By Todd Hummel
For The Daily Item
Lewisburg coach Jim Snyder had modest expectations for Tuesday’s night’s opening match with Central Columbia, the favorite in Division II of the Heartland Athletic Conference.
Last year, the Green Dragons fell by 57 to the Blue Jays in the final dual meet of the season, and with the bulk of the Central Columbia team back and Lewisburg sending out a team with just four seniors in its starting lineup, things looked bleak for Lewisburg.
“I just wanted to do better (in this match),” Snyder said.
The Blue Jays won seven of the first eight matches of the evening and rolled to a 52-11 victory over the Green Dragons at Donald H. Eichhorn Middle School, but Snyder was still pleased after the dual meet.
“I’m probably the happiest a coach can be after a 52-11 beating,” Snyder said. “We saw a lot of good things. I saw some things I really liked even in losses.”
Central Columbia (1-0 overall and HAC-II) got bonus points in four of those seven wins, beginning with a Chris Rich pin at 132 pounds to open the match. Matt Hackenburg picked up a fall at 195 pounds for the Blue Jays and clinched the match as they led 31-4 at that point.
Jesse Shannon (138) also had a fall in that run for Central Columbia, while Austin Miknich’s major decision at 152 accounted for the Blue Jays’ other bonus points.
“We are a solid team and we’ll always put forth a game effort,” Central Columbia coach Todd Cummings said. “We wrestled well, but we still have a ways to go.”
Two of the Green Dragons’ (0-1 overall and HAC-II) bright spots came while they were falling behind. The first came at 145 where sophomore Logan Aikey gave senior Aaron Johnson all he could handle. Johnson, a senior, finished second in the Top Hat Tournament and was 30-12 last season.
Aikey trailed just 3-1, but got caught on his back to start the third period to give Johnson a 6-1 lead. Aikey stayed aggressive, not allowing any more points. Johnson won 6-2, but didn’t get any bonus points.
Sophomore 160-pounder Max Reed had the only early win for the Green Dragons, scoring a 15-4 major decision. Reed had four takedowns and two instances of back points in his first match of the season.
The most anticipated match of the night came at 220 pounds where two state qualifiers clashed. Lewisburg’s Brandon Smith, who finished fifth in the PIAA Tournament, and Central Columbia’s Eric McCracken matched up. Smith turned a 2-all match with a takedown late in the second period. McCracken tried twice to fight it off, but Smith dragged him inbounds twice before getting the two points.
Smith then controlled the third period with an escape, a stalling point and a reversal for an 8-2 win.
The other Lewisburg win was impressive as well. Freshman 106-pounder Brian Friery made his debut with an impressive 10-1 major decision.
“Max showed how athletic he is (on the wrestling mat) and Brandon was Brandon,” Snyder said. “Friery is somebody you are going to be hearing about for a long time.”
Alex Shiber (285) and Steve Shannon (120) also had pins for the Blue Jays.