Canton claims at least share of NTL title in wrestling

CANTON – There weren’t many buttons for Lyle Wesneski to push with his lineup Tuesday night against Towanda. Really there was just one.

Instead of sending out state-ranked Garrett Storch at 182 pounds, he moved the senior up a weight class and gave senior Chance Deljanovan an opportunity to make an impact. It was a chance Wesneski warned Deljanovan he would get at practice Monday night.

Deljanovan didn’t disappoint. He made Wesneski’s move work to perfection as he scored a fall at 182 pounds, as did Storch at 195 pounds, and Canton won four of the final five bouts to pull away from Towanda for a 45-27 win.

The win guaranteed the Warriors at least a share of the Northern Tier League title. They can win the title outright for the first time since 2005 with a win over Troy on Thursday night.

“It’s baby steps,” Wesneski said. “A few years ago we were pulling kids off the street, but I said stay the course, trust us, and if you stick around things are going to get better in a year or two. And they did.”

Canton improved to 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the NTL. A win Thursday would also likely guarantee the Warriors the third seed in next week’s District 4 Duals, where they could be as high as the second seed were Line Mountain lose to Halifax on Thursday.

But that will all take care of itself in the coming days. The Warriors have put themselves in position to win a league championship and compete for one of District 4’s three spots in the PIAA Team Wrestling Championships with the work they’ve done to get to this point.

Take Deljanovan for instance. He had wrestled just 10 bouts this season coming into last night’s dual meet, and nine of them came in tournaments over the first two weekends of the season. His only dual-meet appearance was taking a forfeit last week against Athens in a match the Warriors won in the final bout.

So when he took the mat last night at 182 pounds, he went right to work with a ferocity and an energy of a caged lion who had been waiting to pounce. He went feet-to-back with his first takedown and was able score the fall in just 1 minute, 2 seconds. The win gave Canton a 36-24 lead over Towanda, after the dual had been tied just two bouts earlier.

But he put the writing on the wall of how the dual would end with a fall which sent an eruption through the Canton bench.

“He gives us options,” Wesneski said. “He’s been eliminating with (Derek) Atherton-Ely every Monday night and he’ll get beat, 2-1, 5-3, or in overtime. And he just keeps coming back and working and working and working. I told him (Monday) night that you’re getting your shot, so take advantage of it.”

That Deljanovan won was not really a surprise. He’s the same wrestler who finished fourth at 195 pounds at the season-opening Darren Klingerman Invitational, losing to teammate Atherton-Ely in the third-place consolation, 2-1.

Deljanovan just has the misfortune of being stuck at a spot in the Canton lineup which includes three state-ranked wrestlers. And those other three combined with Deljanovan on Tuesday to help the Warriors clinch part of a league title. Eighth-ranked Timmy Ward picked up a fall at 170. Storch got his fall at 195, and 23rd-ranked Atherton-Ely bumped up to 220 and earned a 5-0 victory.

“We made the matchups we wanted,” said Towanda coach Bill Sexton, who earlier this year broke the District 4 record for career coaching wins. “We felt that we wanted the matchup we got at 220. I knew Atherton-Ely was going to have to move up and I wanted to have Alex (Perez) on him, and it just didn’t work out.”

Canton set a tone early in the dual and gave its upper weights an opportunity to pull away for win later in the dual. State-ranked Isaac Landis opened with a technical fall. Bailey Ferguson followed with a tough decision at 113 for an 8-0 lead.

Miah Lehman had the most energizing win of the night for Canton when she finished off a two-period ride on top by coming out of a scramble with a headlock for a fall in the third period at 126. She dominated the bout for two periods, scoring an early takedown in the first period before adding three near-fall points in the second period with a power half for a 5-0 lead.

Last night marked the first time this season Lehman has wrestled her natural weight of 126 in a dual meet. She’s been there for the Warriors’ tournaments, but has often been bumped around based on matchups. Her fall last night gave Canton a 14-6 lead. It was her fourth win by fall this year.

“She has an opportunity to take advantage of kids who leave some openings because she knows what she’s doing,” Wesneski said. “Once she got on top, she rode boots perfect. I think she wore him out and then she was able to turn him. That’s a testament to her because she always goes hard.”

Canton 45, Towanda 27

106: No. 19 Isaac Landis, C, tech. fall Shane Atwood, 15-0, 5:34. 113: No. 23 Bailey Ferguson, C, dec. Tyler Hawley, 4-3. 120: MyKee Nowell, T, pinned Austin Allen, 5:07. 126: Miah Lehman, C, pinned Garrett Chapman, 4:19. 132: Hayden Ward, C, tech. fall Wyatt Delameter, 5:22. 138: Skyler Allen, T, by forfeit. 145: Evan Johnson, T, pinned Tyler Williams, 1:05. 152: Riley Parker, C, tech. fall Joe Vanderpool, 15-0, 3:27. 160: Will Bowen, T, pinned Brenan Taylor, 3:35. 170: No. 8 Timmy Ward, C, pinned Spencer Jennings, 1:06. 182: Chance Deljanovan, C, pinned Jasiek Zalewski, 1:02. 195: No. 12 Garrett Storch, C, pinned Clay Watkins, 3:31. 220: No. 22 Derek Atherton-Ely, C, dec. Alex Perez, 5-0. 285: Aaron Herlt, T, dec. Trevor Williams, 2-1.

Takedowns: Canton 14, Towanda 5.

Records: Canton (8-1, 7-0 NTL); Towanda (12-6, 3-2 NTL).