By Harold Raker and Frank Dimon
The Daily Item
MILTON -- Looking at the scores of their previous meetings, it certainly seemed ominous for Lewisburg and Warrior Run in Saturday's District 4 Class AA Duals quarterfinals at Milton High School.
Both the Green Dragons and the Defenders had lost to Saturday's opponents, Hughesville and Benton, respectively, by more than 30 points.
The No. 2 seeded Defenders and the No, 4 Green Dragons did lose to the lower-seeded teams, but not the way many would have expected.
Benton beat Warrior Run 39-30, and Hughesville advanced with a 40-30 victory over Lewisburg, but both matches, wrestled simultaneously, came down to the final bout, at 195 pounds.
"I told them we can walk out of here with our heads held high. Up there? Not so much," Lewisburg coach Jim Snyder said.
Lewisburg (18-5) did what Snyder hoped, getting out to a big lead. He was hoping for 18-0, but the Dragons went up 24-0 after four bouts.
The additional six came from freshman Jordan Gessner, who bumped up a weight to 113 and rallied from a 4-0 deficit, then reversed and decked sophomore Houston Bryant in 3:45.
"Jordy Gessner bumped up and was much smaller, you could see it, and pinning the guy who beat (teammate Brian Friery in the previous meeting) ..." Snyder said.
"Now we are up 24 and we've got 10 more matches," he said. "Now we've got to cut the matches down, but we had one too many."
The Spartans, who advanced to the state tournament as the third-place team, never led until returning state runner-up Kyle Barnes' fall at 152 gave Hughesville a 31-27 advantage with three bouts to go. Lewisburg's Max Reed closed it to 31-30 in the next bout, with a 6-4 win with a reversal at the buzzer over Matthew Herr.
Snyder praised Reed for his win and also Logan Aikey (152) for wrestling well in a 2-1 loss.
But Hughesville (13-9) closed it out with a 3-0 win by Robert White and Dakota Gee's clinching pin over Jamison Bond in 5:30.
In Warrior Run's quarterfinal loss to eventual runner-up Benton the Defenders couldn't sustain a solid start that saw them lead the Tigers 30-5 after seven bouts. The Defenders got wins from Matt Kilgus (in the opening bout at 220), Zack LeBarron (106), and Brandon Giannantonio (132) and took advantage of Benton forfeits at 285, 113, and 126.
"That wasn't the start I was looking for," said Benton coach Russ Hughes. "Warrior Run came to wrestle and we got beat up a little bit in the lighter weights. But we did weather the storm."
Kilgus beat Marcus Welliver 6-1 while LeBarron upped his perfect record to 25-0 with a second-period fall over Alan Diltz. Giannantonio picked up a solid 6-1 decision over Ron Flick. Tyler Hornberger also saved the Defenders a point when he limited No. 2-ranked Matt Welliver to a technical fall at 120.
"We had our opportunity and certainly the opening part of our lineup created that opportunity. They did a great job," Warrior Run coach Wayne Smythe said.
But Warrior Run didn't win again after Giannantonio's decision at 132. Still, the Defenders held a 30-24 lead and had state-ranked Dan Breech waiting at 170 against Brandon Lontz. But Lontz pulled off a mild upset of the Defenders' junior, getting a fall in 3:53.