LHU: Bald Eagles stun Sun Devils 23-14 at Red Lion HS
By SAM KUPERMAN
For The Express
In an environment that encapsulated artificial and authentic all into one, No. 22 Lock Haven wrestling flexed its muscle, defeating No. 12 Arizona State 23-14 Friday. The Bald Eagles won six out of 10 bouts in the dual held in front of a roaring crowd of 2,172 spectators at Red Lion High School.
“A lot of great effort out there,” Lock Haven head coach Scott Moore said. “Some wins, some losses, but at the end of the day you find a way to come out and win the dual meet. These guys have a great experience now to talk about.”
This marks the second consecutive season that the Bald Eagles have defeated a nationally ranked opponent in front of their home fans, after beating No. 11 Rutgers 22-16 last season in Lock Haven. Since then, Lock Haven has taken its rise to a whole different level, remaining in the national rankings for over a calendar year and counting now.
LHU started the night off down 4-0, after 174 pound Arizona State reigning national champion Zahid Valencia topped Jared Siegrist 14-4 in a major decision. Lock Haven then went on to win six consecutive bouts, clinching the matchup 23-4 before the final three matchups took place.
Wins came from Corey Hazel at 184, Parker McClellan at 197, Thomas Haines at 285, Luke Werner at 125, Dj Fehlman at 133, and Kyle Shoop at 141.
Lock Haven captured four bonus points during that span, including three from Luke Werner in his pivotal pin over Brandon Courtney with 20 seconds remaining in the final period. Werner was down four points before the comeback win, which marked a nine-point swing, giving the Bald Eagles a 15-4 edge heading into intermission.
“It was essential,” Moore said. “I think it was a breaking point where the Arizona State guy was trying to turn up the heat a little and maybe get a major, and then Luke in the battle. Rather than just finishing the takedown and laying on top he went for it.”
Werner’s win sparked what was already an enthusiastic crowd, and further energized his teammates as LHU climbed to victory soon after.
“You never want to be losing late in the match like that,” Werner said. “To come back and get the pin, it was really big for me. Not just getting the back points and getting the win, but actually getting the fall was huge I think.”
The dual win was secured when Shoop, the national leader in tech falls at 11, earned another one in a dominate two-period 16-0 win.
While Arizona State closed the night with three straight wins (including a 2-1 win for fifth ranked Josh Shields over fourth ranked Chance Marsteller at 165 pounds in tiebreaker two), the damage was done.
LHU now moves to 4-2, and is set to move back up in the rankings.
“You have certain times where you really get to celebrate your program and put them out there in this environment,” Moore said. “Marquee win for the year. Marquee win for the program.”
Lock Haven now gets ready for a home dual with Millersville Sunday afternoon, but will take positives from this night that extend beyond the realm of wins and losses.
“We’re excited tp take what we built from here, use the momentum that we got from this tournament in everything that we do,” Moore said. “We talk about recruiting. We talk about program development. We want to use everything from tonight to move our program forward.”