Ogozalek, Evans hit milestones
bob ford/times news Panther Valley's Richard Nase (top) takes down Lehighton's Logan Berger in their 195 pound bout. Nase eventually recorded a pin.
Getting to 100 wins in a high school wrestling career is a special event that takes a combination of talent, hard work and longevity over successive years.
At Saturday afternoon's Anthracite Duals, all of those factors came together not once, but twice, as Panther Valley's Lenny Ogozalek and Palmerton's Josh Evans both reached the impressive milestone.
"It feels great, and it was nice to have all of the fans and parents here, too," Ogozalek said of accomplishing the feat in his home gym. "It feels like a big relief off of my back and it allows me to focus on other things, such as leagues, districts and advancing from there."
Evans, who entered the tournament with 99 wins, didn't have to wait long to break into triple-digits, as the Palmerton senior secured the landmark victory in his first match of the day, pinning Midd-West's Andrew Zerby at 145 pounds in just less than five minutes.
"It's a really big milestone and I'm really happy with it, but I just tried to think of it as any other match," he said. "Hopefully, I will be able to accomplish some other goals I have this season and reach some other milestones before the end of the year."
Ogozalek, who went 5-0 at 113-pounds, helped Panther Valley secure fourth place in the ever-growing 15-team tournament with a 3-2 record. The Panthers defeated Lehighton 37-36, Williams Valley 53-20 and Penns Valley 44-31 to reach the semifinals, before falling to eventual runner-up Father Judge 53-18 and Williamson 39-37 in the third-place bout.
The Panthers also got strong performances from Richard Nase (5-0), Rian Shubeck (4-1) and Lukas Mika (4-1).
"Overall, I thought we had a pretty good day," said Panther Valley coach Tim Robb. "We wrestled really well against a tough Penns Valley team that I wasn't sure we were going to beat, and we wrestled really well against Williamson and could have won that match.
"But it was a good day for us. It was definitely good to get everybody in the lineup. I'm very happy with how the guys performed."
Palmerton used a strong finish to earn a 3-2 mark in the tournament. The Bombers opened with a 39-33 win over Midd-West, but fell to eventual champion North Schuylkill 57-21 and Abington Heights 44-34 in consecutive matches before rebounding for a 35-34 win over Lehighton and a 48-21 victory over Pius X in their last match.
"We lost a close one to (Abington Heights) early in the day. But what I was happy about was that we didn't let it get to us," said Palmerton coach Dave Lavin. "We came back and won a very close match against Lehighton, which I thought was very impressive for our guys, and had a nice finish against Pius X.
"When you get to the postseason, you need to keep going strong, even if you get knocked into the consolation round. You can't let one bad match hurt you. It's important to reset and refocus after tough losses when you're expecting something to go one way and it doesn't. You need to be able to regroup and that's what we did today."
The dominant 5-0 performance by Evans certainly wasn't the only individual highlight for the Bombers, with Zach Christman going 4-1 and Zach Graver posting a 4-0 mark.
Lehighton finished the tournament 2-3, with two of the Indians' three losses coming by a single point. The other defeat came in another very competitive match, a 42-29 loss to Penns Valley.
Lehighton earned its two wins against Williams Valley and Tri-Valley, picking up a 46-34 win over the Vikings and a 36-22 victory over the Bulldogs, which came in the Indians' last match of the day.
While Lehighton coach Dan Williams was pleased with the two victories, he still sees plenty of room for improvement heading into the second half of the season.
"We were up-and-down all day and just struggled in a couple of matches," the coach said. "What I take away from today is that we still have a lot of work to do. We just have to get back in that room and keep working, because these are teams that are going to be in our district once we get into the postseason."
Individually, Tegan Durishin and Connor Frey each went 5-0 for the Indians, while Ezra Neff posted a solid 4-1 mark in the tournament.