MILTON Jim Snyder knows it's hard to sell a high school kid on the idea that not getting pinned is as good as a win in some instances. But it's a point he was trying to sell to his team prior to Tuesday night's dual meet at Milton.
Snyder knew Lewisburg was getting as many as 24 free points from Milton for forfeits, and preventing bonus points from being scored would be just as important as scoring bonus points. His wrestlers bought in last night as some wrestlers fought off big moves, and others like Max Reed and Nick Bernstein pulled off wins in toss-up matches as the Green Dragons beat an undermanned Milton team, 45-28, last night.
In the night's marquee and final bout, defending state champion Ryan Solomon of Milton beat returning state fifth-place finisher Brandon Smith, 5-1.
Milton forfeited four weights, including three of the first four and trailed 24-0 before Hunter Snyder won the Black Panthers' first bout, 14-7, at 126 pounds. That was one of the bouts where Snyder was proud of his wrestler for not giving up bonus points.
Lewisburg's Dante Taylor and Milton's Hunter Snyder rolled all over the mat early with the score tied at 7-7 midway through the second period. But Taylor was caught in a five-point move to end the second period and fought off his back in the third period to keep Hunter Snyder's win to a decision.
"I thought it was going to be the first one to 21 there for a while," Jim Snyder said. "The wheels kind of fell off for him there in the middle of the match a bit. Then he has to battle and not get pinned."
Hunter Snyder's decision started a run of five wins in six bouts for the Black Panthers. But Taylor and Steven Gingher made it as difficult as possible for Milton to maximize is points.
Gingher trailed Milton's Taylor Porter, 8-4, in the third period and knew Porter was looking for a big move to score a fall late in the third. Porter finally hit a cement mixer with about 10 seconds to go, but Gingher fought off the big move and forced Porter to settle for a major decision. Ryan Preisch followed with a fall for Milton to cut Lewisburg's lead to 30-25, but it was as close as Milton ever got.
"It's not a great position to be in, but we had some kids step up," Jim Snyder said. "It's a tough situation some of these guys are put in, but we let them know in the locker room before we came out that if you don't get pinned, that's a win for us."
The biggest wins of the night for Lewisburg came at 170 and 182, where Reed and Bernstein each bumped up a weight class to try for the best chance at individual wins. Reed, a sophomore, responded with a brilliant performance on his feet recording three takedowns against stellar Milton freshman Brandon Stokes for a 10-5 win.
Bernstein got himself in some precarious situations against Milton's Gage Heller but always seemed to find a way to come out on top. He caught Heller in the second period to record a fall and all but seal the dual-meet win for Lewisburg.
"Seventy and 82 were the two we needed to win to win the match," Milton head coach Mike Snyder said. "I thought we could do pretty well in the middle and upper weights. I thought we could win eight or nine (bouts) on paper and we won six. But we wrestled well overall. We're throwing some forfeits out there, but we didn't wrestle bad and that's what we're concerned with."
"We know our best bet isn't staying home with Max against Preisch," Jim Snyder said. "We felt better with Max going up and Bernstein going up. We felt it was our only chance to win and those guys came through."
The wins from Reed and Bernstein opened the door for Solomon, who weighed in at 193.5 pounds, to bump up and wrestle Smith, who weighed in at 216.7. It was the fifth time the two have faced each other in the last calendar year, although one was a medical forfeit for Solomon in the District 4 final.
Solomon, despite giving up the weight, was dominant. He recorded a pair of takedowns and was never in trouble of giving up points in the 5-1 victory. He improved to 8-0 in his career against Smith, who is a two-time state qualifier and one-time placewinner. He's given up more than one point to Smith just one time in those seven contested bouts.
"I thought with the weight he was giving away this was Brandon's best shot," Jim Snyder said. "(Solomon) looked every bit as big out there and if anything he was a hair stronger. He's impossible to score on. He's in great position all the time. Nobody's beating him."
"I could feel the weight difference, but I think the tactic was to go out hard-nosed and do the same thing (as in the past)," Solomon said. "Doubles and keep after him and keep that aggressive pace and keep scoring. Brandon's a big, strong kid, definitely. It wasn't a whole lot of muscling him around today, so I think we wanted to work on some quickness and try to out-quick him."
106: Brian Friery, L, won by forfeit. 113: Jordan Gessner, L, pinned Michael Boyd, 2:44. 120: Jeff Steele, L, won by forfeit. 126: Hunter Snyder, M, dec. Dante Taylor, 14-7. 132: Zack Bennett, M, pinned Cyrus Perez, 2:57. 138: Taylor Houtz, M, pinned Andrew Fritchman, 1:53. 145: Logan Aikey, L, pinned James Jones, 1:52. 152: Taylor Porter, M, maj. dec. Steven Gingher, 15-5. 160: Ryan Preisch, M, pinned Aaron Vansickle, 1:11. 170: Max Reed, L, dec. Brandon Stokes, 10-5. 182: Nick Bernstein, L, pinned Gage Heller, 3:44. 195: John Ward, L, won by forfeit. 220: Ryan Solomon, M, dec. Brandon Smith, 5-1. 285: Kyle Santorine, L, won by forfeit.
*Match started at 285 pounds
Takedowns: Milton 15, Lewisburg 8. Official: Mark Dawson.
Records: Lewisburg (1-1); Milton (1-1).