By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
He was already guaranteed a berth in the PIAA Class AA tournament. Yet Cameron Newman carried a lot of weight on his shoulders in his 106-pound championship Saturday in the Northeast Regional Tournament.
That’s because just a week ago, Newman, a Line Mountain sophomore, lost to the same opponent, Lewisburg freshman Brian Friery, in the District 4 tournament, in the same Williamsport High School gym.
Newman made a third-period reversal stand up for a 2-0 win, thus taking the rubber match on the season. Newman beat Friery in a dual earlier in the season.
“I had a lot of pressure on me to beat him in that match,” Newman said.
Newman was one of seven Valley wrestlers to win titles Saturday and one of 16 who advanced to the state tourney. The top three place-winners moved on.
The other champions included Kent Lane, Southern Columbia, at 126; Ryan Preisch, Milton, at 152; Ty Walter, Mifflinburg, at 160; Ryan Solomon, Milton, at 195; Brandon Smith, Lewisburg, at 220; and Nazar Mironenko, Mifflinburg, at 285.
In addition to Friery, the other Valley wrestlers to lose in the finals were Cole Walter, Mifflinburg, 132; Seth Lansberry, Line Mountain, 138; and Blake Marks, Southern Columbia, 152.
Battling back for third place were Warrior Run’s Zack LeBarron, 106; his teammate, Eric Hunt, 113; Zach Heeter, Midd-West, 145; his teammate, Alex Lieberman, 170; and Southern’s Jake Becker, 285.
Newman, a returning state qualifier, said, “(Friery) knows how my offense goes; he has good defense for what my offense is.”
In a scoreless match in the second, Newman was hit with a pair of cautions and a stall warning. With choice in the third, he took bottom and quickly rolled through for the winning reversal.
“When I wrestled him last week I (also) had those cautions and I think that’s why I lost the match,” Newman said. “I was glad when I got bottom third period because I work hard to get off bottom when I have to. I just had to get out, especially with the cautions and stalls.”
Lane won his first regional title, taking a 3-0 finals win over Wyoming Area’s Andrew Schutz.
Lane said he feels better with a title after a third-place finish last season. “Much better. When you put in the work you want to be on top, so it feels great.”
He said last year’s post-season disappointment motivated him. “It didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to, so I put a lot of work in during the off-season, all spring, summer and fall to not only be better but pick it up a notch and hopefully win a state title as a sophomore,” Lane said.
“I knew (Schutz) was strong and he slows down the match,” Lane said, “He’s not a real offensive wrestler, so I tried to dictate the pace, beat him on my feet.”
He scored all of his points in the second period with an escape and a takedown.
“That was huge, you score that first takedown, even if it’s in the second period, the guy with the first takedown wins a lot of times,” he said. “I knew I was going to have to beat him on my feet to win the match.”
Line Mountain returning state place-winner Lansberry lost for the second week in a row in the finals to former teammate and world champion Zain Retherford at 138. But he made some strides from the previous match.
The bout was scoreless until the third when Lansberry cut Retherford loose, only to have Retherford score a quick takedown en route to a 3-0 win.
“I was just flatfooted and I wasn’t moving and he caught me off guard. I reached, which you should never do. I made a mistake, he countered on it right away and took me down,” Lansberry said.
“I did a little better this week on bottom than I did last seek,” he added. “(I have to do) a few things here and there, keep tweaking, get back in the room, keep working.”
In a battle of two Valley wrestlers, junior Preisch once again dominated Southern freshman Marks before pinning him in 5 minutes, 15 seconds.
“I’m just wrestling hard,” Preisch said. “I felt great all day; I have been feeling great for a while. I have to carry it through one more week.”
Ty Walter, a former state place-winner, eked out a 3-2 win over returning place-winner, Benton’s Jeric Kasunic. Walter was wrestling with the condition of his younger brother Cole on his mind.
The latter, suffering from a breathing problem, lost 7-6 in the finals to unbeaten Austin Harry of Lake-Lehman on a controversial buzzer-beating takedown. Cole Walter is a returning third-place finisher. Ty Walter declined comment after his win to be with his brother.
Smith, who despite 122 career wins, won his first regional title, having battled in the past with Milton’s state champion Solomon and Ryan Hembury of Muncy.
“It feels good; I’ve had a lot of good competition ahead of me the last two years. It’s good to get that chip off my shoulder and now focus on winning a state championship,” said Smith, who placed fifth last year.
The Valley’s two returning state titleists, Solomon and Mironenko won titles with little trouble, but in different ways.
Solomon, who tied former four-time Milton state champion Bob Crawford’s school win record of 138 in the finals, cranked over Muncy’s Skyler Ebner with a half-nelson and pinned him in 2:35.
“I don’t really keep track of records but to tie him is awesome,” Solomon said. “I just go out and do my stuff.”
Mironenko, despite dominating the bout, settled for a 7-4 decision over Central Columbia’s Alex Shiber.
Mironenko complained afterward about the lack of stalling calls against his opponents. “I was working my (butt) off out there. I’m trying, and trying, and all the ref’s doing is blowing the whistle and saying ‘Get to the center.’”