Palmerton coach David Lavin has been preaching focus to his team and it looks like the message was received. The Bombers showed the focus and concentration their coach was looking for with a strong showing at the Anthracite Duals on Saturday.
Palmerton went 4-1 on the day, picking up wins over Tri-Valley, 36-31, Halifax, 46-33, Williams Valley, 34-33, and Midd-West, 39-37, to finish second in the nine team tournament. Palmerton's only loss came to eventual tournament champion Penns Valley, 51-17.
"One of the things we've been talking a lot about this week has been focus," Lavin said. "Trying to work an entire match and be aggressive. We've been doing a lot of drills and just trying to focus on 30 seconds at a time and the task at hand.
"That's what these matches were about. It was about focus."
Lavin tried to make sure his team stayed in the moment throughout the tournament.
"It's tough to come in and know you're going to wrestle five tough teams and we had to take our time," said Lavin. "One individual match at a time, one big match at a time and that's what they did.
"We wrestled a lot of close ones. It started with Tri Valley and they just found ways to get it done."
Palmerton showed resolve early in the tournament against Tri Valley. The Bombers needed Joe Bubble to score a victory in his bout at 145 against Hunter Harner, a state qualifier a year ago, in order to secure the team win. Bubble defeated Harner in overtime, 3-2, to help Palmerton secure the 36-31 win.
Coach Lavin pointed to performances such as Bubble's as a prime example of the character and makeup of his team. Lavin believes that a strong work ethic will propel the Bombers to success during the rest of the season.
"We just want to focus on one thing at a time," said Lavin. "We've got two tough matches coming up this week and we have to be ready for them.
"We showed a lot of teamwork today and guys found ways to get it done even when things weren't going our way. I'm hoping we can continue to improve the rest of the season."
Host Panther Valley didn't fare quite as well as Palmerton, but still had a strong showing in the tournament. The Panthers went 2-3 on the day, losing to Pius X, 35-39, Penns Valley, 22-45, Tri-Valley, 39-40, but picked up victories over Midd-West, 48-24, and Halifax, 52-24.
Panthers coach Tim Robb felt good about his team after the tournament and the reputation the program has established.
"We came in and knew everybody was on the same level," said Robb. "We knew there were going to be a lot of close matches."
Close was an understatement for the Panthers, who lost a match on Criteria H to Tri-Valley, which is most first points scored.
Robb was honest in his assessment of his team after the tournament.
"We didn't wrestle poorly but we have work to do," Robb said. "We wrestle Tri-Valley on Wednesday and that's the team that we tied so we get another shot at them."
Robb was proud of the performance and development of his young team at this stage of the season.
"It's really been a team thing," Robb said. "We did a lot of wrestling during the off-season and they're really coming along.
"They're really still very young. I have seven sophomores, two freshman and two juniors. We're young but they're good kids."
Robb believes he has created a solid foundation that the team can build on in the coming years.
"Our elementary and our junior high programs are both in a pretty good spot," said Robb. "We also started a wrestling club that has helped us a lot."
The Lehighton Indians, also a young team attempting to create an identity, struggled in the tournament. The Indians finished the tournament 0-4, losing to Pius X, 31-38, to Williams Valley, 36-39, to Halifax, 31-40, and to Midd-West, 22-54.
Lehighton coach Dan Williams admitted that his team has work to do.
"We've got a lot of work to do and we just have to keep working hard in the practice room," Williams said.
Williams was pleased with the improvement he saw in a few of his wrestlers and believes the team can build on that moving forward.
"I saw a few kids progressing a little bit," Williams said. "Marques Spencer got himself four wins today and Zach Kemmerer had a 4-0 day today, which was really nice. I thought he wrestled really tough."