---- — By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
SHAMOKIN -- Mike Martz literally had envisioned both sides of the coin prior to Line Mountain taking to the mats Tuesday against Shamokin Area in the Eagles first regular-season matchup in 25 years at the Shamokin Elementary Annex and in each case the visitors came out on top. However, little did he expect the final outcome to come down to criteria when the match ended in a 36-36 deadlock.
In a meet that featured five forfeits, including a double at 120, the Eagles claimed their ninth win of the season based on criteria 4, most wins in the match including forfeits (7-6), to secure not only a winning season (9-8) but in the process a berth in the upcoming District 4 Class A Team Duals.
"One of our goals as a team heading into the season was qualifying for the district duals," Martz said. "Given the hardships experienced throughout the year the wrestlers left on the roster are truly team players.
"The way I had the match figured out if we won the toss our chances of being victorious were better than 90 percent but if we lost the flip it would be around 40 and we'd be in a dogfight. As it turned out we had to battle Shamokin right to the end."
Sprinked between the series of forfeits were several big bouts for both teams but probably none bigger than at 126 where, for the second match in a row, Blake Carl (7-14) came up with an upset win that helped propel the Eagles toward their final victory.
Carl opened the scoring for Line Mountain with a hard-fought but convincing 6-1 decision at 126 over Shamokin's Bill Leon. He used a single-leg takedown for a 2-0 first-period lead and then added a second takedown prior to the buzzer to take a 4-1 advantage into the final stanza when he used a reversal to secure the win.
"I've been working really hard at practice and just trying to score points," Carl said. "It's good to help the team win and winning late in the year also provides me with momentum heading into the postseason because this is the time to be peaking."
After two Indians' forfeit wins provided the home team with a 12-3 edge, the Eagles began their first comeback when Seth Lansberry (25-1) and a seventh-place finisher in the state meet last year, took just 14 seconds to pin Noah Young to trim the deficit to 12-9. That was followed by Britton Heim's 3-0 win at 152 to forge a 12-12 tie. Brendan Renn (160) and Erik Smeltz (170) collected back-to-back falls to provide Line Mountain with its biggest advantage, 24-12.
Anthony Anonia (182) snapped the string of Eagles' wins when he flattened Riley Shaffer in 2:33 only to have Line Mountain's Rayce Boyer respond with a 44-second pin at 195 to push the lead back to 12 points, 30-18.
The Indians regained the lead on the strength of their heavyweights as Zack Biddiscombe pinned Nick Strohecker at 220 in 1:19 and Jordan Glosek followed with a fall in 1:57 over Charles Hoffman at 285. Both teams traded forfeits in the bout's final two bouts. But Cameron Newman's forfeit win at 120 was the deciding one, a district-clinching triumph for the Eagles.
"This was the second straight match that (Blake) Carl came up big for us as he beat Brett Shephard of Southern to ice the win for us (Saturday) and tonight he had to be the underdog again and won another big match for us," Martz said. "We had a fair amount of wrestlers quit and the wrestlers (who are) left answered the call throughout the year.
"I am happy for this group, especially the seniors, because they get to compete in the team duals and at the same time it helps us get in a few bouts prior to the individual portion of the postseason."