Freshman Brown helps Rams win NTL large-school title
All season long Wyalusing has been in close NTL matches.
And, all season long there has been pressure on the Rams younger wrestlers to come up with big performances.
So, it was only fitting that Saturday's match with Towanda would come down to freshman Tracey Brown.
The Rams held a 34-30 victory and Brown was facing one of Towanda's captains, Kyle Blascak, with the NTL large-school title hanging in the balance.
Brown hoped it would be a good match, he never imagined it would end with him being lifted in the air by his teammates after a pin at 4:38 gave Wyalusing a 40-30 victory.
"I thought it would be a really good match, I didn't think I was going to pin him," Brown said. "I was just trying to get as many points as I could and trying to wrestle hard. I wasn't trying for the pin."
It was Blascak who came out early looking for the pin.
The Towanda senior came out aggressive at the start and Brown knew he had to withstand the opening barrage from Blascak.
"Some of the guys were saying he came with a little swing and I was just trying to avoid him as much as I can," Brown said.
Wyalusing coach Gary Haley knew that first period was the key to the match.
"We knew Kyle was going to come after him in that first minute and it was important to not be intimidated," Haley said. "He did a good job."
Haley was proud of the way his freshman wrestled, and has been impressed with the work of his younger wrestlers all year long.
"He (Brown) really stepped up," Haley said. "He's only a freshman going against a kid like Blascak, I couldn't be more proud of him. A lot of our freshman have done a lot of wrestling. All those matches in elementary and junior high were to prepare them for this level."
As excited as Brown was getting on the mat, his teammates were just as excited watching his match.
"It was great to see Tracey step up like he did," Brandon Kelley said. "We were just encouraging him to keep moving his feet, keep working."
For Brown and his teammates there were some nervous moments.
"I was pretty nervous when I started," Brown said.
"That was really nerve wracking," Tyler Fenton said of watching the match.
"My heart was beating like crazy," Kelley said.
But those nerves quickly turned to excitement as the match got going.
For about 10 seconds Brown had Blascak on his back, just working toward the fall and he sense something special was about to happen.
"I was getting really excited," Brown said. "I thought I had him earlier, but it was just really exciting when it happened."
The Wyalusing bench knew things were going in their favor with the way Brown started the match.
"Once he had the first back points, I knew we had it," Fenton said.
"I thought even if he did lose, it would only be a decision and we'd win, but then he went out and wrestled the way he did."
As one match after another ended Brown started to know it was going to come down to him.
"I kept looking at the scoreboard and I knew it was going to come down to me," he said.
At the start on Saturday the match was going in Wyalusing's favor as they jumped out to a quick 16-0 advantage.
Colin Edsell started things out at 120 with a 6-0 victory over Nick Secules and Kelley needed just 17 seconds in his match against Nick Sutton at 126 to get the pin.
"I knew we could get some wins in the early matches, but I knew we needed the points and we needed a pin," Kelley said. "The coaches told us matches where we needed to get a pin."
At 132 Justin Haley won a 9-1 major decison over Steven Yates to make it 13-0 and at 138 David Brown came away with a 2-1 victory over Matt Bartholomew to make it 16-0.
Towanda got on the board at 145. Justin Sheets led Ryan Force throughout the match, but it looked like Towanda was going to get four points, until Sheets got the pin with just 4.8 seconds left in the match to cut the deficit to 16-6.
At 152 Wyalusing's Tyler Fenton and Towanda's Dayton Wickwire were locked in a 2-2 match into the final seconds, when Fenton got an escape with four seconds left to get the 3-2 victory.
"I knew I had to get out of there," Fenton said of the escape. "I knew after my last match, I really needed to step up."
Facing the possibility of overtime, Fenton knew it was important to get the escape in regulation.
"I knew it was easier to get out of there, then to start over," Fenton said.
At 160 Towanda's Justin Hunsinger got a pin of Jake Minturn in 3:47 to cut the deficit to 19-12 and at 170 Wyalusing's Justin Griffith got the pin of Cole Sexton at 5:36 to make it 25-12 Wyalusing.
Towanda's Dakoatah Manning got a forfeit at 182, before the Black Knights' Logan Terry pinned Zane Vaskas at 195 in 5:01 to make it 25-24 Wyalusing.
At 220 Dylan Otis got a pin of Jeremy Sheets in 5:01 and at 285 Dalton Chilson won a 3-1 match over Talon Curry in overtime for the Rams to make it 34-24.
"All the kids, even the kids who lost, they all fought until the very end," Haley said. "Dylan had to work very hard for that and Dalton had to work hard and win in overtime. Everyone fought until the very end."
While Curry lost his match, Towanda coach Bill Sexton was happy with the way he wrestled.
"That may have been one of the best matches that Talon has wrestled all year," Sexton said. "He gives up a lot of weight there and it was just a good effort on his part."
Sexton was happy with the way everyone on his team wrestled.
"Our kids wrestled well tonight, their kids wrestled well," Sexton said. "It's a tough one to lose but the kids went hard and they wrestled hard to."
At 106 Jared Lines got a quick pin in 21 seconds over Jacob Sandfort to set up the match between Brown and Blascak.
"Lines has been doing that a lot this year," Sexton said. "He's having a really fine season."
With the victory the Rams will clinch the NTL large-school title, with one league match against Northeast Bradford remaining, the worst they can do is tie Towanda atop the standings.
"We came into this year and we knew we had to replace a lot of experience from last year," Haley said. "I thought we would be in the hunt for the NTL championship and they worked hard and it paid off."
For the Wyalusing wrestlers it's a nice feeling to be large-school champions.
"It's my senior year and it feels great," Kelley said. "Last year we won the NTL and this year we get the large-school and it feels good."
The match on Saturday was wrestled in front of a packed gym with people standing because every seat was filled.
"It's always going to be a great atmosphere for Towanda and Wyalusing," Sexton said. "We are here, wrestling for a large-school title, but we both could have no wins and someone was going to leave here happy. It's always a great atmosphere."
Both teams will host District Duals matches on Wednesday.
Towanda wasn't expecting to host a match, but with Williamson choosing not to wrestle in the district duals due to illness and injuries, the Black Knights get an extra match at home.
"I'm kind of surprised to some extend, but Williamson decided to do what was best for their team," Sexton said. "It's a good thing for us, it gives us a district duals match at home."
Towanda is expected to host Montoursville on Wednesday, while Wyalusing is expected to host Hughesville.