NTL WRESTLING: CANTON READY TO DEFEND NTL TITLE
(2021-01-11)BY CHRIS MANNINGNorthern Tier Sports Report
Last year Canton rose to the top of the NTL, winning their first league title in over a decade.
This year, they will look to stay there.
They return two state qualifiers this year with Hayden Ward and Derek Atherton-Ely, while state medalist Timmy Ward, who can’t wrestle due to injury, will be there as well to provide leadership.
“None of us knew what was going to happen this year,” said Timmy. “We came in for a week, then got shut down again. I think everybody is happy to be back and relaxed and enjoy what we have for now.”
Their depth has been hurt some due to a couple wrestlers opting out because of Covid-19 and injuries to a couple others, but the seniors believe they still have the inside track to another league title.
“I think our team is still strong,” said Isaac Landis. “Most of us have been working out this past week in Williamsport at the Ride Out Club. I’ve been working out with my brother at home when I don’t have that, so I feel like I’m still somewhat prepared.”
They get Athens tomorrow right off the bat. The Wildcats gave them their toughest league match a year ago as the Warriors eeked out a 39-38 win. They also beat Towanda 45-27 and Wyalusing 45-30 en route to their undefeated record.
“I think everybody just has the same mindset,” said Timmy. “They’re all just out here trying to get better everyday. We don’t care what we’re ranked at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day; it’s just go out and do your best and wrestle your hardest.”
Being a senior, Timmy is enjoying one last ride with the Warriors.
“I’m just helping others, doing what I can,” he said. “I played football with half these guys, grew up with them. I’m just here to help whoever and watch and enjoy it for a year.”
Atherton-Ely is hoping to get back to states, but first he has to find a weight. The PIAA cut back to 13 weight classes, eliminating the 195 pound class that Atherton-Ely was eyeing as his own.
“I’m right there,” he said. “We’re between weights right now. I don’t know where we’re going. I could go down to 189 or up to 215.”
Canton has quite a few kids that can weigh in at 215 so good chance he ends up dropping the few pounds to wrestle at 189.
“Cutting a little isn’t bad for you,” he remarked.
On the mat Atherton-Ely is full of confidence after making states a year ago.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It was an awesome experience. It just makes you want to work harder to get back there.”
It’s going to be a little tougher getting back due to the new super-regional, featuring wrestlers from powerhouse districts 11 and three, after the Northeast Regional Tournament. With only four kids going to Hershey out of the eastern half of the state there will be no easy paths.
“I just have to go out every match and wrestle the same,” said Atherton-Ely. “As hard as you can. There are a lot of talented kids down there. It’ll show if you’ve been working.”
After last year’s tournament Atherton-Ely knows he has to work on getting off bottom.
“That was my weakest point last year,” he remarked.
But he also saw a lot of his likely competition for this year.
“I know some of the kids who will be around where I am,” he said. “I wrestled them last year at districts and regionals. I’ll just take away a little bit from how I wrestled them last year.”
Third senior Landis has big goals this year, too.
“I’m really hoping I make it to Hershey, considering it’s my final year,” he said. “But, at least, the regional qualifiers. I think I can make it there, too.”
He was a North Section Champion at 106 a year ago but fizzled out in the district tournament. This year he should start out at 120 before possibly dropping to 113.
“I cut from around 130, so I’m at 120 right now,” he explained. “I mean, I’m a little bit weak, but I’m still strong where I am. I’m not too worried.”
He plans on letting the season play out some before he drops down.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “If I start losing quicker then I’ll cut down as soon as I can.”
Landis has been working a lot on his feet and on bottom.
“That’s what I’ve struggled with the past few years,” he said.
The discombobulated off-season may have made things more open this season, both in dual meets and in the individual tournaments, but everything in the Northern Tier still goes through Warrior Country.
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