Lackawanna Trail’s hopes for a successful wrestling season became a whole lot more promising Friday and Saturday when the Lions opened the season by winning the title in the 24-team Darren Klingerman Invitational at Bloomsburg University.
Robbie Schneider pinned four straight opponents at 126 pounds on his way to the final where he posted a major decision over Mount Carmel’s Trevor McDonald, 12-4, to take the individual title.
The Lions placed six wrestlers in the top four in their weight classes and 10 in the top eight.
That depth allowed Lackawanna Trail to hold off Canton, 186 ½-174, for the team title and easily outscore the combined totals of Crestwood, Berwick and Valley View, the other three District 2 teams entered in the event.
Max Bluhm and Ethan Lee won 5-4 decisions in the consolation finals at 106 and 120 to post third-place finishes. Dalten Klinges also finished third, shutting out Mount Carmel’s Joe Bendas, 5-4, in the consolation final.
Michael Bluhm (132) and Jonah Houser (182) made the consolation final, but settled for fourth place.
Cole Henry, at 106, and Deegan Ross, at 113, were fifth.
Cullen Ratchford took seventh at 145 and Tynell Bracero was eighth at 220.
The return of seven of the eight wrestlers who won at least 11 times last season meant the Lions already went into the season with optimism.
They were 3-3 in Lackawanna League Division 4, 7-11 overall and seventh in the District 2 Class 2A tournament.
The weekend tournament performance quickly established that an improvement on each of those finishes seems likely.
Michael Bluhm leads the way.
As a freshman last season, he won the district 113-pound title and finished fifth in the Northeast Regional to complete a 35-7 season.
Klinges, a junior, was 18-14 and placed third in the district.
Cole Henry, a sophomore, was 15-14 and a fifth-place district finisher last season.
Bracero, a senior, went 17-13 last season.
The other returnees who won at least 11 times last season are senior Kody Cresswell, junior Dalton Deacon and sophomore Mason Zajac.
Henry and Max Bluhm give the Lions two strong options at 106.
Freshman Deegan Ross is at 113.
Ethan Lee, a freshman, and Deacon are 120-pounders.
Freshman Robbie Schneider, Bluhm and Klinges are at 126, 132 and 138.
Seth Ross, a freshman, and Julius Rosenkrans, a sophomore, are the options at 145.
Sophomores Cresswell and Tyler Rozanski are at 152 and 160.
The Lions have the ability to fill every weight class with some juggling.
Freshman Jonah Houser joins Zajac at 182.
Seniors Mark Dunckle and Bracero are the 195- and 220-pounders with junior Kyle Austin at 285.