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Seven Mustangs earn district birth

ELYSBURG — Seven Mustangs, led by three-time District 4 Class 2A Southern Sectional champion Avery Bassett, will represent Midd-West in this week’s District 4 championship at Williamsport Area High School.

Bassett, a junior 145-pounder, climbed to the top of the podium at Southern Columbia Area High School again on Saturday night after a dominating performance as the No. 1 seed.

Joining Bassett in Williamsport will be a pair of freshmen silver medalists, Kyle Ferster, at 106 pounds, and Conner Heckman, at 113; a trio of senior third-place finishers, Ethan Zevan (120), Aidan Steininger (126) and Carter Sauer (220); and fourth-place junior Austin Aucker (132).

Midd-West advanced seven of its 10 wrestlers to the district meet. The Top 4 in each weight class advanced and the Top 5 this week will move on to the Northeast Regional the following weekend, also in Williamsport.

Bassett pinned his quarterfinal opponent, Sugar Valley’s Corbin Homan in 27 seconds, controlled a tough Southern Columbia junior Brandon Gedman for an 8-1 win in the semifinals, then had no trouble with Line Mountain’s Bryce Carl, the No. 2 seed.

Bassett took Carl down quickly and cruised to a technical fall (18-3) in 4 minutes, 13 seconds to improve his season record to 32-1.

Oddly enough, each of the three wrestlers he faced Saturday, were new to him. But he said it wouldn’t have affected him either way.

Bassett, who gave thanks to God for allowing him to compete, overcame an early-season injury this year, having missed three matches because of a broken hand.

“Avery wrestled real well, Midd-West coach Dale Franquet said. “We came in with 10 and we’re departing with seven, so overall it was a good day, some pretty good performances.”

One disappointment, Franquet said, was the loss of Trey Lauver, the No. 2 seed at 195 pounds.

The No. 2 seed opened with a 23-second pin over Danville’s Santiago Bermudez, but then got pinned in the semifinals in 2:57 by Line Mountain’s Dominick Bridi. Lauver finished his season at 30-9.

“He had a setback in the semifinals and then when he bumped down in the cross-over match, he didn’t wrestle the way he should have wrestled,” Franquet said.

Zevan (18-8) had a scary moment in his consolation final with Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech’s Colton Eckroth. He won by injury default after he was slammed to the mat and unable to continue.

“His arm got trapped underneath him and his nose got planted into the mat,” Franquet said. “It might be broken, we don’t know, but he will be able to compete next week.”

Franquet said he was pleased with the team placing fourth (with 117.5) points, despite the departure of two wrestlers who quit the team before sectionals.

He was pleased with how his two freshmen finalists, Ferster and Heckman, wrestled against quality opponents. Ferster got the first takedown against Line Mountain’s Aidan Kritzer before losing 19-9 and Heckman lost 4-0 to top seed Kaiden Wagner, of Lewisburg.

Ferster pinned his first two opponents and is now 24-11. Heckman, now 32-4, won by fall and major decision before reaching the finals.

“Ferster and Heckman had good matches,” Franquet said. “They did a couple things that we can do better next week.”

Steininger (30-9) opened with a pin, then lost 2-0 to returning state qualifier Gabe Gramly, of Mifflinburg, before taking third with a 10-0 major over Shamokin’s Collin Bozza.

Fellow senior Sauer (32-5) got pinned by Southern’s Max Tillett, but rebounded with a fall over Riley Bremigen, of Lewisburg, and an 8-4 win over Milton’s Brent Mitch to take third.

Franquet also said that Aucker wrestled well to come back to get fourth, getting pinned in the consolation final.

Aucker (22-13) beat Mount Carmel’s Tyler Winhofer in the second tiebreaker (11-7) in the quarterfinals before getting pinned by top seed Kyler Crawford, of Milton. He came back with an 8-7 win over Shamokin’s Tyler Whary before getting pinned.

But, Franquet said, “He battled a tough Southern kid in (Ian) Yoder.”

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