Spartans stun TV Bulldogs


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FOUNTAIN SPRINGS - On North Schuylkill's Senior Night, a pair of freshmen helped the Spartans post their biggest victory in years.

CJ Steinhilber earned a hard-fought decision and Shane McGrath limited a state placewinner to a major decision. The three team points Steinhilber gained and the two team points McGrath saved proved huge as North Schuylkill edged Tri-Valley 39-37 on Wednesday, Feb. 6 in a Schuylkill League Division I dual meet.

With the Spartans trailing 37-24, Steinhilber (17-12) bumped up to 195 to take on junior Mason White (13-13) in the final contested bout of the night.

The mission was clear. Any Steinhilber win - combined with forfeits at the final two weights - would put the Spartans over the top.

"I was nervous, but I was thinking, 'I have to do it for my team,' '' Steinhilber said. "Coach came back and told me, 'You win. We win.

"He said, 'Do it for the team. But just don't do it for your team, do it for the fans and do it for your coaches. And do it for yourself most importantly.' And we did it.''

Scoreless after one period, White escaped for a 1-0 lead at the 1:12 mark. With 47 seconds left in the period, Steinhilber sprawled off a White shot, snapped White's head down, grabbed his ankle and spun behind for a bout-changing takedown.

Tough riding, including after a restart with 11 seconds left, kept Steinhilber ahead 2-1 after two periods.

White worked hard for a hammerlock and armbar in the third period, but Steinhilber never gave in and never went to his back. Steinhilber got to his feet and escaped with 25 seconds left, then

fended off White the rest of the way for a 3-1 decision that brought the Spartans' bench and their fans to their feet.

"The kid was big, strong. And it was tough,'' Steinhilber said. "I thought, 'Tri-Valley's out to get us.' They only have eight guys, nine guys, but they're a good team. Every kid on that team is good.''

In the first contested bout of the night at 120, Caleb Bordner (27-7), eighth at states a year ago, posted a 19-9 major decision over McGrath (19-11). The bout was tied 4-4 after one period, and Bordner led just 8-6 after two. Bordner's five-point headlock broke the bout open, but McGrath didn't get pinned and saved the two points that was the final margin.

In another head-to-head battle at 138, Tri-Valley sophomore Hunter Harner topped senior Jordan Shinkus 6-4. A state qualifier last season, Harner (28-8) used two takedowns and a set of back points to turn back Shinkus (24-4), who kept the bout close throughout.

In all, Tri-Valley won 5-of-6 contested bouts for a 25-3 advantage. Chase Schaeffer (24-7), Blake Bowman (29-5) and Lyle Troutman (26-6) pinned for the Dawgs, who dressed just eight healthy guys.

"I thought we wrestled great,'' Tri-Valley co-head coach Dave Boltz said. "Every person had to wrestle tough for us to pull it out. ... Just go with the guys we have and keep trying.''

The Spartans won the pre-meet coin flip, so they could get McGrath, Shinkus and Steinhilber on the opponents they wanted.

"They did what they had to do on paper to try to win the dual meet, and I respect that,'' North Schuylkill coach Chris Edwards said. "I was hoping to get eight bouts in instead of six, but they went for the win, and we came through in the last bout of the night.''

With its win, North Schuylkill (12-4, 4-1 D-I) created a logjam atop the Schuylkill League standings.

Tri-Valley (9-3, 4-1 D-I) had held the division lead since it knocked off Blue Mountain 37-33 on Dec. 18.

The Eagles (15-7, 4-1 D-I) defeated Pine Grove 51-25 to create a three-way tie with one league dual left.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13 Blue Mountain was scheduled to host North Schuylkill and Tri-Valley was to entertain Pine Grove. (Details of those matches were unavailable prior to print production.)

"We're still in it,'' Edwards said.

"It's just nice to see the people back in the gym,'' he added. "North Schuylkill's gym was rockin' tonight for a wrestling match, and that feels good.''

Dawgs' Schoffstall mending from injury

On Jan. 19, senior Ty Schoffstall hurt his leg and had to default during the Schuylkill League Tournament finals.

Less than three weeks later, there's a slight chance Schoffstall (23-2 season, 136-20 career) may be able to compete in the District 11 Class AA Tournament, which begins Feb. 22.

Boltz said Schoffstall, a state bronze medalist, is making progress and has started swimming to maintain his conditioning.

"The door's still open,'' Boltz said. "He'll know the Monday before districts.''

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