TOWANDA — Veteran wrestler Zach Smith turned in a brilliant performance this past weekend at the Tandy Mini Mart Duals.
Honesdale's senior 170-pounder dominated his weight class, rolling to five wins in five bouts.
"Zach was just a beast out there," Coach Ryan Chulada said. "He's been much more aggressive on the mat this year, taking the fight to his opponent. Zach is really on a roll right now."
Smith recorded three falls and a pair of decisions. He was rewarded for his efforts with the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler Award. In addition, Zach posted the 100th win of his varsity careeer, a razor-thin 1-0 decision over Alexander Gular of Port Allegheny.
"I can't say enough good things about Zach," Coach Chulada said. "He's come so far as a wrestler in the past four years. Zach carries himself with a ton of confidence and I expect him to do some real damage this year at districts, regionals and beyond."
On the Mat
With Smith leading the charge, Honesdale traveled to Towanda Saturday for the Tandy Mini Mart Duals.
The Hornets struggled to a 2-3 record overall, but did manage to carve out a 4th place finish at an event that attracts elite programs from all over the state.
Honesdale opened with an impressive 42-30 victory over LaSalle Academy. The Red & Back followed that up with a loss to Port Allegheny (47-19).
The Hornets rebounded with a 42-30 victory over Bloomsburg, then suffered back-to-back losses against Mountoursville (39-29) and West Scranton (24-23).
"I know that 2-3 doesn't sound like a great weekend, but I was very happy to see the kids bounce back after what happened at Paupack," said Coach Chulada.
Page 2 of 3 - "We needed a wake-up call and I think maybe that was it."
Honesdale took on the Buckhorns Friday night in Hawley and absorbed an old-fashioned beatdown that resulted in a 46-22 Lackawanna League loss.
Smith didn't get a chance to wrestle in that one as the Bucks forfeited at 170.
However, he made up for this lost opportunity at the Mini Mart Duals.
Zach opened his tourney with a first period pin of LaSalle's Jacob Barker. The fall came at the 1:40 mark and helped spark the Red & Black to a double-digit win.
Next up was a bout that will likely go down as one of Smith's biggest wins of the regular season.
He squared off against Alexander Gular of Port Allegheny, a returning district champion who came into the meet ranked among PA's Top 20 at 170 lbs.
This one was as grueling as a high school bout can get and ended after three brutal periods with a 1-0 decision for Smith.
"That's quite a feather in Zach's cap," Coach Chulada said. "Those are the kinds of wins that generate some serious momentum as you head into all those post season tournaments."
Smith rode the wave of that momentum to three more solid wins.
Zach pounded out a 5-1 decision over Garrett Evans of Montoursville, then pinned both Bloomsburg's Nathat Wynings (:51) and West Scranton's Patrick Cooper (3:39).
"I think the thing that stands out about Zach this season is how he's stepped up as a team leader," Coach Chulada said. "He's really taken the bull by the horns and become much more vocal and assertive."
Smith has now reeled off seven consecutive wins and won eight of his last nine.
Page 3 of 3 - Overall, his record stands at 14-3 for the season. He is now just the 6th wrestler in Honesdale history to join the exclusive 100-Win Club with a mark of 100-39.
Josh Arnone, the Hornets' lone PIAA State Champion remains atop that all-time list with 156 career wins.
Kevin Mulligan (128), Joe Arnone (113), Ryan Smith (113) and Matt Evans (111) round out the roster.