The way Connor Huber sees it, if he and his Freedom wrestling teammates are going to work the District 11 3A team tournament, they might as well wrestle.
Our goal is to get to the 5:30 p.m. session (championship/consolation finals) on Saturday, said the Patriot senior 126-pounder. We have to set up the gym and roll out the mats, so it only seems fair we get a chance to wrestle, for the last time for the seniors, at home.
Freedom isnt seeded to be around by 5:30 on Saturday, but the Patriots (14-6), ranked No. 10 in the region by lehighvalleylive, certainly look to have the talent and moxie to upend the seeds.
Freedom is seeded sixth, and will open the tournament against No .11 seed Whitehall (10-5) Thursday at 6 p.m. at Libertys Memorial Gym. The winner will advance to a quarterfinal against No. 3 seed Bethlehem Catholic (9-1) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and assure at least one consolation match on Saturday where the tournament resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday.
First-round losers do not wrestle back, as Huber and the Pates well know.
Last year was depressing, Huber said. We lost to Emmaus in the first round and we didnt even get to wrestle in our own gym on Saturday.
This time around, the Patriots should at least get to do that, even if they seem disrespected by the seeding.
I was kind of surprised we were seeded sixth, Huber said. I know Becahi is seeded higher, and I know they beat us (62-6 on Jan. 8). I know we can wrestle better and give them a different match.
Freedom is certainly capable of impressive performances, like last weeks 36-28 defeat of archrival Liberty. However, the Pates can also struggle a bit, as on Saturdays EPC championship day when they looked flat in a 45-28 loss to Stroudsburg in the fifth-place match.
When were wrestling well, were very pumped up, ready to go, and we all know what we need to do, Huber said. A lot of our motivation comes from our senior class; we make sure everyone is sure about what has to happen and keep everybody motivated.
Huber, now 22-6 on the season, has looked plenty motivated lately, posting pins of Libertys Ansar Niazi (2:28) and Stroudsburgs Brandon Wiligus (44 seconds) in key spots for the Pates. Freedom head coach Dante Terenzio praised Hubers performance against the Hurricanes, saying that kid (Niazi) just doesnt get pinned.
Huber was one of two Freedom wrestlers to win a match against Becahi in the dual, as he defeated Trey Miletics 4-2. This time, though, Huber is likely to see a tougher foe, such as Matt Mayer (ranked No. 2 at 126 by lehighvalleylive) or Evan Gleason (ranked No. 1 at 132).
I dont care who I wrestle, I feel like I am capable of giving anyone a tough match, Huber said. I just have to be ready to wrestle.
Huber, who has 86 wins on his career, is enjoying his best scholastic season.
Last year I didnt really take many shots, I was always trying to score with a drag by or something like that, Huber said. Now, I have been working on my feet a lot more, and I feel like I can score points on my feet. I have also been working on my defense and on top. We have been drilling a lot of top and it has been working for us.
Part of Hubers improvement can be credited to his practice partner, senior Luis Vargas (27-3), ranked No. 2 at 120 by lehighvalleylive.
Luis is very quick, he stays low, and makes it really hard to get on his legs, Huber said. If I can get in on Luis legs I can get to anybodys. When we wrestle, its like a 50/50, but hes really good. You cant stop moving and you always have to be changing levels.
After the team duals, Huber has eyes on Hershey, where he has never wrestled.
My goal is to place in the top three in District 11, and then in the (Northeast) Regional, and then get to states and see how well I do.
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