TOWANDA Towanda's Jeremy Sheets has wrestled off for every spot he can think of in the Black Knights' lineup, but hasn't secured a starting spot until the last week. Wednesday night he won his first varsity match of the season, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
Aided by two stalling calls in the final 20 seconds of his 195-pound bout, Sheets pulled the upset against Montoursville's Lucas Shaheen to lead Towanda to a 32-27 win over Montoursville in the first round of the District 4 Duals tournament. The Warriors won three bouts in overtime, but just two of their seven wins earned bonus points as Towanda avenged a Jan. 5 loss to Montoursville.
"This was a match we didn't deserve to win the way we wrestled," Montoursville head coach Jamie Yonkin said. "This was probably hands down the worst match we wrestled all year. That wasn't the kids we were used to seeing. It's frustrating. (Towanda) just wanted it a little more than we did."
Montoursville was in a 12-0 hole to start because of forfeits at 113 and 120 pounds, but then Towanda reversed losses from the first contest into wins at 195 and 285 pounds which set the stage for their revenge win.
Sheets' match Wednesday night against Shaheen was just his second varsity match of the season. The junior is 17-0 this year on the junior varsity level, but had yet to win a varsity bout prior to last night. His only other varsity bout ended with a fall to Wyalusing regional fourth-place finisher Dylan Otis on Saturday.
When he prepared to take the mat Wednesday night against Shaheen, Towanda was leading 20-18 and Black Knights head coach Bill Sexton emphasized to Sheets that no matter who won the bout, they couldn't win by more than a decision. Sheets did his part in keeping the bout close with Shaheen holding a 2-1 lead after two periods.
Sheets started the third period in the bottom position and never escaped until there was only 5 seconds left in a desperation move by Shaheen. But Sheets had pushed the pace on the bottom enough over the final 20 seconds that he forced a stalling point with 19 seconds left to tie the bout, and another with 10 seconds left to go ahead. Sheets eventually won, 4-2.
"He's eliminated with (Dakota) Manning, he's eliminated with (Talon) Curry, he's eliminated with (Logan) Terry. They've all been close because he hasn't been able to get over the hump," Sexton said. "The kid knows how to wrestle. Tonight he went out and just gave us six good minutes."
The wins by Sheets and Talon Curry at 285 were the big reversals in decisions Sexton told his team he had to have prior to the match. Curry had been pinned by Montoursville freshman Ben Cerney in their first meeting.
They were reversals in decisions that were enough to offset all the tremendous work Montoursville had done in winning five of the first 10 contested bouts by decision. Three of those five wins were in overtime, including tie-breaker wins for Tristan Choate at 160 pounds and Ethan Jones at 182 pounds. Conner Bassett's win at 220 pounds was on a takedown in overtime against a wrestler he had pinned in the first meeting.
Choate's win came after Montoursville had fallen behind 20-6, and it was a reversal of decision from the first meeting when he was beaten by a point by Towanda's Justin Hunsinger. Choate took a two-point lead in the first tie-breaker period when he sat out and scooted for a good 20 seconds before getting behind Hunsinger with 1 second left for a reversal. He held on for a 4-3 win.
"That was definitely a big swing in our direction and a bonus for us," Yonkin said.
"I felt like Keith (Batkowski's) win should have really set us off and got us rolling," Choate said. "But we kind of put our heads down for a little bit. I feel like my win did set the tempo for us more."
Choate's win sparked a run of three consecutive wins and four in five bouts that brought Montoursville to within 23-21 after Bassett's overtime decision at 220. But knowing they were going to close the match with a forfeit at either 106 or 113 pounds, Cerney had to win at 285 to give the Warriors a chance.
Curry's win secured the victory for Towanda who advances to face top-seeded Central Columbia on Saturday at Milton in the District 4 quarterfinals. Central Columbia was a 67-3 winner over Sullivan County last night.
"Talon has really been coming on," Sexton said. "He lost in overtime to (Wyalusing freshman Dalton Chilson), but he gave us everything we needed tonight, and he had to win."
"We were just flat all around," Yonkin said of his team. "They seemed ready to go. It seemed like another match, but they were flat and Towanda was aggressive and the final score was the way it is."
The loss essentially ended a brilliant dual-meet season by a Montoursville team which started six freshmen all season. The Warriors still have on dual meet remaining against Danville next week, but the loss last night essentially ended the team portion of the season.
Yonkin said it was tough to be disappointed with what his team accomplished by winning 13 dual-meets this year, but as the season went on he started to expect more from his team and that's why there was frustration at last night's final score.
"As a coach, you always want more," Yonkin said. "Once you see these kids start to progress, this is what our goal was, but now we exceeded that and now we can do this. Looking back on it, by the time we calm down and the emotions are done and we look back at the season, I think we'll be happy with the season we had. For the team we've had, I think we did pretty well."
"I think it's a really big learning experience," Choate said. "We have a lot of phenomenal freshmen on this team, and for them to get this kind of experience even with just an extra match in the district duals is a big thing."
106: Jacob Strassner, M, pinned Kyle Blascak, 5:20. 113: Jared Lines, T, won by forfeit. 120: Clay Mosier, T, won by forfeit. 126: Keith Batkowski, M, dec. Nick Secules, 7-1. 132: Steven Yates, T, pinned Jeff McKeag, 5:16. 138: Matt Bartholomew, T, dec. Jacob Stanford, 6-3. 145: Garrett Hoffman, M, dec. Justin Sheets, 3-1. 152: Dayton Wickwire, T, tech. fall Michael Forney, 20-3, 5:22. 160: Tristan Choate, M, dec. Justin Hunsinger, 4-3, tb. 170: Garrett Evans, M, pinned Cole Sexton, 3:28. 182: Ethan Jones, M, dec. Dakota Manning, 4-2, tb. 195: Jeremy Sheets, T, dec. Lucas Shaheen, 4-2. 220: Conner Bassett, M, dec. Logan Terry, 6-4, sv. 285: Talon Curry, T, dec. Ben Cerney, 8-3.
*Match started at 120 pounds
Takedowns: Towanda 14, Montoursville 10.
Official: Dave Kreider.
Records: Towanda (16-8); Montoursville (13-8).