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Lehighton grabs third-place finish

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    Jim Thorpe’s Trent Hunter (back) and Tunkhannock’s Jaden Kozlouski battle at 195 pounds. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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    Lehighton’s Brett Gasker (top) controls Chandler Roman of Whitehall in their 220-pound bout. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published January 13. 2020 12:18PM


Floyd Brown knows it can be hard to build confidence without a lot of momentum.

A slow start to the season, and several untimely injuries, weren’t what the Lehighton head coach envisioned for his squad.

But Brown watched as the Tribe began to round into form Saturday, with the hosts posting a 3-2 mark en route to a third-place finish at the Indian Duals.

“We started the year 0-5, and three of those matches were pretty close, where we went down to the final match,” said Brown. ”When you lose five, it can be hard to keep that excitement up. But after today, I can see they’re a little more excited, a little more energetic, and hopefully that carries over now and we can use that as some momentum going into the next couple of weeks.”

Lehighton went 2-1 in Pool B of the eight-team event. The Indians defeated Panther Valley 60-24 and topped Scranton 57-16, but fell to Whitehall 52-21.

The Tribe bounced back from a 44-26 loss to Tunkhannock in the semifinals with a gritty 37-30 win over East Stroudsburg North to secure third place.

“Five matches in that amount of time just kind of gets you ready to move on (in the postseason) with conditioning and the whole nine yards,” said Brown. “We’re kind of in the middle of the year trying to get over that hump to get into the back part of the year.”

Richard Fronheiser went 5-0 with five pins for Lehighton (3-7). Brett Gasker also went 5-0 with four pins and one forfeit. Lucas Sangiuliano was 4-1, with his only loss coming to Tunkhannock’s Dave Evans, a state qualifier and District 2 and regional champion last year. Alex Zeigenfuss, Steven Fritzinger and Lukas Ferguson went 4-1, and Michael Yeakel finished 3-1.

“Our heavyweight (Yeakel) is just coming back from an injury, Lukas Ferguson is just coming back from an injury,” said Brown. “Those are kids who really haven’t practiced in two weeks and we got them out here, kind of catching up on some of the practices they missed, and conditioning they missed, in heat-of-the-moment situations.”

The Tribe battled back from a 24-10 deficit to top East Stroudsburg North. Gasker pinned Nicolas Paredes in 4:49 to cut it to 24-16, and Yeakel followed by pulling out a tough 4-2 decision over Kyle Harris in sudden victory overtime, making it 24-19.

With neither team sending out a wrestler at 106, the Timberwolves got a pin from Manuel Lopez at 113 pounds to push their advantage up to 30-19.

But the Tribe won the final four bouts to take the match.

Lukas Ferguson picked apart Jason Conrad at 120 pounds, posting a 16-1 (4:13) technical fall to cut the deficit to 30-24. Nicholas Zeigenfuss got a forfeit at 126 to tie it, before a decision from Fritzinger (132) and a major from Lucas Sangiuliano (138) sealed the win.

Fronheiser’s pin at 170, and Alex Zeigenfuss’s major decision at 182, also gave Lehighton valuable bonus points.

“It was a good day overall,” said Brown. “It’s quality mat time. We got some good experiences today.”

Jim Thorpe posted a 1-2 mark in Pool A. After falling to East Stroudsburg North (38-30) and Tunkhannock (40-38) to start the day, the Olympians ripped off three straight wins, topping Allen 49-27 before posting victories over Panther Valley (72-6) and Scranton (54-24) to finish 3-2 overall.

“It’s a long day of wrestling, five duals, five matches,” said Olympians’ head coach Shawn Albert. “That’s essentially the most you’re going to be able to get in a postseason tournament in one day. And we did talk about that coming into it, that even though it’s a team tournament and round robin, we look at it as getting better each round, and I think that’s what we did today.”

Derek Hunter, Gabe Heaney and Jared Newhall all posted 5-0 marks for the Olympians (7-5). William Schwartz, Kendall Heron and Trent Hunter finished 4-1.

Caleb McDermott and Ridge Snyder were both 3-2.

All five of Newhall’s victories came by pinfall. The times were :13, 1:10, :47, 1:14 and 3:00. Hunter had three pins, a decision and a forfeit.

Heaney had three pins, a forfeit, and a hard-fought 14-12 decision over East Stroudsburg North’s Cristofer Torres in his first match of the day.

“I’m proud of the team,” said Albert. “We talked about making sure we come out of today with a positive record, and that’s what we did.”

The Panthers went 0-5. In addition to losses to Lehighton and Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley also suffered a narrow setback against Scranton (37-36), before dropping a 69-6 decision to eventual champion Whitehall and finishing with a 78-3 loss to Allen.

“We’re into the heart of the season; that’s what I told the guys,” said Panther Valley head coach Zane Bachert. “It’s not going to get any easier from here. We had the Anthracite Duals last weekend, we have duals this weekend, and we do that so they know what it’s going to feel like when we get to leagues, districts and later in the season.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction. Jonathan Byers went 4-1 today, and he was 2-2 last weekend, so he’s progressing and heading in the right direction.”

De’Antay Alston went 2-1 with two pins for the Panthers.

GRAND FINALE … Whitehall and Tunkhannock went 3-0 in Pool A and B, respectively. The Zephyrs defeated East Stroudsburg North 54-24, while the Tigers took down the Tribe to setup a showdown for the title.

A 42-25 triumph helped Whitehall capture its third title, and second straight at the tournament.

LOOKING AHEAD … Jim Thorpe will host the annual Schuylkill League Tournament this Friday and Saturday. Look for more information about the event coming up in this week’s notebook. The Coal Cracker event, which will be held at Lehighton this year, and the District 11 Team Tournament, will close out the month.



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