis to go after a leg take-down attempt early on.
“I knew I had to get out and get points,” Lewis said of his mindset of being down 2-0. “He always seems to catch my by a few points each match.”
Lewis noted that he used a tri-pod stand to get up and get a point and after a fake, he moved in on his Pepper’s legs for the take-down.
“I snaked my hand for the half-nelson and instead of the traditional way, I like to stack them up over his head.” Lewis said. “It’s a little different feel and a little weird on your neck. But I didn’t know what the time was and that made it even better with the .01 left.”
Pepper gave credit to his opponent afterwards.
“As for the match, I just got outclassed and I didn’t capitalize,” he said. “I am proud of my team. I’m hurting a little bit but I’ll be back at it tomorrow.”
According to Martin, Lewis had been close in the past to beating Pepper and Pepper either rolled out or the buzzer sounded at the end of the period to stop Lewis from getting the win.
“For two years in a row, Austin had some close matches with Dwayne but the difference between this year and the years prior was that Austin was the one guy how showed up every time we had a off-season workout for seven months he and I went at it,” Martin said. “I told him, this is it and you don’t know what is going to happen in the post-season, even if you are in the same weight class, you might not match up and you want to beat him. Even thought the match didn’t go our way, it was great to see Austin get the win after all the hard work he has put in over the off-season.”
The match started in a good spot for Shikellamy at 106 according to Supsic with sophomore Nick Gattens getting the first win of the night, a pin at :55-seconds of the first period.
He is one of six underclassman on the Braves team.
“We have a good wrestler in Nick and our lightweights are young and inexperienced, but they went out there and they started strong and when you get four, five, wins in a row, it just keeps the momentum going.” Supsic said. “The next guy doesn’t want to lose, it makes hungry to keep the streak going.”
“I can’t explain the loss by Dwayne,” Supsic added. “Lewis is a competitor and he was fourth at the regional tournament last year.