By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
A run of five consecutive pins got Lewisburg back in the running for a spot in the championship final of Saturday’s Line Mountain Duals. But, with one bout left (at 145 pounds), the Green Dragons’ fate landed in the hands of sophomore Logan Aikey.
Canton had scored three consecutive pins to take back the lead and go into that final bout with a 36-33 lead. Aikey, who already had a fall on the day, but also lost by a technical fall, said there was there was some pressure on him to get the bonus points and get the win for the team.
“Coach (Jim Snyder) came back and told me, ‘We need you to do better than three (team points),’ and I got really pumped up and went out there and wrestled hard and it came out well,” Aikey said.
Indeed it did. Aikey pinned fellow sophomore Travis Butcher in 1 minute, 50 seconds to give Lewisburg its third win of the day in as many meets, setting up a championship match with Mount Union, ranked No. 14 in the state in Class AA by Off the Mat. The Trojans showed why they are so highly ranked, racking up a 24-0 advantage en route to a 57-18 victory, giving Lewisburg a 4-1 mark and second place in the eight-team event.
Against Canton’s Butcher, Aikey scored the initial takedown, got reversed, then took Butcher to his back and got the fall as Lewisburg’s bench mobbed their newest hero.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure. Everybody’s depending on you, and you just have to go out there and wrestle as hard as you can,” Aikey said.
After falling behind 21-6 after five bouts, consecutive pins by Brandon Smith (220), Kyle Santorine (285), Brian Friery (106), Jordan Gessner (113) and Dante Taylor (120) put Lewisburg on top 36-27 before the Warriors made their final run.
Aikey said the five pins in a row did wonders for the team. “Yeah, that was definitely a big help. It boosted our esteem and we were feeling good,” he said.
Host Line Mountain (4-6) went 3-2 on the day and finished with an 18-12 win over Great Valley in the consolation pool final, to take fifth place
Aikey said that, despite the loss, wrestling Mount Union will help the team. “It really just showed us the level we need to be at if we want to do well in the (District 4 ) duals ... a sense of where we need to be and how hard we need to wrestle,” he said.
Snyder was pleased with his team’s day, and agreed wrestling teams like Mount Union will help prepare for the post-season.
“We had some humble goals again. One was to win more than we lost. We thought if we would come out of here 3-1 we would be pleased, so 4-1 is a bonus,” Snyder said.
He said he knew the Green Dragons were going to be in trouble against Mount Union (13-1, losing only to No. 7 West Branch).
He said that, just like momentum helped Lewisburg against Canton, it worked against his team when Mount Union got pins in the first four bouts. “They look at that and think, We had two of our best guys (Max Reed and Nicholas Bernstein) and they got decked. Yeah, that will affect you,” Snyder added.
Snyder said he was pleased, although not satisfied, and that the Dragons will bounce back from the loss. “These guys will respond; they responded all year. They work hard and they are not just resting on their record (14-3). They will be alright,” he said.
Line Mountain coach Mike Martz, who has dealt with more holes in his lineup than any Eagles team in many years, liked how his guys performed, and was happy to pick up two football players, Nick Strohecker and Robert Cook, to fill in the upper weights.
“Our goal was to win three matches and we did, so I’m happy with that. We have some stuff to work on and correct as a team, but that’s why we wrestle five matches (in the tournament),” he said.