Mustangs second; send five to district meet

MIFFLINBURG – For a team that went 9-20 in dual meets, Midd-West sure did make noise Saturday at the District 4 Class AA Southern Section wrestling tournament at Mifflinburg Intermediate School.

The Mustangs finished second in the team race behind host Mifflinburg (134-125), crowned a pair of champions and will send five to the District 4 championships Friday and Saturday at Williamsport.

Grabbing titles for the Mustangs were senior Zach Heeter (33-2) at 145 pounds and junior Alex Lieberman (28-5) at 170. Previously unbeaten sophomore Corey Stauffer (33-1) fell in the finals at 106 pounds and sophomore Dylan Hain (14-17) finished third at 138 to earn a trip to Williamsport. Also finishing runner-up was sophomore Tanner Ebright (24-10), who lost at 126 to Southern Columbia sophomore Kent Lane (31-0).

Leiberman was a bit under the radar as he made his first trip to sections. Although seeded second with a 25-5 record, not many gave him much of a chance against Line Mountain veteran Erik Smeltz. But Lieberman came through with a pin in 3:21, his third of the day.

“This is my first year going for sectionals because I was hurt the first two years. Not many people knew about me,” the Mustang said.

Of his battle with Smeltz, he said “He was strong – I had to tire him a little bit.”

Clint Swartz, the Midd-West coach, said, “We knew (Lieberman) had quite a bit of potential there. We’re pleased with him and he might have been a bit of a surprise.”

Heeter’s battle with Milton’s Taylor Porter was a physical one, one that Heeter expected.

“Once I got up (2-0 with a takedown) I had a lot of confidence. But I knew he would come after me pretty strong,” Heeter said. “He’s real physical and I just wrestle back.”

Swartz said the coaches expected that with Porter.

“He (Heeter) kept his head in it, did what he had to do, scored some points,” Swartz said.

Both of Heeter’s losses came to wrestlers outside of the district – one to a wrestler from District 6 Penns Valley, the other to a Class AAA foe from Carlisle, a District 3 Mid-Penn school.

Stauffer lost 12-5 to Line Mountain’s Cameron Newman, a state qualifier a year ago. Stauffer moved to the finals with a 5-2 win over Lewisburg’s Brian Friery. Those three, along with Warrior Run’s Zach LeBarron, appear to be the class in the district. Hain pinned Dakota Haines of Mifflinburg in the consolation finals.

Swartz was happy with his team’s effort on Saturday and he was midly surprised.

“They surprised me a little bit,” he said. “We had Jersey Shore on Wednesday and we only took eight guys. Six of them won. I kind of had a good feeling about the weekend.

“We wrestle a lot of dual meets and we give up forfeits so it looks like we’re really not as good as we are. They wrestled tough today and had a good tournament.”

Mifflinburg crowned five champions. Milton had two, including senior defending state champion Ryan Solomon at 195. Four schools had one apiece: Southern Columbia, Shamokin, Lewisburg and Line Mountain, which saw senior Seth Lansberry win his fourth sectional title.