Good battled through tough bracket in districts

The mask on Christian Good’s face hid the swelling and bruising on his face from a practice headbutt he took. It also hid his opponent from him.

The Muncy sophomore wasn’t exactly pleased to wear a facemask during last weekend’s District 4 Class AA tournament at Williamsport, but he knew he had to. His chin had turned some pretty shades of purple and was still swollen when the tournament started, and he couldn’t expose that to an opponent.

Despite the hardships wrestling with a mask presents, Good powered through. He finished fourth at the district tournament to qualify for this week’s Class AA Northeast Regional tournament. He’s hoping the mask doesn’t come with him.

“I’m just glad God gave me the strength to come through and keep me healthy,” Good said. “That’s what’s important.”

Good’s spot in the regional tournament was anything but a given. A quarterfinals matchup at districts with defending state champ Jaret Lane meant he was going to have to scratch and claw his way through the 120-pound consolation bracket. And he wasn’t going to be able to coast through the bracket.

First was a matchup with Montgomery’s Terez Sewell, a quick and athletic wrestler who had previously given Good a battle. Good won, 5-3.

Then was a consolation quarterfinal tilt with Central Section runner-up Isaac Kester of central Columbia, a wrestler he lost to in early January, 9-3. Good won that bout, 9-3.

Then there was a consolation semifinal against Midd-West 25-win wrestler Ethan Zevan, who a night earlier had upset No. 3 seed Logan Newton of Wyalusing. Good controlled every aspect and won, 7-0.

At that point, his spot at regionals was secured. Even though he lost the third-place match to Lewisburg’s Justin Gessner, 4-2, Good had made a statement in his journey through the consolation bracket. He can’t be counted out this weekend at regionals. And it’s going to take a heck of an effort to beat the sophomore, whether he’s wearing a facemask or not.

“I still need to definitely work hard this week in practice because I’m going to have a couple close matches I’m going to have to win,” Good said. “But I have to get in that top four and hopefully get to Hershey.”

This kind of postseason run for Good became a possibility in February when he stepped into a key role for Muncy in its run to a fourth-place finish at the PIAA Team Wrestling Championships. He was getting some of the best wrestlers in the state thrown in his face, and not once did he flinch. Not once did he back down.

His biggest loss in the tournament was a 9-3 decision to Chestnut Ridge’s unranked Gryphon Callihan. He went 2-4 in Muncy’s six state tournament matches, with three of those four losses coming to state-ranked wrestlers, and none of them coming by more than three points.

It was a major stepping stone for Good, one coach Denny Harer cited as a reason Good was going to a force to be reckoned with when the postseason began. Harer has been proven right. Good was third at sectionals, fourth at districts and is wrestling with a confidence which has only seemed to grow since the state team tournament.

“I learned I can stick with some of the top competitors in the state,” Good said of team states. “I just need to wrestle hard and believe I can do it.”

While he was excited by the way he wrestled in Hershey in early February, he knew there was going to come a time where he had to find a way to win those tight matches. He’s certainly doing that now. His third-place match at sectionals was won, 8-4, over Sewell. He had the three decision victories at districts to reach the third-place match.

And he’s done it with the most cliché of approaches, which is focusing on one match at a time. Knowing he’s walking the fine line between being just a regional qualifier and a potential state qualifier, he can’t afford to look ahead any further than that.

“At this point, you can’t take anybody lightly at all,” Good said. “If you get into the losers’ bracket you have to go one match at a time and not look ahead or you end up getting beat.”

As for that mask, if Good has it his way, he won’t have to worry about it this week. He expects that the area around his chin won’t be as swollen and colorful, so he can ditch it.

And that’s just fine, because at times, especially in the third-place match, it got to be really difficult to see when the mask would move in close quarters. The headbutts and physicality, though, it’s not a deterrent to Good. He understands it’s the nature of the sport and he’s embraced. It’s how he’s been able to take this next step in his progression.

“Wrestling is a tough sport,” Good said. “You’ll get beat up and bruised up. But you have to keep going or else you’re not going to ever be successful.”