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Three Barons place at Manheim Holiday Tourney
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Kyler West didn’t feel like his third-period shot against Cumberland Valley’s Sam Horning was a very good one.
He made it work, however.
The Manheim Central sophomore turned that single-leg shot into a takedown with just 38 seconds remaining and defeated Horning 3-1 to clinch the fifth-place medal in the 106-pound weight class last Thursday at the 42nd annual Manheim Lions Holiday Tournament.
West was one of three place-finishers for the Barons, who went a fourth straight year without a finalist and finished 14th out of 15 teams with 49 points.
Joining West atop the medal podium were sophomore Ben Metzler, who took home a fourth-place finish at 126, and senior Ben Wise, who was fifth in the 160-pound weight.
Manheim Central got a tough break when sophomore heavyweight Aaron Lefever had to withdraw due to medical reasons. But the Barons were encouraged with having two other sophomores — West and Metzler — advance to the semi-finals.
"I would’ve liked to have seen how (Aaron) would’ve done here in his first Manheim Tournament and it’s tough for the seniors going out and not placing," Manheim Central coach Troy Sunderland said. "But having some younger kids in there in the semis … that’s encouraging. We’re getting there."
West had a first-round bye and then pulled off a hard-fought 5-3 victory over Horning in the quarterfinals. Next, the Central sophomore took North Allegheny’s Scott Stossel to double OT in the semi-finals before ultimately suffering a 3-2 defeat. If West could have prevailed over Stossel, the eventual silver medalist, he would have been the Barons’ first Manheim Tournament finalist in Sunderland’s threeyear tenure at Manheim Central.
"With Kyle losing in double overtime, it wasn’t like he was blown out of the water in the semis," Sunderland said. "He easily could be in the finals."
In the consolation semi-finals, West suffered another tough loss, this time losing by a 1-0 score to Fort Le Boeuf’s Tyler Kuzma to get a rematch with Horning in the fourth-fifth place match. There, Horning led 1-0 after two thanks to a second-period escape, but it was West who was pushing the action, as he nearly scored a double-leg takedown at the edge of the mat with less than a minute to go in the middle stanza.
"That’s his style and that’s one of the things we’re working on is to get him a little bit closer, getting his opponent out of position," Sunderland said. "He does it a lot with his fakes and movements rather than using his hands and that’s one of the things we’re working with him to develop and just become more well-rounded in his attacks on his feet."
West got the equalizer in the third when Horning cut him loose, and then with just :38 remaining, he finished off a single-leg takedown to grab a 3-1 advantage.
"I thought (Horning) shouldn’t have left me up because I was working to get up anyway," West said. "But I knew could take him down later. We were tied up and I kinda shot a bad shot, but I got my ankle around him and took him down. The whole match, I really couldn’t get a good feel of where he was, but I had to go for it because there was short time left."
In the final stages of the match, Horning battled to escape, but West managed to ride him out over the last 38 seconds to hold on for the two-point win.
"I thought I could win the match. I felt like I was the better wrestler and eventually I took him down … I think I could have done better (than placing fifth)," said West, perhaps recalling his two one-point losses, "but it’s pretty good for being a sophomore."
Metzler, another sophomore, was pretty good too. In fact, he recorded back-to-back major decisions in his first two matches, defeating Cumberland Valley’s Seamus Coughlin 13-0 in the opening round and Spring Ford’s Jimmy Stong by a 12-3 score in the quarterfinals.
Then Easton’s Peter Stanley knocked Metzler into the consolation brackets with a 7-2 win in the semis, taking a comfortable 5-0 lead through two periods on two takedowns and an escape. Stanley’s final takedown with :30 left in the third period sealed it. A Manheim silver medalist last year, Stanley eventually beat Fort Le Boeuf’s Brandon Puckly 5-2 in the finals for the gold.
Metzler, meanwhile, rebounded with a strong effort against Cathedral Prep’s Alex Root in the consi semis, and his fall in 4:00 sent him to the bronze-medal match.
"Overall, I thought Ben wrestled pretty well," Sunderland said. "He was pretty dominant in the matches he won in the top position. We’ve still got to work on getting out from the bottom and taking the intensity level up a little bit. But he’s improving and getting better. He wrestled against a pretty tough kid in the semis who dominated the match, but yet he was in there scrapping with him."
Garnet Valley’s Kyle Loeb proved to be another pretty tough kid in the third-place match. And late in the first period, Loeb caught Metzler and put his shoulders to the mat for a 59-second fall. Actually, there were only a couple tenths of a second remaining in the stanza when Loeb ended it.
"It’s a tough situation – (Ben) was in a scramble situation there for 15, 20 seconds and then his opponent gained the advantage and, boom, right to his back," Sunderland said. "It was a nice move on (Loeb’s) part. I don’t know if Ben relaxed a little bit or if he was just out of position and got caught off balance. But he was flat. I was looking up at the clock at the same time his shoulders were down and it was close, but … there was still time. I would have liked to see the match go on, obviously."
In the 160-pound weight class, Wise battled on after dropping a 12-7 decision in the quarterfinals to Cathedral Prep’s Garrett Chas, a District fourth-place finisher last year. The Barons’ senior won his first two consolation bouts, including a 14-0 whitewashing of Shikellamy’s Josh Derr and an 8-4 decision over Council Rock North’s Eddie Mauceri. Next, he and Fort Le Boeuf’s Taylor Fox locked up in a tightly-contested match in the consi semis, but Fox came away with a 4-2 victory in triple overtime.
"(Ben’s) lost some close matches before and he’s always come back with a fresh mindset and focused on getting better," Sunderland said.
This time was no different. Following a scoreless first period against Reynold’s Matt Tofani, Wise went in front 1-0 on an escape with 1:31 left in the middle stanza.
"You just have to put the last match behind you and move on to the next one and focus on that one," Wise said. "I don’t try to dwell on the past. I just try to keep going forward."
Tofani pulled even with an escape with :19 elapsed in the third, and then he nearly took the lead when he took a single-leg shot and turned it into a cradle. But Wise fought off that threat at the edge of the mat with :40 remaining to keep it tied 1-1.
"It looked like Ben could either hold his ground and stay up, or he could go down," Sunderland said. "And he was able to persevere that and stay on his feet … That was a situation where it could have gone either way."
Added Wise: "I wasn’t really panicking. I knew what I had to do. He had me kinda caught in a cradle, but I managed to get out of it."
Finally, with just :11 left in the third, Wise countered a shot attempt from Tofani, slipped behind him and secured the go-ahead takedown to make it 3-1.
"It was tie, so I wasn’t trying to anything stupid," Wise said. "I was just wrestling smart and (Tofani) got a shot and I just did good defense and managed to get behind him. The way he was wrestling, I could tell he wanting to get in on my legs, so I kinda knew it was coming and I could read it."
Tofani picked up an escape with :02 remaining to close the gap to 3-2, but he could get no closer and Wise held on to capture fifth place.
"(Taking fifth) was nice because it was in front of the home crowd and fifth place in this tournament is real good because it’s a tough tournament," Wise said.
"It was a real similar match to the last time – down to the wire," Sunderland added. "But (Ben) Has a lot of heart and he has great conditioning. He’s one of the hardest workers in the (wrestling) room and weight room, so I’m happy that he was able to come out with the win." More HOLIDAY TOURNEY, page B-6