2 Mustangs finish with bronze

WILLIAMSPORT – Two Mustangs are headed toward the corral at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Junior Alex Lieberman (170) and senior Zack Heeter (145) will use third-place finishes in Saturday’s Northeastern Class AA Regional as entries into the state championships, which will begin Thursday.

Both state-bound grapplers battled back from first-round losses on Friday to earn bronze medals. It is the first trip to states for both wrestlers.

A third Mustang, Corey Stauffer at 106 pounds, just missed a state berth with a fourth-place finish.

Clint Swartz, the Midd-West coach, admitted Saturday was a better day than Friday when all four Mustangs lost.

“We’re taking two, they wrestled real well today,” Swartz said. “The other kids (Tanner Ebright at 126 and Stauffer) did well today. Tanner has been working real hard.”

Swartz said there’s not much he can do to get the two guys ready for states. “I think you have to take the spectacle out of it. I’ll tell them ‘we’re in Hershey now, just go out and wrestle.'”

“I’m proud, I’m pretty happy,” Lieberman said. “It does feel good (to go with Heeter), we can stick together.”

Lieberman, who had never wrestled in the postseason before, won the District 4 title. At the regional tournament he lost his first bout 4-3 to finalist Justin Knee of South Williamsport. Then on Saturday he recovered to beat Brandon Lontz of Benton 7-2 and then followed with a win over Brandon Hadden of Western Wayne by a score of 5-1 for third place.

Lieberman was ill during the week, even missing a day of school.

Heeter got a 3-1 win over Manny Mirailh of Western Wayne for third. A takedown was the difference. Earlier in the day he topped Garrett Hoffman of Montoursville by 8-3.

“It was tough (after losing Friday) but I bounced back. I knew that one takedown wins the match so I went for takedown,” Heeter said.

“I’m just going out there and wrestle my best. I’m looking for a state title,” Heeter continued.

In the consolations, sophomore Ebright won his first bout, a pin in 3:26 over Troy Maby of Blue Ridge. He was then eliminated in a 5-1 loss to Keith Batkowski of Montoursville. Ebright completed the season at 28-14.

Stauffer was eliminated when he lost for the third time this year to Warrior Run’s Zack LeBarron. Last week, in the district championship, he lost 11-9 to LeBarron. Then in the first round Friday, the Defender pinned Stauffer. It was 7-3 in the consolation final.

Benton won the team title with 93 points while Mifflinburg was second with 51.5. Southern Columbia and Milton tied for third with 45. Midd-West was 14th with 30.