DANVILLE - Brady Bryington didn't panic when he was tripped to his back early in the first period of his 285-pound bout Monday night. He was nervous, sure, but he didn't panic.
Canton's sophomore heavyweight, in the decisive bout of last night's District 4 Class AA Duals pigtail match, worked off his back. Then he worked for a reversal. Then he worked for a fall.
The sub-.500 wrestler a year ago turned in maybe the biggest win of his career, his 21st of the season, when he pinned Danville's Zach Campbell in the final bout of the night to give 17th-seeded Canton a 40-33 win over 16th-seeded Danville. Canton advances to wrestle top-seeded Towanda on Wednesday night at Towanda in the first round of the District 4 Duals. Canton lost to Towanda, 59-18, a week ago.
"Maybe he didn't panic, but I started to," Canton head coach Lyle Wesneski said. "Last year in that situation he would have rolled over and packed it in. Mentally he just wasn't ready (last year). I coached him on the offensive line in football and I could start to see the change him. He matured a little bit. He got a little confidence in himself. He grew about six inches taller, he thinned out a bit and he's athletic."
Bryington's win capped a run of four wins in the final five bouts of the night allowing the Warriors to erase an 11-point Danville lead. Regional qualifier Connor Route earned a crucial third-period fall at 195 pounds, state eighth-place finisher Garrett Wesneski scored a fall with 3 seconds left in the first period at 220, and Bryington was able to fight off his back for a fall at 285. The 34-33 lead for Canton after Wesneski's fall gave Canton its first lead since the third bout of the night when it had a 12-6 lead.
"We lost a couple that I didn't think we should have, but (Danville) came out and they scrapped. They're a scrappy bunch," Wesneski said. "It was a good team win. We had to come back at the end and it's nice to have you big guys waiting there."
District 4 Duals
Class AA FIRST?ROUND
Wednesday at 7
No. 17 Canton at No. 1 Towanda
No. 15 Mifflinburg at No. 2 Southern
No. 14 Muncy at No. 3 Wyalusing
No. 13 Montgomery at No. 4 Lewisburg
No. 12 North Penn at No. 5 Warrior Run
No. 11 Benton at No. 6 Hughesville
No. 10 Williamson at No. 7 Montoursville
No. 9 Line Mountain at No. 8 Troy
Quarters, semis, finals Saturday at Milton
Saturday at Milton
No. 1 Jersey Shore vs. No. 2 Shikellamy, 6
The Warriors have been in playoff mode for the better part of two weeks, though. Coming off a 1-4 performance at the Jersey Shore Duals, the Warriors lost two consecutive bouts against Wyalusing and Towanda to put its record at 11-11 with one match left prior to the District 4 Duals qualifying cutoff date. The matches against Wyalusing and Towanda also had Northern Tier League title implications.
But the Warriors won a 36-31 decision over rival Troy on Thursday to qualify for the duals a year after a loss to Williamson in its final match before the duals cutoff kept the Warriors out of the tournament. So last night's tight match against Danville was nothing this team hadn't experienced.
The win over Danville (12-11) was the 10th this year for the Warriors (13-11) by fewer than 10 points. Canton has also won six matches this year by five points or less.
So although Wesneski knew he had his aces in the hole at the end of the match, there was still a little concern when Danville won toss-up bouts by fall at 126 and 152 pounds, and lost another by decision at 160 pounds giving the Ironmen a 27-18 lead.
Canton is still without junior Tyler Cole at 182 pounds because of a knee injury which should sideline him until sectionals. The only saving grace for Wesneski and Canton was having won the coin toss prior to the match. It allowed the Warriors to dictate the matchups at 170 and 195 pounds, maybe the two most crucial bouts of the night, especially considering Danville's wins in earlier toss-up bouts.
It allowed Canton to move junior John Bowman (13-3), who joined the team just following the Christmas break, away from Danville 170-pounder David Burke (22-1). Bowman earned a major decision at 170 pounds and Burke bumped up to 182 where he got a fall, giving the Ironmen a 33-22 lead with three bouts left.
"John, in a regular dual, would have wrestled Burke," Wesneski said. "(Monday night) we just couldn't afford to do that with not having Tyler in the lineup. We needed to get the matchups we needed because I knew it would come down to the wire."
The flip also allowed Wesneski to match up Route with Danville's Sam Crone. Crone, who missed last year after having back surgery but is 14-7 this year, put up a good fight with Route. He was trailing just 6-3 before Route caught him on his back and got the fall in 5:18.
Garrett Wesneski, ranked second in the state at 195, bumped up to 220 and was leading 5-0 when he pinned Gunnar Feldmann in a tilt with 3 seconds left in the first period. It set the stage for Bryington's heroics.
"I think this gives us more confidence now going to Towanda to wrestle," Bryington said. "Towanda beat us a couple weeks ago and they're almost undefeated, but we have nothing to lose. We need to get a good day of practice in (today) and then go up there and see what happens."
"All season long we've been in playoff mode. They're comfortable," Wesneski said. "I told them, we're the last seed, we don't have any pressure on us at all. We're going to a hostile environment on Wednesday night against one of your biggest rivals and we don't have a darn thing to lose. I'll guarantee you we're going to show up Wednesday ready to go."
106: Dennis Route, C, pinned Kevin Smeltzer, 2:43. 113: Ethan Landis, C, pinned Dalton Stump, :54. 120: Jake Danneker, D, won by forfeit. 126: Alex Carter, D, pinned Brett Wesneski, 3:34. 132: Ryan Messa, D, won by forfeit. 138: Brendan Cohick, C, dec. P.J. Bellino, 5-3. 145: Travis Butcher, C, dec. Addison Zakarian, 8-2. 152: Jay Brennan, D, pinned Bryce Cole, 3:52. 160: Dalton Semiclose, D, dec. Spencer Castle, 4-2. 170: John Bowman, C, maj. dec. Jarrett Walters, 11-0. 182: David Burke, D, pinned Richard Heffner, 3:24. 195: Connor Route, C, pinned Sam Crone, 5:18. 220: Garrett Wesneski, C, pinned Gunnar Feldmann, 1:57. 285: Brady Bryington, C, pinned Zach Campbell, 1:17.
Takedowns: Canton 11, Danville 7. Official: Jeff Weatherite. Records: Canton (13-11); Danville (12-11).