WILLIAMSPORT – He’s heard many people say it.
“Get your young guys to Williamsport. Let them experience the atmosphere.”
“People say just being here is a great thing, but we want to win some matches, too,” Lake-Lehman head coach JJ Konigus said.
While the Black Knights didn’t qualify any wrestler for the state tournament, Lehman did get some quality performances at last weekend’s Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 2A Northeast Regional – especially from the underclassmen.
Bob Long (106) and Bob Lipski (138) each placed fifth in their respective weight classes, while five of the six Lehman grapplers at regionals will return back from the 2016-17 season.
Benton won the team title with 98 points. Wyalusing, Southern Columbia, Montoursville and Lewisburg rounded out the top 5. Meyers was the top team placer from the Wyoming Valley Conference with 31 points.
“I don’t think we wrestled terrible. I thought that we wrestled OK,” Konigus said. “This was good for our freshmen and sophomores. I thought they wrestled well in this kind of environment. The fifths were good for Long and Lipski, and I thought that Kaleb (Konigus) wrestled well at heavyweight. He was just a little undersized. For the most part, I thought we wrestled well.”
Long started off the tournament strong. He quickly hit a five-point move on Montgomery’s Brandon Daldo for a 5-0 lead after the first period in the 106-pound quarterfinal, and added a single-leg shot and dump in the third for the 7-2 victory.
“Well, this wasn’t my first time wrestling here. I was here with PJW’s a few years ago. It was scary then because the gym was so big. At least it looked real big back then,” Long said. “I just told myself that this was just another match.”
He ran into some tough matches on the tournament’s second day. He was pinned by Benton sophomore Joe Klock in the semifinals, and dropped his first consolation match to Bloomsburg’s Colby Bronzburg by major decision.
Long rebounded by pinning Daldo in the fifth-place bout.
Downed in his 138-pound opener to Wyalusing’s Creighton Edsell, Lipski won his first match March 5 – hitting a four-point move in overtime to defeat Hanover freshman Owen Davis. The Lehman junior fell to Milton’s Logan Bennett, which eliminated him from state contention, but he turned around to score a 6-3 victory over Central Columbia’s Evan Campbell in the fifth-place match.
“It was good for our team,” Konigus said. “For Long, it was good to experience this as a freshman for the first time. He showed a lot of poise and heart. That was big for him to win that fifth-place match. Both him and Lipski ended on a good note. We began training for next year in these matches.”
At 152, junior Jake Tomolonis ran into two quality opponents – both of whom qualified for the state tournament. He lost his opener to Wyalusing’s Denton Porter, 11-3, and was elimination from the regional Saturday morning by Towanda’s Steven Yates.
Seeded No. 2 at 182, senior Tom Williams lost a heart-breaker, 8-6, to Milton’s Gage Heller – who eventually finished third at the weight. In his first round of consolations, he also lost a tough one, downed by Wyoming Area’s Adam Buczynski, 5-3.
Mike Slivinski had a similar road to Williams. He was taken down in overtime against Athens’ Roger Horton, losing the bout 4-2 and also lost a two-point decision to Canton’s Brady Bryington in the consolation quarterfinals.
Kaleb Konigus also had a tough path – losing both of his matches at heavyweight. He was pinned by Line Mountain’s Garrett Kieffer and also lost by fall to Loyalsock’s Crae McCracken in the consolations. Kieffer won the 285-pound title, defeating Hanover Area’s John Sheridan.
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