By Frank Dimon
For the Daily Item
On a corner of mat 1 at the Cats Den in the Mifflinburg Intermediate School, with Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" blaring through the sound system before the finals of the South Sectional wrestling tournament Saturday evening, Line Mountain's Seth Lansberry broke out a few dance moves to the iconic hit from the 80s.
The impromptu dance session had most of Lansberry's teammates, and even a few wrestlers from opposing teams, gathered 'round, laughing at the senior's antics. It was a lighthearted moment before the more serious business of qualifying for the District 4, which followed.
It's unlikely that Lansberry will ever be remembered for his dancing technique on the Resilite.
Lansberry will be remembered for his wrestling skills. He etched his name in the Line Mountain record book shortly after his dance session when he pinned Mount Carmel's Blake Panko in the second period of the 138-pound final. The victory, the 130th of his career, gave him his fourth South Sectional championship and placed his name alongside Todd Laudenslager, Mike Shingara and Kellon Balum, the Eagles' other four-timers.
Lansberry won South crowns at 112 pounds as a freshman, at 125 as a sophomore and at 132 last year. It's that kind of steady performance that Eagles coach Mike Martz has come to expect.
"Seth has improved every year," Martz said. "He was good coming into the program and he worked and he was steady. The best way to describe his wrestling career is that he was a 'Steady Eddie.' He dedicated himself to the program and the sport."
Lansberry said the key to his improvement has been the work he's done in the offseason.
"I work a lot in the offseason, going to camps and stuff like that," he said. "I try to workout every day and get a little bit better. As a wrestler, you put the hard work in the bank and then exchange it for gold at the state tournament, hopefully."
Lansberry was 23-14 as a freshman, just missing a trip to the regional tournament when he lost a 5-0 decision to Milton's Eric Wolfe in the District 4 consolation finals. He bettered his performance as a sophomore, winning the rugged Escape the Rock tournament during the regular season before losing to Towanda's Cody Wheeler in the finals of the district and regional tournaments. Lansberry went 1-2 in his first visit to the state tournament and finished his season with a 35-11 record.
Last year, as a junior, Lansberry earned his first state medal, finishing seventh at 132. But his 41-6 record was marred by several tough losses during the post-season, including two narrow ones to Benton's Colt Cotten. The latter prevailed 4-2 in sudden victory in the district final and again, 1-0, in the regional final.
"They were tough losses," Martz said. "Cotten is a good wrestler; he was just a little better in those matches."
Two tough losses in Hershey followed. After winning his opening match, 7-0, over Josh Kwasny of Charleroi, Lansberry was beaten by eventual runner-up Dylan D'Urso of Reynolds, 5-2. He bounced back with a 9-2 decision over Burrell's Steve Edwards but then dropped a 1-0 bout to Jake Keller of Curwensville when a victory would have given him another shot at Cotten.
"It was an eye-opening experience for me because I knew that I was good enough to hang with the best kids in the state," Lansberry said. "Overall, it was a good experience for me."
Lansberry finished the state tournament on a positive note, beating Shane Gentry of SouthSide Beaver, 6-2, for his seventh-place finish.
Martz said Lansberry has used the disappointment of last season as motivation for his final year.
"I think he has used that as motivation," Martz said. "He's always been a hard worker and done whatever he can to improve. This season he tried to open up a little more, maybe not have those close matches."
Lansberry spent this season at 145, losing only to Pen Argyl's Michael Racciato, 8-2, in the finals of the King of the Mountain tournament, and Ian Brown of Hanover, 2-1, in the finals of the New Oxford tournament. Along the way he beat state-ranked wrestlers like Blake Bowman of Tri-Valley and Ty Haines of Redbank Valley.
"Anytime you beat state-level wrestlers like that, it's good for your confidence," Lansberry said.
Even with his success at 145, Martz and Lansberry finally agreed that 138 would be the best weight for him in the postseason.
"There was a little bit of a question what weight he would go at," Martz said. "We talked at the end of the season last year and the plan was to get as big as he possibly could. Last year we thought he was kind of a small 132-pounder. His brother, Nick, wrestled at 152 and grew a lot his last two years. So there was a question whether (Seth) would go (138) or (145). We chose 138 because we think that's the better weight class for him."
Lansberry, who will take his talents to Lycoming College, mainly because the Division III school has a marine biology major, is comfortable to be down at 138.
"I definitely wasn't the biggest 145-pounder out there," he said. "My coaches (told me) that I have a chance of winning (a state championship) at 145 but a better chance of winning at 138. They said it was my decision. (They said) 'Do what you want.' "
The drop also meant that Lansberry and Zain Retherford, who won a state title at 103 for Line Mountain as a freshman and finished third at 112 the following year before his acrimonious transfer to Benton, are in the same weight class. Thanks to an advantage in seeding points, Lansberry is the top seed in the 138-pound bracket.
The potential for Lansberry to meet his former teammate, perhaps three times along the post-season tournament trail, is a bigger deal for the district's avid wrestling fans than for coach or wrestler.
Martz chose not talk about a Lansberry-Retherford showdown. Lansberry said, "We were really good friends in elementary school but something changed, I don't know. I am looking forward to the match. He's good, definitely. He's had two years to change his stuff but a match with him will be like practice again."
Until then, Lansberry is hoping he can choreograph the sweetest dance of all in Hershey.