---- — By Brian Holtzapple
For The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- For the eight seniors on the Lewisburg High boys tennis team, the past four years have been one swell ride.
During that time, the Green Dragons have captured the last three Heartland Athletic Conference Division II titles and two of the last three District 4 Class AA championships.
And the journey isn't over for Lewisburg, which celebrated senior day during a divisional match against Loyalsock on Wednesday.
Lewisburg had a lot more to celebrate after the match, as the Green Dragons took a 5-0 victory over the Lancers to secure their fourth straight conference title.
"It was a good win. We always know Loyalsock is going to be competitive," said Lewisburg coach Matt Barr, whose team has gone 54-2 in the last four years. "I was real proud of these guys. They did a great job.
"Singles did real well and they just came out and played their game. No. 1 doubles had a great match, a three-setter. It was a little scary at first, but they pulled through," added Barr.
Russell Nash got the ball rolling for Lewisburg (15-1, 12-1 HAC-II) with his 6-2, 6-3 victory over Tommy Criswell at No. 3 singles.
"It was a tough match and (Criswell) is a good opponent, but I came out on top," said Nash. "It's a great feeling (to win the title). We started this (streak) when we were freshmen and the team wasn't known for being good. Now we've made a tradition here at Lewisburg and it's pretty awesome."
At No. 2 singles Kerry Shutt beat Mark Odorizzi, 6-0, 6-2; and in the No. 1 match Ben Koch won 6-1, 6-2 over Caleb Vuocolo to clinch the conference title for the Green Dragons.
Koch bounced back from a tough 6-4, 6-2 loss to Towanda's David Rodenhizen in the District 4 team quarterfinals on Tuesday. However, the Green Dragons won the match 4-1 to advance.
"I was very proud of the way I played. It was tough (on Tuesday) and it was a tough loss," said Koch. I was on my game (Wednesday) and I was very proud of that."
Although he's only been on the team the past two years, Koch feels honored to be a part of the run of success currently enjoyed by Lewisburg.
"Being here for two years has been awesome. They welcomed me in and I appreciate that to the fullest," said Koch. "It's great being a part of this team. The seniors are a big group, and a fun group, and we get along really well."
That's why winning the title for the fourth straight time means so much to Shutt.
"We're all friends. We started at the bottom and now we're (at the top)," said Shutt. "It's pretty special as a senior to win (the division title) all four years. It's just one of those things that you can look back on and be proud of."
Lewisburg put the finishing touches on its victory over Loyalsock (12-3, 12-2) with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 win at No. 1 doubles from Jordan Massoud and Mike McCormack.
And at No. 2 doubles, Wes Sigl and Bryan Speake posted a 6-1, 6-3 victory for the Green Dragons.
"We knew these guys were good coming in. This has been a real special group of guys," said Barr. "They have been fun to coach, they come to work every day and they really enjoy playing tennis. That's what we've always tried to instill.
"These guys have put it in their heads a while back that if they put in the work they will be near the top, and here they've proven they deserve to be at the top."