Canton wrestling rallies past Athens.
By: Brian Fees | Towanda Daily Review | January 5, 2018
By: Brian Fees | Towanda Daily Review | January 5, 2018
ATHENS — The Canton Warriors knew what they were facing when they headed to Athens on Thursda ynight.
The Warriors are one of the youngest teams in the league, featuring a roster made up of mostly freshmen and sophomores, and they went in forfeiting three weights on the day, and one of their top wrestlers — Garrett Storch — was out of the lineup.
On the other side were the Athens Wildcats, a team that took took fourth in the District 4 duals last year and returns a pair of state qualifiers.
In the end it was the young Warriors that came out on top, beating the Wildcats 38-35.
"It was really nice," Canton coach Lyle Wesneski said of the win. "We had a guy out of the lineup. We had some young guys we put in there who stepped up and came through in key bouts when we needed them to.
"Mak (Gleckner) that was a big swing bout for us at 45. Us winning the toss obviously, so we could match up (Isaac) Landis with (Kyler) Setzer, which we wanted to do. And our heavyweight (Jaden Hulslander), that was a big swing bout."
For the Warriors, the whole match came down to one of their freshmen as Athens led 35-32 entering the final bout at 170 where freshman Derek Atherton-Ely took the mat for Canton against Alex West of Athens.
"I was pretty stressed out for a few minutes," Atherton-Ely said.
Right from the start though Atherton-Ely came out and controlled the bout, working toward the fall right in the first period.
However, West fought back, got a reverse and nearly pinned Atherton Ely early in the second period.
That's when Atherton-Ely turned the tables again, regained control and got the fall in 3:20 to clinch the match.
"It was really close," Atherton-Ely said. "I made a couple mistakes, and then came back."
Wesneski was happy to see his freshman get a chance to shine.
"He's been waiting his turn," Wesneski said. "He's been working in the weight room. He's been taking his lumps in the weight room. He's been working with Storch and (Timmy) Ward and (Chance) Deljanovan and those guys beat up on him a little bit. He's been working his way down weight to get into the lineup and tonight was his chance and he made the most of it. We are happy for him. He's a freshman, he's got to cut out some mistakes that almost cost him the match, but he battled back.
"One thing that Derek will always give you, win or lose, he is going to battle for six minutes. The Troy match, that was his first varsity match, and he gave (Tyler) Williams all he wanted and he made a mistake and it cost him. I knew he was going to go out there and scrap for me, battle, because that's what he does. He's a big, rugged kid for a ninth grader and we are happy for him and he's going to build off this and keep getting better."
Canton's wrestlers had all the confidence in the world that Atherton-Ely would come through.
"We were nervous," Ward said of the 170-pound match. But, we knew he'd be able to pin him at some point in the match."
The match started at 182 and Athens' Jon Vough pinned Deljanovan in 3:22.
"Chance is a guy we put in the lineup, he was wrestling up a weight," Wesneski said. "He was wrestling really well, he was doing some good things and he made a mistake, not really a mistake, just resorts back to bad habits we try and break. Had he not done that, he would have won that bout easily. He's a 10th grader, hopefully he learns from it and keeps listening to us and learning because he's a big rugged kid, he's going to help us down the road."
At 195 Athens' Nate Bradley beat Christian Ward by technical fall 19-3 in 3:50 to make it an 11-0 Athens led.
Canton's Trevor Williams got a forfeit at 220 and at 285 Hulslander pinned Keegan Braund in 1:43 to put Canton up 12-11.
Athens' Bailey Poarch got a forfeit at 106 to make it 17-12 Athens, and then Landis faced Setzer at 113. Setzer got off to a fast start, and led 7-1 when Landis came back and got the pin.
"For him being a ninth grader, he has to learn when he gets out there, and the whistle blows, he has to be ready to go," Wesneski said. "He came out, and I give Setzer credit, he was right after him and that almost cost us the bout. But, Landis worked off his back, and fought back for the fall. We have got to be ready to go from the whistle, I keep preaching that to them every night in the room."
Canton's Dylan Burgess won by major decision 9-0 over David Nickson at 120 and there was a double forfeit at 126.
Athens' Chris Horton pinned Taylor Acla in 1:34 at 32 and the Wildcats' A.J. Burkhart won by forfeit at 138 as Athens went up 29-22.
Gleckner got a 12-0 major decision win over Devin Sweat at 145 and Ward pinned Alec Gratkoski in 22 seconds at 152.
With the back-to-back wins the Warriors started to feel they could win things.
"I knew we needed six, so I just got it done," Ward said.
David Galasso got a pin for Athens in 1:43 at 160, setting up Atherton-Ely's heroics at 170 to win it.
"It's great, but we need to start wrestling a lot smarter, and not as sloppy," Ward. "It's hard wrestling other teams that have a full lineup, but it was a good win for us."
For the younger kids in the lineup the victory is big for their confidence.
"It helps a lot, it gives me quite a bit of confidence," Atherton-Ely said.
And, with a young lineup the Warriors are excited for the future.
"Junior high we have a couple of lighter weight kids that can fill our empty spots and could be very good in a couple years," Ward said.