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Balint’s pin propels Montoursville to win

BOILING SPRINGS – Thinking for a second, Emery Balint scanned the inside of the gym at Boiling Springs High School with his eyes. Reminiscing on the left-handed headlock the Montoursville junior hit for a shocking fall at 145 pounds Monday night, Balint came to a conclusion about his weapon of choice on the wrestling mat.

“That’s really the only move I’m capable of doing,” Balint said with a smile.

He’s made a habit out of using that headlock in his first year as a starter for the Warriors. And in the preliminary round of the PIAA Team Wrestling Championships last night, that left-handed headlock led to a tide-turning win.

Montoursville won six of the next eight bouts against the District 3 runner-up. When top-ranked Branden Wentzel scored a first-period fall at 106 pounds, it locked up the Warriors’ win and a spot in the state tournament Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey. Montoursville defeated Boiling Springs, 45-25, thanks to seven fall. The Warriors advance to face District 7 champion Burrell on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Giant Center. It’s Montoursville’s first appearance in the team tournament since it finished in the Top 6 in 2016.

“He’s an effort kid. You don’t know what’s going to happen when you send him out there, but you know you’re going to get everything from him,” Montoursville coach Matt Yonkin said. “You want a bunch of those kids in your lineup because they’re dangerous and you never know when something is going to come because he’s non-stop.”

On a night where the Warriors had the clear advantage in the upper weight against Boiling Springs, it still needed wins like the one Balint gave at 145 pounds, and the fall Jake Dinges followed with at 152. Those wins became all the more important when 16th-ranked Isaac Cory lost, 12-2, at 160 pounds to an unranked Eli Crum.

It’s the kind of unexpected contributions the Warriors are going to need if they hope to go to Hershey and win matches. And Balint’s and Dinges’ wins last night were the kind of effort Montoursville got from the likes of Jackson Watkins and Gavin Livermore in Saturday’s third-place match at the District 4 Duals against Muncy.

So when Balint snapped off that nasty headlock last night, he knew he needed to finish it. He cranked hard on Duggan’s head to lift it to better try and square his shoulders to the mat. Yonkin and the rest of the bench got in Balint’s line of sight trying to give him tips to finish the fall. Finally, as Duggan scrambled to get out of bounds, the official blew his whistle to signal the fall.

The loss snapped Duggan’s 13-match winning streak. It also gave Balint his career-high 13th win of the season.

“At my old school my coaches told me not to use it, but I stuck with it because it works for me,” Balint said. “(Yonkin) tells me to do what works for me and throw it when I have the chance. It’s something I like to set up.”

“He’s been able to develop that headlock off his outside single, and he’s been able to work them pretty well,” Yonkin said. “He uses one to set up the other, and he’s successful with it. With success comes confidence. He’s the only guy in the room with the green light to throw it whenever he wants.”

Combined with Dinges’ fall and even after Cory’s upset loss at 160, the Warriors handed a 12-9 lead over to the strongest portion of its lineup. Fifth-ranked Cael Crebs worked for a fall and got it when he was up 12-0 at 170 pounds. Fifth-ranked Dylan Bennett needed just 1:19 for a fall at 182. Lane Stutzman posted a workmanlike 6-3 win at 220 pounds. And sixth-ranked Cameron Wood bumped up a weight class to get a fall in 1:03 at 285.

It gave Wentzel the chance to seal the win, and he did just that with a fall at 106, giving Montoursville a 39-12 lead with only four bouts to go. It was Montoursville’s first state tournament win since beating Southern Columbia, 42-28, in the consolation quarterfinals on Feb. 13, 2016.

Montoursville put on quite the performance last night despite having just one day to recover from a brutal four-match day at the district tournament Saturday. But it’s all part of the grind the Warriors have been on since the new year. Last night was the 23rd match wrestled by Montoursville in the last 31 days, which includes 12 separate weigh-ins.

Montoursville is 22-1 in those 23 matches. It’s only loss was to second-ranked Southern Columbia in Saturday’s district semifinal.

“We’re feeling the grind,” said 126-pounder Broc Lutz, who had one of the Warriors seven falls last night. “I know I’m feeling really sore, but we have to keep working. I feel great about the team because everyone is going out there and working hard for the team and scoring points when they can.”

“I know we don’t have a choice but to keep wrestling through it. So we’re making the most of it.” Yonkin said. “I know I would love to have some days freed up where we could do some teaching and go back and revisit some situations and get into the grind of our conditioning. We’ve been missing out on our conditioning and it’s starting to show in some of the kids. We’ve been too busy recovering and wrestling, recovering and wrestling, that we haven’t had the chance to really improve ourselves. It’s a grind for sure.”

No. 16 Montoursville 45,

No. 18 Boiling Springs 25

138: No. 17 Kobin Kasper, BS, tech. fall Xan Oberheim, 23-8, 5:39.

145: Emery Balint, M, pinned Michael Duggan, 1:20.

152: Jake Dinges, M, pinned Aidan Metzger, 3:46.

160: Eli Crum, BS, maj. dec. No. 16 Isaac Cory, 12-2.

170: No. 5 Cael Crebs, M, pinned De’von James, 5:02.

182: No. 5 Dylan Bennett, M, pinned Jaydan Barrick, 1:19.

195: Josh Martin, BS, dec. Caleb Moser, 3-2.

220: Lane Stutzman, M, dec. Colby Page, 6-3.

285: No. 6 Cameron Wood, M, pinned Landon Billman, 1:03.

106: No. 1 Branden Wentzel, M, pinned James Snyder, 1:47.

113: Raif Barber, BS, maj. dec. Cole Johnson, 8-0.

120: Austin Mahoney, BS, pinned Lucas Sherwood, 3:00.

126: No. 20 Broc Lutz, M, pinned Eli Bounds, 1:35.

132: Andrew Stafford, BS, dec. James Batkowski, 6-4, sv.

Takedowns: Boiling Springs 20, Montoursville 15.

Records: Montoursville (23-1); Boiling Springs (11-3).

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