Sometimes sports can mean something more than who wins and who loses. Especially for a high school coach who can only hope his team can pull out those hidden lessons within the sport.
Last night, coach Todd Herzog's team did just that.
A huge Colonial League wrestling showdown with Saucon Valley was greatly affected by a day that left the Bulldogs shorthanded. Beset with injuries, sickness, and what Coach Herzog called "internal problems", Northern Lehigh fell to Saucon Valley 45-21.
"I cannot tell you how proud I am of this team," coach Herzog said. "They went through so much adversity, internal stuff that was circumstances beyond their control, and they rose above it."
The Bulldogs even lost their first coin toss of the year to start the night costing them the opportunity to create some much needed match up advantages.
With a forfeit at 103 to Saucon's Bryan Israel, Herzog tried his only move that did not work out leaving the Bulldogs down 12-0 after two bouts. With their backs against the wall, the Bulldogs came alive.
Lucas Dise (119) and Zane Heller (125) scored a major decision and a technical fall respectively to cut into the Panther lead at 12-9.
One of the key matches of the night followed. The Bulldogs' Cody Bowman (130), in his first varsity bout, battled Paul Slaond into the third period. The close match turned into a fall as Sloand caught Bowman off-balance and took him down to his back.
"He wrestled hard and picked up some much needed points," Saucon coach Chad Shirk said. "That could have been a nine point swing if they win the close match."
Another loss at 135 pushed the lead to 21-9, but the Bulldogs kept fighting.
Despite an emergency room visit the night before and wrestling up a weight, Austin Stevens one of Northern Lehigh's 'under the weather' wrestlers scratched and clawed his way to an 8-4 win.
At 145, Ty Herzog went into the third period tied with Travis Buddock, but an escape and a takedown to his back secured the win for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs were still in striking distance, but the Panthers upended Dylan Hoffman (152) and Conner Hedash (160) to eliminate Northern Lehigh's chance of pulling out the win.
"When you get a team like Northern Lehigh, they are going to battle from top to bottom," Shirk said.
Never one to make excuses, Herzog credited the Saucon Valley squad for doing their job by getting bonus points where needed and keeping the Bulldogs from getting their share of extra points.
"You have to give them credit," Herzog said. "Those kids at 119 and 125 did their job not to give up six."
Collin Hedash grabbed a quick fall at 189 to finish out the scoring, but in the end it was a match where the score did not indicate its true outcome. Although it was the first loss of season for Northern Lehigh (5-1, 4-1), the team became a stronger unit.
"Some boys became young men tonight," Herzog said. "To see true character building in your young men, that is what it is all about."
Saucon Vy. 45 No. Lehigh 21
103-Bryan Israel (SV) win by forfeit
112-Brody Bisson (SV) pinned Zach Leiby (NL) 0:57
119-Lucas Dise (NL) maj dec Will Jusino (SV) 11-1
125-Zane Heller (NL) tech fall Spencer Beaver (SV) 19-3, 6:00
130-Paul Sloand (SV) pinned Cody Bowman (NL) 5:04
135-Nate Gimbar (SV) dec Kyle Baumann (NL) 9-4
140-Austin Stevens (NL) dec Andrei Gaulsing (SV) 8-4
145-Ty Herzog (NL) dec Travis Buddock (SV) 9-5
152-John Lynch (SV) dec Dylan Hoffman (NL) 4-1
160-Richard York (SV) dec Conner Hedash (NL) 8-4
171-Ray O'Donnell (SV) pinned Dan Marsh (NL) 1:06
189-Colin Hedash (NL) pinned Justin Blobe (SV) 0:42
215-Ian Gimbar (SV) pinned Brody Minnich (NL)