---- — By Frank Dimon
For Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- The Lewisburg wrestling team has been a team of pinners this season. Entering Thursday night's key Heartland Athletic Conference II showdown with Hughesville, the Green Dragons had racked up 110 falls and had averaged nearly seven in each of their 13 victories.
Turns out the Spartans have a penchant for pins as well. Hughesville picked up five falls and dominated Lewisburg 47-23 in a match that carried huge HAC-II championship implications and critical seeding significance for next week's District 4 Dual Meet tournament.
Hughesville (12-4 overall, 4-1 HAC-II) got falls from Ethan Barnes (220) and Jacoby Foresman (285) in the first two bouts plus six consecutive wins in the stretch from 120 through 152 to keep its title hopes alive and likely leapfrog the Green Dragons in the duals seedings that will be announced Sunday.
"I go into every match hoping that my team will wrestle well but today at school I wasn't sure if we could handle Lewisburg," said Hughesville coach Steve Budman. "I wasn't sure how their good guys were going to match up with ours. I have gone into matches thinking we were going to win and then lost."
Budman had no need to be worried. Barnes pinned Jamison Bond in 55 seconds and Foresman, a senior with an unspectacular 4-4 mark, converted five takedowns before pinning John Ward in the second period to hand the Spartans an early 12-0 lead.
"Foresman's win was a big one for us, one that we weren't counting on," Budman said.
Dr. Mike Brown, sitting in for head coach Jim Snyder, who was out of town on business, said the Green Dragons were flat in spite of the implications of the match.
"We were flat from the start," said Brown. "(Hughesville) came to wrestle and it steamrolled from there. We got the matchups that we wanted. They won the flip and gave us the matchups we wanted. The match at 285 was a key loss for us."
The Green Dragons (13-4, 3-2) cut the deficit to 12-10 when their dynamic lightweight duo of Brian Friery (106) and Jordan Gessner (113) won. Friery, ranked No. 1 by Off The at, topped Braden Stahlnecker, 11-3, the first time he's been forced to go six minutes in a match. Gessner earned his 12th fall of the season when he pinned Zack Beamer in 1:14.
The Spartans would put the match out of reach by winning the next six bouts. At 120, Trevor Sones picked up a fall in 33 seconds, and then, in the premier bout of the night, Devin Stahlnecker converted a takedown with 30 seconds left to notch a 4-3 decision over Dante Taylor at 126.
"We talked today about whether we wanted that match to happen and in the end decided to make it happen," Budman said. "Taylor is great on his feet and so is Devin."
Taylor, a senior who fell to 16-4, got the first takedown in the opening period and, after allowing a pair of escapes, took a 3-2 lead when he escaped to start the third period.
"That was a good match for Dante, and it was a good match for Stahlnecker," said Brown. "They both wrestled hard."
Ethan Swartz followed Stahlnecker's victory with a fall in his first bout of the season when he pinned Skyler Anderson in 1:01 at 132 and the Green Dragons Zach Fry got a forfeit at 138. Hughesville also won a pair of toss-up bouts at 145 and 152 when Matt Heinreich outlasted Trey Delbaugh, 12-7, and Houston Bryant won a 17-2 (5:35) tech fall over Aaron Vansickle.
Lewisburg did win three of the last four bouts. Max Reed (160) pinned Adam Warburton in 3:16 and Logan Aikey (170) used an escape with 54 seconds left for a 1-0 decision. Nick Bernstein majored Dakota Gee, 13-3, in the final bout of the night at 195.
"We talked about the importance of the match before we came out on the mat," Brown said. "We talked about a league championship and getting a better seed for the duals but we still came out flat."