Wrestlers shifting focus to postseason
With just a few matches left in the regular season, the Tigers are at the point in the wrestling season where they can focus solely on individual postseason goals.
While the Tigers (0-10) would love to pick up their first dual meet win of the season in one of their final three matches, it's not their sole focus.
"Postseason is always the goal," said Northwestern head coach Jim Moll. "I tell the guys the dual meets and tournaments we're in, it's all just training for the postseason. Hopefully they keep the big picture in mind and don't get discouraged."
With mostly freshmen and sophomores on the 2012-13 team, Moll sees this year's postseason as a building block. The further the young wrestlers can make it through this year's postseason, the more it will help them in future years.
The team also has a pair of seniors in Mike Ortiz and Mitchell Evans who want to finish their high school careers with postseason runs that end in Hershey.
Those two have been helping the team score points this season, but not nearly enough to get it dual meet wins.
Moll hoped his team would show improvement during last week's match against Palmerton, in which the Bombers were missing one of their top wrestlers. But the Tigers fell behind big early and couldn't catch up.
"We're young and we're showing it," Moll said. "I thought by this point in the season we'd be showing the experience we had. We wrestled a lot of tough tournaments, the Nazareth tournament, the Bethlehem Holiday Tournament, you see a lot of good wrestlers in there."
Despite giving up three forfeits, Palmerton won 46-29 by running the table from 120 through 152 last Wednesday.
"We were a little shorthanded," said Palmerton head coach Dave Lavin. "We knew we had to control the match from 120 to 152. I wanted to get some pins in there. A couple guys didn't get it, but they were going for big moves."
The Bombers (11-6 overall, 3-3 Colonial League) won eight of 10 contested matches, including five pins and six matches with bonus points.
The Tigers (0-10, 0-6) were down 34-11 when the strongest part of their lineup (152-170) got to the mat.
"They out-toughed us," said Moll. "They went out and went after it. They looked for pinning combinations. I lost count how many times they hit the rolling cement job. A bunch of times. They just outworked our guys."
One of those cement jobs was landed by Palmerton sophomore Dan Russo.
With the Bombers ahead 18-11 after three bouts, Russo (126) fell behind Jason Hottinger 2-0 in the first period. He hit a five-point move in the second period to take a lead, then held off Hottinger for the win, giving his team a 21-11 advantage.
"I had to dig myself out of a hole," said Russo. "In the second period I hit the cement job. From there on it was close and I'm just glad I pulled it out in the end."
Northwestern's Joe Colucci battled to hold Dillon Massington to a major decision at 132.
The Bombers got a pair of pins in key matches. Zack Christman (138) put Cole Moyer on his back in 3:41. Joseph Bubble (145) showed Andrew Sorensen the lights in 2:46 to give his team a 40-11 lead with just four bouts left.
The Tigers won forfeits at 160 and 170. Palmerton wrestled without Zach Graver.
Northwestern's Mike Ortiz bumped up to 182 and got the Tigers their only pin of the night as he put Matt Wolfe on his back in1:43.
The Bombers finished off the match with Jake Christman's pin of the Tigers' Alex Russo.
Palmerton improved to eighth in the District 11 Class AA rankings and appears headed to its second straight team duals.
Last week's match started a at 220, where Skyler Rosenburry got the Bombers a 6-0 lead when he pinned Jacob Murray in 39 seconds. A Northwestern forfeit at 285 made it 12-0.
Jarrett White (106) put Northwestern on the board when he dispatched of Brandon Traugher by technical fall, 15-0 after two periods.
The Tigers got another forfeit win before Josh Evans (120) pinned David Van Blargen in 2:29.
Northwestern faced Northern Lehigh on Wednesday and has three matches remaining. They are against Pen Argyl (Saturday), Schuylkill Haven (Feb. 2) and Wilson (Feb. 13). Schuylkill Haven is 1-9 this season and Wilson has just four wins. If the Tigers are going to win a match or two this season, those could be their best chances.