MONTOURSVILLE — The Canton Warriors knew that Saturday would be a big test.
The Warriors are a team loaded with freshmen, and young wrestlers, and they were on the road against one of the best in District 4.
In the end, Canton came up short against Montoursville 48-21, but it was a match that Canton knew they needed as they gear up for the stretch run in the NTL and then the postseason.
“It was a good match,” Canton coach Lyle Wesneski said. “We knew we were going to use this as a measuring stick, see where we are at, what we need to do. Some of those big matches we got, we’ve got some things to work on. (Garrett) Storch/(Dylan) Bennett, we aren’t out of that at all, we are right in that.
“We wanted to see where we are at. We’ve got a young group. I was proud. Some of them stepped up and some of the other ones, we have got to go back to the drawing board Monday and get ready to go. We have a big one Tuesday.”
The match started at 285 with Trevor Williams of Canton getting a pin over Lane Stutzman in 4:44 to put Canton up 6-0.
Branden Wentzel of Montoursville won by technical fall 19-4 in 5:36 over Isaac Landis at 106 to make it 6-5 Canton.
Canton got another win at 113 as Bailey Ferguson won 7-0 over Cole Johnson to put the Warriors up 9-5.
For Canton Ferguson was one of three freshmen, with Hayden Ward and Riley Parker, to win on Saturday.
“They are starting to come around,” Wesneski said of the freshmen. “You get through that early season blues with the shock of being varsity, and now they are not freshmen anymore in my eyes. They have 25 matches under their belt, we are getting to the crunch time of the season. District duals, postseason is three, four weeks away. They are stepping up and they are starting to peak at a good time and we will see what they can do.”
Kayden Frame of Montoursville got a pin in 3:33 over Austin Allen at 120 to put Montoursville up 11-9 and Lucas Sherwood got a forfeit at 126 to make it 17-9.
Ward came out at 132 and got a pin in 3:08 over Broc Lutz, a regional qualifier a year ago.
“He don’t care,” Wesneski said of Ward. “He is one of those kids, it doesn’t matter. He goes out there and lets it fly and whatever happens, happens. I said, well you are either wrestling Lutz or you are on (James) Batkowski and he said I don’t care. That’s the mentality I like, that you just go out there and be free and flow and let the cards fall where they may.”
The win by Ward cut the deficit to 17-15, before Batkowski pinned Miah Lehman in 38 seconds to make it 23-15 Montoursville.
Parker got a first-period fall for Canton, pinned Zach Barnes in 1:28 to cut the deficit to 23-21.
Jacob Dinges won a tough 10-6 match over Brenen Taylor at 152 for Montoursville and Isaac Cory, who made states for Troy last year, pinned Zeke Gilliland in 1:30 at 160 as Montoursville extended their lead to 32-21.
At 170 there was a marquee matchup of Cael Crebs and Timmy Ward and Crebs got the major decision win for Montoursville 8-0 to make the score 36-21, and Dylan Bennett of Montoursville held on to edge Storch 4-3 at 182 to clinch the match.
Gavin Livemore of Montoursville won 8-2 over Derek Atherton-Ely at 195 and at 220 Cameron Wood of Montoursville pinned Conner Davis in 40 seconds to wrap up the match as Montoursville earned the last 25 points of the match.
For Canton, some of the matches with their veterans at the higher weights went in favor of Montoursville, but Wesneski knows his kids were close in matchups of regionally ranked wrestlers.
“As far as Timmy’s (Ward) match, big match, it was 8-0 and it looks like he got dominated,” Wesneski said. “But, I think we go back, fix a cuople things and get after it and I think in another month it will be much closer than that. Same with Garrett, we’ve got a couple things to work on and he’s right there. He’s right there with all of them. They’ve just got to believe it, and keep training and they will be ready to go.”
Canton has another big match Tuesday as they go to Athens in a key NTL matchup.
“We are going to have some big matches, key matches, some of the younger kids, the even more inexperienced kids are going to have to step up and win a match here and there for us and see how it goes,” Wesneski said. “I’m excited for it. Should be a wild crowd in Athens, it will be fun.”