MANDATA — One of Line Mountain coach Chuck Johnson’s concerns entering Monday night’s District 4 Class 2A Team Championship pigtail match-up with Canton did not apply to Eagle senior Chance Hackenburg.
Canton entered the dual as the No. 17 seed at 5-5 and was giving up six forfeits.
“That was our exact conversation in the room after they got warmed up,” Johnson said about the apparent easy victory.
“I told them, ‘The gym’s going to be dead, you will hear a pin drop, the crowd is not going to get you motivated so you figure it out right now,’” Johnson said.
He told them ‘You have to get yourself pumped up if you have a match, it’s you alone out there and you’ve gotta wrestle and you want to be on top of your game.’
Johnson reminded his guys that Canton has some good wrestlers and that they can’t start off the match lackadaisical.
By the time things got to Hackenburg at 160 (the meet started at 120), the Eagles had taken their coach’s message to heart en route to a 63-12 victory. That advances the No. 16 Eagles (10-7) to the Round of 16 at Southern on Wednesday.
But Hackenburg still had a score to settle and he did it in spectacular fashion.
Two weeks ago, in the New Oxford Duals, the Eagles’ 160-pounder was leading Canton’s Christian Ward in the third period when the Warrior pinned him.
Hackenburg erased that bad memory as he took Ward down with an outside shot, locked up a cradle and pinned the Canton senior in 30 seconds for the fall.
Johnson said, “He asked for that rematch. He said ‘I want to make sure I get that same kid again’ and I said ‘absolutely.’ “
Hackenburg said, “My coaches really helped me out a lot this week. I’m really thankful. They were telling me what I did wrong, what I needed to fix. I wanted to really work hard this week and do a better job.”
Hackenburg said he did a move wrong and was getting tired and Ward caught him in a headlock.
He said he didn’t necessarily look to get the early fall because he worked hard all week and believed he was in good shape to get the win.
“I wasn’t too surprised, it was natural, it felt right,” Hackenburg said.
Johnson added, “Chance won’t be wrestling sectionals so his numbers are limited at this point.”
He will wrestle at Southern and at home Thursday versus Selinsgrove.
The Eagles started the way Johnson had hoped with freshman Mason Leshock pinning Miah Lehman in 2:38.
However, Lehman made things interesting. After Leshock hit a quick five-point move, Lehman reversed him and picked up a pair of two-point near-falls for a 6-5 lead after one period. Leshock deferred his choice in the second with Lehman talking bottom and the Eagle turned her for the fall.
“That’s pretty typical. He rolls around a little and gets a little overzealous, and we have to remind him to slow down and stick with good stuff,” Johnson said.
After the following forfeit parade (five in a row) gave Line Mountain a 36-0 lead, Hackenburg and Jacob Feese got back-to-back pins to make it 48-0.
Wyatt Bingaman battled back from an early deficit to edge Derek Atherton-Ely 6-5 at 182 and Cale King made it 54-0 with a 9-4 decision over Conner Route at 195.
The Warriors finally got on the board with a fall in 1:16 by Trevor Williams over Justin Scott at 285 and picked up a forfeit at 285.
Freshman Aidan Kritzer won 7-2 over Isaac Landis at 106 before another Eagle forfeit win closed out the night.
Despite the monumental task ahead against the top-seeded and unbeaten Tigers (the defending state runners-up, Johnson said, “We have a chance for a couple of wins. We are going to go compete and get ourselves ready for sectionals.”
Canton coach Lyle Wesneski said he wanted to get his guys some matches, even thought, they didn’t have the numbers.
“Our junior high finished second down her at the Line Mountain Tournament this past weekend. We have 22 kids on the junior high team and we have 10 or 11 freshmen coming up,” Wesneski said.
“We will have all the kids we had here tonight and Timmy will be back,” he said, referring to standout Timmy Ward, who missed this season battling cancer.
He said Ward would have been at the match, but he was undergoing one of his treatments.
Wesneski said, “We could have opted out (of the Duals), but we decided we should do it. We said ‘let’s go compete and whatever happens, happens.’ Get them another match and we keep moving forward toward the post-season and see how things go from there.”
He added, “Next year we’ll be different. We’re going to have a full lineup. We will still be freshmen but we will put some time in the off-season and get better, get stronger and get a little older.”