WILKES-BARRE – It’s not that often that you can accomplish two major milestones in one match.
That’s the situation Lake-Lehman senior Austin Harry found himself in as he stepped on the mat for his 132-pound District 2 Class 2A championship bout against Wyoming Area’s Kenny Beyer.
Like he’s been his entire career, Harry was calm and collected under pressure.
The senior became a four-time Class 2A district champion, and at the same time collected his 150th victory as the Black Knight picked up the 13-5 major decision over the Warriors freshman.
“The fourth district title was probably more nerve-racking,” Harry said. “The wins are just a number, and they will come. Winning four district titles has always been a goal of mine, ever since I was young. This is something I wanted to accomplish.”
Lake-Lehman — thanks to championship wins from Harry, Bobby Wright (160), Derek Dragon (170) and Brady Butler (182) – edged Meyers 161-159 in the team race. Western Wayne was a close third with 158 points, while GAR and Wyoming Area rounded out the top five.
The Wyoming Valley Conference will send a total of 29 wrestlers to next week’s regional at Williamsport High School. Meyers ships seven to Lycoming County, while Lehman qualified six. GAR and Wyoming Area each will have five in the tournament.
“One less win along the way, and we wouldn’t be where we are,” Lehman head coach Tom Williams said. “We had it calculated and we kind of knew what we needed. We knew that we would need a little help along the way, and we got some. We wanted to pick up bonus points where we could, and we were able to do that. That was really important for us. This is a team win.”
For Harry (34-1), Saturday’s win was monumental.
He becomes the 26th wrestler in District 2 history to earn four district championships, and is tied for seventh all-time in career wins with Lackawanna Trail’s Eric Laytos and Coughlin’s Justin Accordino.
Lehman’s Matt Dragon (2002-05) holds the WVC all-time record with 166 victories, while Abington Heights’ Evan Craig holds the district mark with 169 wins.
“When I started to wrestle when I was a little kid, I always wanted to be the best that I could,” Harry said. “I always wanted to go after Dragon’s record, but unfortunately, I don’t have enough matches left to get that. Getting 150 is great.”
Harry led 2-0 after the first period, thanks to a deep shot and single-leg takedown. He built the advantage to 7-2 after two, and dumped Beyer to the mat three times in the final stanza.
“We have a nice group of seniors, and they have been part of something special in their four years at Lake-Lehman. And Austin is the leader of that group. There’s no doubt when he leaves that his leadership is going to be missed. I’m proud of him, and all of the seniors,” Williams said.
Six athletes repeated as district champ.
In addition to Harry, teammates Dragon and Butler, GAR’s A.J. Luton and Zac Faust, and Wyoming Area’s Pat Heck each took home the gold medal again.
“There was a little added pressure that you are defending champ. Every champ has a target on their back. I just wanted to be successful, and wrestle to the best of my ability,” said Luton, who picked up a third-period pin in his 113-pound championship against Lehman’s R.J. Driscoll.
Heck had the toughest battle in defense of his crown.
The Wyoming Area sophomore hit a first-period five-point move against Hanover Area senior Brad Glazenski at 120, but had to withstand a battle to stay off his back in the third period for a 5-3 victory.
“I sort of caught him with that half-nelson and threw him to his back,” Heck said. “I tried my best to finish him, but he’s tough. That was the biggest move of the match. There was some pressure coming in with one title under my belt, but winning the second only paves the road for new challenges.”
Meyers had six in the finals, but only two athletes – freshman Colin Pasone (106) and sophomore Gino Setta (145) – captured gold.
“All we can ask for is an opportunity to win, and we were there,” Meyers head coach Ron Swingle said. “We got some early pins in the tournament, and we knew that it would come down to a few points between us, Western Wayne and Lake-Lehman. I’m proud of the kids because they wrestled well in all of their matches. With some of that lack of experience and mat time, it did come back to haunt us some. But I’m proud of our kids and what they were able to do.”