SAYRE - Coming into Saturday's North Section Tournament, it looked like it would be a four team race to the top.

NTL Small School champion Williamson was at the head but not too far behind were NTL Large School champion Wyalusing, Towanda and Troy.

As the tournament went on, the Black Knights began to separate themselves from the pack, putting eight wrestlers in the finals matches.

While only two came out with titles they did see 12 of their wrestlers place and used that depth to pull out the North Section title with 174 points.

"This is sweet," Towanda coach Bill Sexton said. "I've been fortunate enough that the long time I've been around to have some section championship teams but this is a sweet one. I don't think too many people gave us a chance to win but we put a real good team effort together here."

Having so many in the medals was pleasing sight for the veteran coach.

"That's the epitome of a team title," Sexton remarked.

Troy was second with 155.5, Wyalusing third with 148 and Williamson finished with 145 even though they crowned the most champions with four.

The Warriors were hampered by the fact that they had two wrestlers missing. At 106 Caleb Robbins failed to make wait but the big one was at 113 where Tyrus Hamblin missed the tournament due to illness. Hamblin is a returning state qualifier and was looking to return with aspirations of a state medal.

Towanda credits their win not only to their depth but also the development of their younger wrestlers.

"I think that's a big thing," Sexton said. "We've got 32 kids working everyday in the room. They push each other and they tear into each other out there. I think it really gets us ready for this type of thing. We've had to rely on a lot of our back up kids during the course of this year because of the injuries we've had."

In fact, Towanda still has not put forth their full line-up.

"I still have two letterman who haven't wrestled this year because of injuries," he said. "This is about as

complete as we can be and its really paying off for us. I think we wrestled well all year and we got better as the year went on and this is where you want to be your best."

Their two champions were senior captain Kyle Blascak at 106 and sophomore Dakoatah Manning at 182.

"A big win for Kyle," Sexton remarked. "Its no secret Kyle's been struggling. A lot of pressure on him but he put it together when he needed to."

Manning is coming off an injury riddled freshman year.

"He's was a very talented younger wrestler coming through the younger stages," Sexton explained. "He struggled all last year with a back injury. He was a kid that I thought would be in the line-up and he just couldn't physically get there. This is a big year for him, he's won over 20 matches and to come back and win the section title. We haven't many sophomores win section titles for us."

Wellsboro was fifth with 71 points, Sayre sixth with 43.5, Northeast Bradford seventh with 43 and Athens eighth with 31.

Beginning at 106, Blascak took control of his match with Troy's Hunter Cohick early with a takedown and back points in the first period. He would go on to score five more points in the second, then finish off with a 17-0 technical fall at the final buzzer to claim the title.

"It just feels great," Blascak said. "I've never accomplished this, it feels great."

He used his four years of wrestling know how to help him pull this out against traditionally younger opponents.

"The beginning of the year I wasn't really sure if I was going to make 106 again but getting down here I had some in the beginning," Blascak explained. "But now that I'm used to the weight, with the experience, it really helps."

In the third place bout Sayre's James Lee pinned Athens' Jordan Lantz in 4:22 to advance.

At 113, Troy's Ethan Calkins returned the favor.

The Junior jumped out early with takedown and three back points on Towanda's Jared Lines. He continued to be aggressive, scoring 13 more points in the period to earn an 18-2 technical fall in 2:00.

"It feels great," Calkins said. "Its something I worked for for a long time and its just the first step in the process in what I hope to accomplish this post season."

He was looking to score early and often in the match.

"I went out there looking to rack up a lot of points," Calkins explained.

The Junior was surprised to see Hamblin missing from the brackets but either way he had confidence coming in.

"I was confident that I would take first," Calkins said. "But it gave me a little more confidence."

Sayre got another wrestler through in the third place bout as Gavin McCutcheon scored a 5-0 victory over Wyalusing's Tracey Brown to advance.

The Rams got their first champion at 120.

Freshman Colin Edsell pinned Towanda's Nick Secules in 5:27 for the victory. Edsell started the match with a takedown and took that 2-0 lead all the way to the third period. There he scored a reversal and used that to get the fall.

"It feels like some of the work's paid off," Edsell said about being champion. "Its one of the first steps to the road to Hershey. It kind of makes me have bigger goals for the next three years."

Despite being a freshman Edsell has big goals for this year.

"This is the first step of my major goal Hershey," he explained. "It's kind of an important one, to come out of here with first place to get a good seed at districts."

Williamson's Carl Gorg decisioned Troy's Colin Binford 8-2 in the third place bout to advance.

At 126, Williamson's Logan Everett joined an elite group. With his 19-5 major decision over Wyalusing's Brandon Kelley Everett became a four time section champion.

Everett jumped out early with a 7-1 lead after the first period. He went up 13-3 after the second and scored a total of six takedowns in the bout.

"It's something I've really been working for my whole life," Everett explained. "Sectionals in junior high, back here in Sayre, it would be pretty cool if you could win this six times. It's something that's really been a goal of mine and it's good start to the post season."

He was going for the technical fall but didn't come away too disappointed.

"Overall I felt good," Everett said. "I felt I wrestled pretty well. A couple small things I need to improve on but that's why you've got another week to get ready."

Towanda's Terrick Vargason edged Wellsboro's Nate Ingerick 5-2 to take third place.

The Warriors got another champion at 132 as Trevor McWhorter pinned Wyalusing's Justin Haley in 3:41.

"It feels good to be back and get first," McWhorter said. "It feels good to get back on top."

McWhorter scored a takedown in the first period then scored a reversal in the second, which he used to get the fall.

"It really put the exclamation point on everything," he said about the fall.

McWhorter believes that because Williamson has strong wrestlers at the lower to mid weights it helps them improve as the season goes on.

"We all help each other get better," he said. "I think that's what makes us the best at the lower weights."

In the third place match Sayre's Lucas Murphy used a late takedown to beat Towanda's Steven Yates 4-3 to advance.

Troy got their second champion at 138 as Nick Bruce kept Wyalusing's Dave Brown scoreless with a 6-0 decision for the title.

Bruce took an early 2-0 lead off a takedown but the second period was scoreless. Brown was called for a stall early in the third to make a 3-0 deficit, followed by Bruce escaping. The Junior then scored a late takedown to seal the win.

Bruce wasn't only wrestling his opponent but working to do something his brother Zack couldn't quite get.

"I came out knowing I could do something my brother wasn't ever able to do," he said. "It feels good to do something he couldn't do."

Bruce was looking to get up quick.

"I like to get up," he explained. "I like the nice tight matches because its not really nerve racking. It's good to build up the lead but start out small."

Bruce will face some of the stiffest competition in the state next week, though, especially with Benton's Zain Rethorford.

"I'm going to run in maybe 1-2 in the state," he said. "And definitely number one in the country."

At 145, Williamson's Billy Barnes remained undefeated as he scored a 12-3 major decision over Wellsboro's Brandon Owlett to take the title.

"It's pretty awesome," Barnes said. "You work hard all season for this, its what it all comes down to I guess."

The key for Barnes is keeping his focus.

"Keep your mind set right and go after every kid whether he's good or bad," he said about his key to success. "Just go out with the same mentality every match."

Barnes jumped out to a 7-1 lead and never looked back.

However, if one consolation final overshadowed the actual final it was at 145.

Northeast Bradford's Austin Saxer and Troy's Trey Murray stole the crowd with their activity. Murray looked to run away with in the second period, jumping out to a 9-2 lead but early in the third Saxer scored five straight points to cut it to 9-7.

Murray was able to stay off his back the rest of the way and pull out third place.

At 152, Troy's Nick Stephani was able to keep Towanda's Dayton Wickwire scoreless until the very end in his 6-1 decision to take the final.

"It feels pretty good," Stephani said.

In their first match Stephani needed a takedown for Troy to have a chance to win the dual meet. This time around Stephani came it at differently.

"Just small points here and there," he said. "I felt I rode pretty good on top this time."

Stephani scored four points early off a takedown and back points. After a scoreless second period Stephani added a takedown in the third to secure it before Wickwire scored late off an escape.

In the third place bout, Wyalusing's Tyler Fenton edged out Athens' Cody Cain 3-1 to advance.

At 160 pounds, the match may not have been very high scoring but it was never the less intense.

After a scoreless first period Sayre's Kyle Post was able to ride out Towanda's Justin Hunsinger in the second to keep it 0-0 going into the third.

Hunsinger decided to start neutral giving Post a 1-0 lead. Post was able to hold off Hunsinger's offense and pulled out a 1-0 decision to take the title.

"It feels awesome," exclaimed Post after the match.

Hunsinger won in their first meeting on a reversal so Post was focusing on not playing to the Knight's strengths.

"I've got to keep moving and I've got hold him down," Post said about his strategy. "Last time he beat me with a reversal and that was the whole momentum of the match. This time I held him down and it worked."

This is Sayre's first North champion since Richie Villanti.

In the third place bout, Williamson's Mike Presto decisioned Northeast Bradford's Brandon Devonshire 5-2 to advance.

At 170, pounds Williamson picked up their fourth champion. RC Hunter scored a 9-1 major decision over Troy's Landis Zimmerman to take the title.

"From last year only placing third it absolutely amazing," Hunter said. "It feels like all my hard works paying off."

Right off the bat it looked like Hunter would score a takedown but the referee called them out of bounds.

"I thought it was pretty fair," Hunter said about the call. "I knew I took him down but he came right back up first thing."

The first period ended scoreless but in the second Hunter used his position on top to tilt Zimmerman to the tune of six back points.

With a 6-1 lead in the third Hunter added three more back points in the final period to secure the win.

"After I figured I was able to start tilting him, whenever I could I would work his elbow back in there and throw him," Hunter said.

Towanda's Cole Sexton pinned Northeast Bradford's Mike Buttavacoli in 4:30 to take the bronze.

The 182 pound final proved to be another heart stopper.

Manning used a first period takedown to go up 2-0 but Troy's Cody Ercolino scored an escape to cut it to 2-1. Manning took a 3-1 lead early in the second with an escape but Ercolino tied it up with a takedown. Manning got the lead back late with an escape.

Down 4-3 Ercolino tied it up again early in the third with an escape but with 1:30 to go in the period Manning scored the deciding takedown.

Ercolino added an escape right after and pressed for the takedown but Manning fended him off and earned the title.

"It feels, knowing I could bring pride to my town and knowing I'm in the same boat as my senior captain, it feels pretty good," Manning remarked.

It was a difficult match for the sophomore.

"Was focus was to work my shots but I wasn't really working them too well," he explained. "So it was more or less holding the lead and working still."

At the end Manning felt he had one more takedown left in him.

"I just kept working on my feet," he explained. "I was trying to work my throw in there but I just couldn't get it. He knew it was coming because I threw his teammate earlier this year, so he knew he was coming with that so I didn't try and hit it."

In the third place bout Wyalusing's Justin Griffith pinned Williamson's Mark Brennan in 3:18 to take third.

At 195 pounds Wyalusing's Chad Daugherty hit a career milestone, earning his 100th career win with an 11-1 major decision over Towanda's Logan Terry.

"It feels really good," Daugherty said about being a back to back sectional champion. "I knew I have to stay focus. Even though I wrestled all the kids all year long I knew I just had to stay focused and not take anyone for granted."

Getting the mileston was a load off the senior's mind.

"It feels really good," he said. "I've been counting down all season long. I knew I had to get 26 wins this year and I've been counting it close on my matches."

Going to districts Daugherty will see plenty of familiar faces.

"Last year I felt I was really distracted and wasn't wrestling my hardest," he explained. "I wrestled the same competition at this weight last year and I just need to go match by match and hope for the best."

Daugherty led 2-0 after the first period, then made it 8-0 after two to secure the victory.

In the third place bout Troy's Briar Jenkins pinned Williamson's John Nevius in 2:39 to advance.

The 220 final lasted less than a minute as Wyalusing's Dylan Otis pinned Wellsboro's Eli Kennedy in 55 seconds to secure the title.

"It's a great feeling," Otis said about pinning his way to a title. "To work that hard and knowing you can do that, its just an awesome feeling. When you pin a kid in the finals its a rush."

Otis will be working hard next week.

"Just working on my feet mostly," he explained. "I've got to keep working on my top and bottom and breaking kids down. Get a good leg attack down and work hard."

In the third place bout Northeast Bradford fans were able to find something to cheer about. After several close calls through out the night Richard Forbes used a late takedown to get Williamson's Dakota Bolt on his back. Forbes then pinned him in 3:52 to advance for the Panthers.

The 285 pound match was a rematch of two wrestlers who, the last time they met, went into overtime.

After a scoreless first period Towanda's Talon Curry struck first with an escape in the second period.

Wyalusing's Dalton Chilson rallied in the third, though, scoring a reversal early. Curry would escape but Chilson got back to back takedowns to secure a 6-4 decision.

"As a freshman I think its a great achievement," Chilson said. "Some people thought the Towanda kid, Curry, would come out on top and I just wanted to prove them wrong."

Chilson knew it wasn't going to be easy.

"I just had to try as hard as I could and do what I did," he explained.

Once he got that second takedown in the third period he knew he had it won.

"It felt great," Chilson said. "Some wrestlers can't do that, especially at heavyweight its a great privilege."

In the third place bout, Troy's Dylan Brennan pinned Williamson's Darryl Hoffman in 4:56 to advance.

The top three from each weight advance to the District IV finals which will be held next Friday and Saturday at Williamsport High School.