With the end of the season looming, Northern Lehigh wrestling coach Steve Hluschak knows how important every match is.
After Thursday night's contest against Palmerton, it's clear his team does too.
The Bulldogs looked more than ready for the postseason, rolling to a convincing 59-17 Colonial League win over the Bombers.
"This was a great win for us. Not only is it a league rival, but it's also a rival in terms of proximity, with Palmerton being right next door," Hluschak said. "We talked to the guys at the beginning of the year about beating the teams in our league, especially our rivals, and then moving forward from there onto bigger and better things.
"But we always want to take care of business with league matches. And I thought this was a great win. We wrestled hard and we wrestled for six minutes, and were aggressive, that's what it's all about."
Palmerton surrendered 30 points on five forfeits in the contest, but Northern Lehigh did more the enough to earn its points in the matches that were contested.
The Bulldogs (12-6) picked up wins in six of the eight bouts that took place, earning bonus points in four of them. Austin Hemingway (120), Ryan Farber (132) and Theo Young (195) picked up wins by fall, while Matt Schmall (126) earned a dominant technical fall victory.
Northern Lehigh's Nate Farber (170) and Austin Arnold (182) each picked up decision victories.
Palmerton (6-7) coach David Lavin was forced to juggle his lineup due to injuries, which proved to be too much for the Bombers to overcome.
"We were very limited with our lineup," Lavin said afterwards. "We came in with nine or 10 guys tonight; we have a couple of injuries and a couple of guys that are on the fence. So we didn't really have many options with where to put guys (in the lineup) and we didn't get matchups that would have been ideal for us."
The Bombers got strong performances from Josh Evans (138) and Zack Christman (145), who picked up wins by technical fall and fall, respectively.
Zachary Graver (160) earned Palmerton's other win via forfeit.
While disappointed with the loss, Lavin knows his squad will be able to gain something from going against a Northern Lehigh team that's proven to be one of the toughest in the Colonial League this season.
"Looking at the matches that we wrestled, we definitely have some stuff to work on. But it wasn't all bad," the coach said. "There were some guys that just had tough kids tonight and hopefully we had some learning experiences in those matches.
"But Northern Lehigh did a great job. They've come a long way and they just wrestled a really good match. Hopefully, we'll learn from it, adjust and come back stronger the next time."
For Northern Lehigh, the focus is on finishing strong.
The Bulldogs recently locked up a spot in next week's Class AA District Duals, currently as the fourth seed. With no other matches on the docket before next weekend, the Bulldogs will look to carry the momentum of their current 6-1 run in dual meets into the tournament.
"It feels really good. That's the kind of stuff we're working for, to get extra mat time," Hluschak said. "Not everyone else gets to wrestle in those events. So we look at that as a couple more matches for our guys.
"We're wrestling really well right now. I don't think we're the best team out there, but we're certainly not the worst team out there. We can definitely surprise some people if we wrestle the way were capable of. You want to peak at the end of the year and I think we're doing that."
No. Lehigh 59, Palmerton 17
106 - Colton Rex (NL) won by forfeit
*113 - Jacob Kistler (NL) won by forfeit
120 - Austin Hemingway (NL) pinned Brandon Traugher in 5:04
126 - Matt Schmall (NL) tech. fall Daniel Russo, 15-0 (4:44)
132 - Ryan Farber (NL) pinned Travis Stroup in 0:58
138 - Josh Evans (P) tech. fall Ryan Rubio, 16-0 (4:00)
145 - Zach Christman (P) pinned in CJ Young in 2:58
152 - Chad Cederberg (NL) won by forfeit
160 - Zach Graver (P) won by forfeit
170 - Nate Farber (NL) dec. Jared Mooney, 8-1
182 - Austin Arnold (NL) dec. Matt Wolfe, 4-1
195 - Theo Young (NL) pinned John Iles in 1:51
220 - Stephen Scheib (NL) won by forfeit
285 - Cameron Kates (NL) won by forfeit
* - Match started at 113 pounds.