---- — By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG -- Mike Martz knew he was taking his team into battle with about as much chance as Gen. George Custer at Little Bighorn.
Lewisburg was getting 24 free points via forfeit, plus the Green Dragons had three wrestlers who were likely to get pins.
Yes, 42 points is too much to overcome, but No. 13 seed Line Mountain fought valiantly before falling 45-28 Wednesday night in a first-round match in the District 4 Class AA Duals Tournament to the No. 4 Dragons.
The loss ends the Eagles' regular season at 9-9 while Lewisburg (18-4) advances to the quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Saturday in Milton versus No. 12 Hughesville (12-9). The Spartans, who beat the Dragons 57-18 two weeks ago, topped No. 5 Wyalusing 39-26.
Martz knew this was the end of the line for his team until the individual post-season, but he was glad to get the opportunity for his young team.
Lewisburg assistant coach Mike Brown, subbing for Jim Snyder, who was out of town on business, said, "(The Eagles) came to wrestle and I give them credit for that. I knew they would.
"It's hard, when you're looking at all those holes, to keep your kids up and focused because some of them know they're not wrestling and it can suck the other ones down with them," Brown added.
Lewisburg won the meet despite posting only four wins on the mat.
Helping the Green Dragons pull away were pins by Kyle Santorine, in the opening bout at 285 pounds, Max Reed at 160 and Brandon Smith, to close out at 220.
"I thought our guys wrestled hard tonight," Brown said.
In between, however, the visitors gave their fans plenty to applaud along with optimism for the post-season and next year.
With the Eagles trailing 12-0, Line Mountain sophomore Cameron Newman, a returning state qualifier made a second-period reversal stand up to edge Brian Friery at 113 to improve to 25-6. Friery, a freshman, came in at 22-2.
In arguably the biggest surprise, Eagle freshman Brendan Renn, who had a sub-.500 record, majored sophomore Nick Bernstein (21-5 coming in) 14-5 at 182, after getting takedown early in the bout.
"Brendan Renn was the highlight of the night for us," Martz said. "He's been coming on. He was the leader in the sense that he got popped in the mouth and he came back. When you get knocked down, you have to come back and that's important for everyone to see going into the post-season."
But Brown was just as proud of Friery. "He was giving up some weight and wrestling a state qualifier. He wrestled a good hard match. He was a takedown away."
Renn rallied with a reversal and two nearfall points in the first period, then got a reversal and three more back points for a 9-0 lead after two, He took Bernstein down again and added three nearfall points in the third.
In another good match-up, Lewisburg sophomore Logan Aikey improved to 21-6 with a 5-3 overtime win over senior Britton Heim.
They were tied at 3-3 after regulation, although Britton nearly got a takedown near the edge of the mat in the second period. Aikey's reversal in the second overtime proved to be the winner as Heim was unable to get off the bottom in the third.
"That was the match," right there," Brown said.
The Eagles made a run with pins by Blake Carl (132), Seth Lansberry (138) and Erik Smeltz (170).
"They needed some breaks and where they needed the breaks, we had some horses, and that helped us out," Brown said.