Muncy’s Poust focused on his goals

The team focus is still important Hunter Poust and the rest of his Muncy teammates. The Indians could pleased with the second-place finish they earned in this past weekend’s District 4 Class AA tournament.

But Poust admitted Saturday night after winning his first individual district title he can help but focused a little more on himself in the postseason. The senior 220-pounder was a big part of the reason Muncy became the first team in Lycoming County history to medal at the PIAA Team Wrestling Championships earlier this month.

And while the hope was to go through the postseason gathering more team titles, Poust knows he also has to focus on himself.

Saturday he took the next step on that journey by finishing off a 3-0 weekend with the 220-pound District 4 title. He was the only of four Muncy finalists to win a championship Saturday, but he was one of nine Indians to advance to next week’s regional tournament.

“We got the sectional title. But with districts and regionals, we know it’s going to get harder as we go down the road,” Poust said. “So I want to kind of focus more on myself, but the team stuff is still there.”

Poust took a big step in his career a year ago when he qualified for the state tournament for the first time. But the season ended disappointingly, falling one win short of earning a state medal.

He lost in the blood round in Hershey last year to Jersey Shore’s Max Mason, the same wrestler he lost to in the Central Sectional, District 4 and Northeast Region final. It’s the same Max Mason who went on to finish fourth at the state tournament.

Poust is looking to get over that hump in his final year at Muncy. He’s defeated 37 of the 38 opponents he’s faced this year with his only loss coming to AAA third-ranked Dennis Karas of Exeter Township in the 220 final of the King of the Mountain.

After recording three falls this weekend to secure his district title, Poust is on 32 match winning streak with 23 of those wins coming by fall, one by technical fall, two by forfeit and three by decision against state-ranked wrestlers. It’s been the dominant run of a wrestler who is competing with a level of confidence like he’s never had.

Poust is ranked fifth in the state at 220 pounds behind three returning state placewinners and a state qualifier.

“I don’t really care who steps in front of me, my goal is to go out there and dominate the match,” Poust said. “This offseason I put in a good amount of work and focused more on certain areas I was lacking in. I feel so much better on the mat.”

All five of Poust’s wins in the postseason have come by fall. Twice those falls were in less than a minute at the Central Sectional, and he needed no more than 3 minutes, 42 seconds to record his three falls at districts. And that longest match was against returning state qualifier Mike Wilcox of Wyalusing in the semifinals Saturday morning.

It was an eye-opening performance against a returning state qualifier. Poust knew he had the size advantage with Wilcox coming up to 220 after spending most of the season at 195, and he exploited it. And it was the precursor to his fall over Southern Columbia’s Sean Sprague in the final, one of two falls recorded during the finals Saturday night.

And it all led to Muncy having a District 4 champion for the second consecutive year after not having had one since Troy Hembury in 2013.

“We expected to have a lot more champs than we did, but you never want to go home with four guys in the finals and none of them coming out a champion,” Poust said. “I wanted this for my coaches as much as I wanted it for myself.”

CALL THE FIREMAN

Montoursville’s Gavin Hoffman couldn’t help but laugh as he talked about hitting his fireman’s carry for a takedown early in his 195-pound final Saturday night. He said it was probably only the second time in his career he’s hit one in a match.

He never knows when he’s going to get things like that. The No. 1-ranked 195-pounder in the country wrestles with a feel. When something presents itself, he’ll hit it, just like he did with that first-period fireman’s carry against Southern Columbia’s Lear Quinton.

Hoffman’s goal first and foremost is always to win. But he’s in a position which allows him the opportunity to experiment with different things when he’s on the mat. Friday night in the quarterfinals it meant rolling backward three separate times to sink in a deep half-nelson to get the fall in 44 seconds. Saturday it meant scoring enough back points in the semifinals to get a technical fall in just 1:38 against Line Mountain’s Ethan Long. Then in the final, it was the fireman’s carry.

“It’s just instincts,” Hoffman said. “I’m learning to put myself in positions I don’t usually go into and score off of them.”

Hoffman also became Montoursville’s career wins leader Saturday when he won his semifinal. His quarterfinal win tied him for the school record with 167 career wins. With his two wins Saturday, his career total of 169 wins is now two better than the 167 his brother, Garrett, recorded from 2013 to 2016.

“It’s awesome having him here to witness my last district title because he’s a huge role model and I still look up to him,” Hoffman said. “To be able to pass him, it’s bragging rights, but it doesn’t mean that I’m better than him by any means. When I deserve it, he’ll still put a beating on me. At the end of the day, he’s always here supporting me and I just love that he’s here every step of the way.

FINALLY ON TOP

Wyatt Lutz waited four years to finally end up on top of the podium at the District 4 tournament. The Montoursville senior couldn’t wipe the smile off his face after receiving his gold medal.

It’s the first time in his career he’s entered the district tournament as the favorite, and he lived up to that billing. He won by fall and technical fall in his first two bouts before posting a 7-1 win over Southern Columbia freshman Patrick Edmondson in the 113-pound final Saturday night.

“After being so close last year, it feels good,” said Lutz, a West Virginia recruit. “I need to make sure I keep this going for next week and the week after.”

Lutz has enjoyed his role this year as the hunted man in the district. In years past he was always chasing someone. Last year, he was the district and regional runner-up to Southern’s Jaret Lane before finishing third in the state tournament. A year earlier, he lost to Lane in the district semifinal, and as a freshman he fell to Line Mountain’s Collin Klinger in the quarterfinals.

This weekend, though, there was really no threat of a loss. He was in control of every matchup and performed like the person who is ranked second in the state behind Reynolds returning state champion Beau Bayless.

“I always thought being the one being hunted down, I’d be kind of scared,” Lutz said. “But it’s not like that. If I wrestle like that, it’s not going to turn out the way I want. I need to go out there attacking and not be intimidated.”

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