The numbers on the scoreboard might have shown a mismatch but both teams involved knew that wasn't the case.
Top-seeded Pen Argyl used eight hard-fought decisions to help them to a 41-9 victory over Northern Lehigh in the District 11 Class AA team dual semifinals on Monday night at Freedom High School.
Despite the lopsided score, the undefeated Green Knights (17-0) didn't march all over the Bulldogs. The match was tight in the beginning, with Northern Lehigh winning decisions in two of the first five bouts. The Bulldogs then hung tough throughout the night, falling short in a handful of decisions.
"I think it was a hard-fought match," Northern Lehigh coach Todd Herzog said. "I don't think the score was indicative of what the outcome actually was. If you go up and down that lineup and look at some of the tight bouts, I think it was a hotly-contested match, no doubt about it."
After Dylan Hoffman rallied for a 4-3 decision over Pen Argyl's Luciano Burriesci in the 140-pound bout, Northern Lehigh dropped eight of the final nine bouts. Five of those Green Knight wins were decisions, with three bouts being decided by four points or less.
"All the bouts were close," Pen Argyl coach Scott Kupec said. "They (Northern Lehigh) have some studs on that team. There's like six or eight of them. They're loaded. It was a fun match."
Pen Argyl went on to beat third-seeded Saucon Valley 39-21 in the district finals later Monday night.
The turning point of the semifinals was at 145 pounds. With Northern Lehigh's Chris Christ leading 7-6 against Rex Lutz in the final moments of the third period, Lutz was rewarded a two-point takedown right before the final buzzer to earn the one-point decision and give Pen Argyl a 12-6 edge. Northern Lehigh (14-5) would only muster one more victory the rest of the night, an 8-3 decision for Colin Hedash at 189 pounds.
Coach Herzog wasn't pleased with the official's decision at the end of the 145-pound bout.
"I felt that the time was way out," Herzog said. "He (the referee) didn't put a hand up for two until he went over to the table. He didn't even question at the table."
Zane Heller was the other Bulldog to earn a victory, recording a 12-1 major decision over Kyle Kutzler at 125 pounds to give Northern Lehigh a 4-3 lead after two bouts.
For Pen Argyl, Dylan Evans scored a technical fall at 171 pounds and Kirby Mutton and Matty Williams earned back-to-back pins at heavyweight and 103 pounds.
Hoffman was fairly pleased with how far his team advanced in the team duals, considering they are a young squad. But following the 41-14 loss in the regular season and Monday night's loss to Pen Argyl, he realizes the Green Knights are a very good team.
"We had a good year. We had some weak spots and we had our strong points," the sophomore said. "But obviously Pen Argyl is tough this year, real tough. We knew that coming in they were going to be tough and they were better than us today and when we wrestled them before."
The Bulldogs will host Lehighton in their final dual meet of the season on Thursday. Northern Lehigh will then compete in individual district competition on Feb. 26-27 at Freedom and Liberty High Schools.
With the dual-meet season coming to an end, Herzog believes his team matured a lot this season and looks forward to a bright future for Northern Lehigh wrestling.
"I think we produced a lot of positive things," Herzog said. "There are not a lot of seniors in our lineup. We've got some young kids who we felt it was time to step up to the plate and get a taste of the big leagues here a little bit. So I think there are some more positives to come for us the next few years."
Pen Argyl 41, Northern Lehigh 9
119 - James Elphick (PA) dec. Connor Hedash, 6-4
125 - Zane Heller (NL) maj. dec. Kyle Kutzler, 12-1
130 - Tyler Knapik (PA) dec. Kyle Baumann, 6-0
135 - Mikey Racciato (PA) dec. Nikko Stevens, 7-4
140 - Dylan Hoffman (NL) dec. Luciano Burriesci, 4-3
145 - Rex Lutz (PA) dec. Chris Christ, 8-7
152 - Phil Racciato (PA) dec. Craemer Hedash, 16-12
160 - J.D. Rabenold (PA) dec. Zach Fleming, 10-3
171 - Dylan Evans (PA) tech. fall Kyle Greenwald, 17-2, 3:15
189 - Colin Hedash (NL) dec. Tyler Horn 8-3
215 - Andrew Salamone (PA) dec. Dan Huemmer, 5-3
285 - Kirby Mutton (PA) pinned Brandon Loch in 1:29
103 - Matty Williams (PA) pinned Ryan Martinez in 0:20
112 - Jamie Welsh (PA) dec. Ty Herzog, 14-7
Note: Northern Lehigh was deducted a team point during the 135-pound bout.