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WVHS Junior High Grapplers Claim Sectional Title

The Wyalusing Valley junior high wrestling team, led by four champions, claimed the North Section title at Sayre on Feb. 18.

Collin Edsell, Ryan Force, Dylan Otis and Mike Armitage won weight-class titles as the Rams won the tournament title for the first time in five years.

Seven other Wyalusing wrestlers placed at the tournament, which included all of the Northern Tier League schools.

Lucas Jennings, Dalton Manning and Logan Wiles finished second at their weights, while Tracey Brown, Justin Haley, Warner Mendoza and Josh Shoemaker each finished third.

According to Ram coach Mike Earle, the team entered the tournament as a decided underdog, having finished with a 5-2 NTL dual-meet record and placing behind Towanda, Williamson and North Penn in different tournaments during the season.

The Rams entered the tournament with entries in 14 of the 18 weight classes.

There was added pressure in the preliminary round as wrestlers had to win that bout in order to advance to the remainder of the tournament.

"Although we had some very close matches in the first round, 11 of our 14 wrestlers made it to the semifinals," Earle said.

In the championship and consolation finals, seven of Wyalusing's eight victories came by fall.

"It was that last round that separated Wyalusing from the rest of the pack," Earle said. "It was really great to see how happy the team was when they announced the team points at the end of the tournament."

Earle noted that he and assistant coach Bud Putnam were pleased that the hard work the boys put in this season was rewarded at the end.

"I don't think we could have wrestled much better at the sectional tournament than we did. There are always some matches you look back on and say we could have won, but as a whole team, there weren't many."

At the start of the season, Earle knew he had a good returning nucleus of freshmen and eighth graders to work with, in addition to several talented freshmen. There were also some newcomers in the upper classes that eventually made important contributions.

In individual tournaments, the Rams were fifth at Milton, fourth at Williamson, seventh at Meyers and 10th at Shamokin.

At Milton, where the Rams had struggled for the past two seasons, Wyalusing had three champions—Edsell, Otis and Armitage. Jennings was second and Haley finished third.

Edsell was the only individual champion at the Meyers tourney, with Otis second and Force, Haley and Jennings finishing third.

At the Williamson tourney, Edsell, Wiles and Otis were champions, while Manning and Armitage finished second. Force and Haley were third.

Edsell and Otis won titles at the Shamokin tournament. Armitage was third and Jennings placed fourth.

Earle believed that adding the stiff competition at Shamokin one week before the sectional tourney helped the team.

Wyalusing defeated North Penn (47-39), Canton (54-38), Northeast Bradford (95-0), Sayre (78-6) and Troy (58-41) in NTL dual-meets. The losses were to Towanda (54-27) and Williamson (46-35).

They were also third at the Escape the Lake Duals at Wallenpaupack, defeating Crestwood (63-27), Delaware Valley (62-24) and Hanover Area (54-36). They lost to Wallenpaupack (59-32) and West Scranton (55-27).

The following wrestlers posted the top records for the 2010-2011 season: Edsell (26-1), Otis (26-1), Force (25-9), Armitage (24-6), Haley (23-9), Jennings (22-5), Wiles (15-7) and Manning (15-10).

Looking back at the season, Earle was impressed with the "attitudes and hard work" from the wrestlers, citing the attendance at holiday practices and number of volunteers as workers for the Ram Duals and the elementary tournaments.

He cited Brown, Charlie Stretch, Joe Roberts and Colston Gowin for their continuing improvement during the season.

Earle was also happy with the effort of Mendoza and Shoemaker who were sectional third-place finishers in their first season in the sport.

"Every individual on the team played an important part in our successes and should be proud of what they accomplished," he said.

He also credited the support of the parents and the booster club.

"Athletes cannot reach their potential without the support from home," he said.

"I think our booster club treats our junior high program better than most and it is appreciated."

Earle was also appreciative of the help from Putnam, a state runner-up as a Ram wrestler, who "aside from his wrestling knowledge, served as a great role model and added a lot of fun."

He said he left the team with a final thought.

"Feel good about what you have accomplished but don't become content. Realize that you have the potential for great things, but have to do a lot of work to fully realize those goals."

The extras include working hard in the weight room, taking advantage of out-of-season wrestling opportunities and making good decisions with their personal lives.

Team Roster

Freshmen: Dalton Manning and Logan Wiles.

Eighth Grade: Mike Armitage, Snyder Barr, Dalton Curren, Ryan Force, Colston Gowin, Justin Haley, D.J. Johnson, Warner Mendoza, Nevin Nolte, Dylan Otis, Joe Roberts, Dylan Sample and Josh Shoemaker.

Seventh Grade: Tracey Brown, Travis Carr, Dalton Chilson, Collin Edsell, Sam Greer, Lucas Jennings and Charlie Stretch.

Managers: Trena Carr, Brooke Force and Casey Host.

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