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Konigus Scores Biggest Upset Of Opening Rounds
January 5, 2019
LEHMAN TWP. — The pressure of Mason Konigus’ first conference tournament went away with his pin in the preliminary round.
There was no panic by the time the Lake-Lehman freshman wrestled next against the top-seeded 106-pounder — even after he was quickly taken down.
Instead, Konigus fought back to his feet and stayed aggressive. Nanticoke Area’s Zach Capie blocked one shot, but Konigus kept working for a takedown and grabbed an arm to put the junior on his back.
With the official’s slap of the mat, Konigus pulled off the most significant win from the opening rounds of the 10th annual Wyoming Valley Conference wrestling tournament Friday night at Lake-Lehman. He had Day 1’s only victory against a top seed (Capie bumped up from No. 2 after a seeding correction) and became the first of eight Lake-Lehman wrestlers to advance to today’s 9 a.m. semifinals.
“I can hang with the top kids,” Konigus said his two first-period pins told him. “I can definitely win these tough matches against good kids.”
Inexperienced at the varsity level and sporting a 4-7 record, Konigus entered the tournament as a No. 8 seed but has secured a medal. He’ll either finish his day in the 2 p.m. medal rounds for third- and fifth-place or the finals at 4.
Though the win might come as a surprise, Konigus is in the same spot as he was at last year’s junior high conference tournament. He was the 95-pound champion there.
The transition to varsity wrestling has had its bumps, especially against older competition, Konigus said. But he didn’t let Friday’s 13-team event, or Capie’s top seed, rattle him.
“Getting that first match over with, nice and easy, just really got me going,” Konigus said. “That second match ... I got taken down. I didn’t let it bother me.”
Equally decorated opponents wait for Konigus. His semifinal is against Tunkhannock freshman Owen Woods, who won last year’s 90-pound junior high title. Last year’s 85-pound junior high champion, Ian Ratchford of Valley West, and Hazleton Area sophomore Johnny Corra, who won a junior high title in 2017, wrestle in the other semi.
“It was good for him,” Mason’s dad and head coach J.J. Konigus said. “No matter what happens the rest of the tournament, of course he wants to get in the finals, but it was a good win for him.”
Lehman in title hunt
Few other upsets occurred among top-three seeds beyond Konigus’ notable victory. Three No. 3 seeds fell, and Lake-Lehman benefited from one of those, too, when No. 6 Josh Bonomo pinned Meyers junior Caleb Burns in 47 seconds in a 138-pound match.
Lehman’s Thomas Nalbone also came within seconds of an upset of 195-pound top-seed Jaryn Polit-Moran, but the Wyoming Area senior forced overtime and prevailed.
Nevertheless, the Black Knights’ strong showings in both the championship and consolation brackets leave them with a tourney-leading 13 wrestlers after Day 1. They’re second in the team standings to Hazleton Area — with nine semifinalists and 11 total Cougars alive — by a 94-83 margin.
“We got a lot of pins, so we got the bonus points,” Cougars coach Keith Maurer said. “Right now, we’re doing the things that we’re supposed to do to win a tournament.”
Other big wins on paper included Dallas No. 6 seed Liam Farrell’s decision at 120 pounds against third-seeded Jason Carver of Meyers, a returning district finalist. At heavyweight, Berwick sophomore Ethan Hughes scored a 7-over-3 upset pinning Coughlin’s Aaron Warnagaris in the latter’s season debut.
There were also a handful of 5-over-4 victories Friday. For the most part, though, favored wrestlers won, oftentimes by fall.
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106: Mason Konigus (L-L) vs. Owen Woods (TUN); Ian Ratchford (VW) vs. Johnny Corra (HAZ).
113: Cadden Kucek (VW) vs. Justin Benscoter (DAL); Cooper Price (COU) vs. Joseph Sauers (NA).
120: J.J. White (VW) vs. Beck Hutchison (HAZ); Liam Farrell (DAL) vs. Joe Rowley (HAN).
126: David Krokowski (VW) vs. Trey Zabroski (CRE); Zach Stuart (L-L) vs. Nick Yule (BER).
132: Bob Long (L-L) vs. Ethan Munley (TUN); Christian Kislan (HAZ) vs. Tyler Shaud (HAZ).
138: Tommy Traver (TUN) vs. Connor Wrobleski (WA); Josh Bonomo (L-L) vs. Darren Clarke (COU).
145: Hunter Burke (L-L) vs. Jamie Pahler (COU); Gavin D’Amato (TUN) vs. Thad Mead (DAL).
152: D.J. Erickson (HAN) vs. Oscar Perla (BER); Jake Trumbower (L-L) vs. Charles Everdale (HAZ).
160: Robin Wrobleski (WA) vs. Bryce Molinaro (HAZ); A.J. Gorto (PA) vs. Liam Stone (CRE).
170: Adam Eckhart (NA) vs. Len Kelley (DAL); Jake Marnell (HAZ) vs. Nick Zaboski (L-L).
182: Steven Newell (DAL) vs. Chandler O’Farrell (CRE); Isaiah Johnson (NA) vs. Jayson Brielmeier (HAZ).
195: Jaryn Polit-Moran (WA) vs. Dave White (VW); Seth Hunsinger (HAZ) vs. J.J. Snyder (BER).
220: Shane Noonan (HAZ) vs. Connor Lee (COU); Taylor Bolesta (DAL) vs. T.J. Meehan (L-L).
285: Shawn Henninger (DAL) vs. Jhamal Zacharias (TUN); Ethan Hughes (BER) vs. Shane Repasky (NA).