Zach Smith ignites Honesdale comeback bid in non-league win over Mohawks

Two weeks ago, Zach Smith became just the sixth wrestler in Hornet history to earn membership in the ultra-exclusive 100-Win Club.

Since then, though, Smith has struggled a bit. Zach had lost his last two bouts and was champing at the bit to get back on the winning track.

"I feel for the kid," said Coach Ryan Chulada, himself a former standout wrestler at both Honesdale and Bloomsburg University.

"This is his senior season and he wants to go out in a blaze of glory."

On Tuesday night, Smith led his Hornets out onto the mat for a non-league battle with Wilkes Barre Meyers. Maple city fans saw the Mohawks build an early double-digit lead, but Smith turned the tide.

With his team trailing 21-4, Zach strode to the mat and utterly destroyed his opponent at 170. Smith needed all of 45 seconds to pin Sam Blankenship and halve the deficit.

For Meyers, this was the beginning of the end.

Smith's clamp ignited a run in which Honesdale scored 36 unanswered points en route to a 40-20 victory.

"I really think Zach went out there tonight looking to make a statement," Coach Chulada said. "It was important for Zach to bounce back with a dominant performance and he did."

With this win, Honesdale improved its overall record to 5-9 on the season. The Hornets now go on hiatus until February 13th when they pay a visit to Western Wayne.

The Wildcats are reigning District Two Class AA duals champs and looking to defend their title this weekend.

"I know that Western Wayne is a good team, but we're going to work hard and be ready for them," Coach Chulada said. "This is one of those local rivalries where the records get tossed out the window and anything goes."

This Lackawanna League Division I-II crossover match will get underway at 6:45 p.m. in the HHS gymnasium.

On the Mat

Meyers dominated the early portion of the match, winning the first three bouts and building an 11-0 lead.

Josh Taylor absorbed a 16-0 tech fall at 126, giving the Mohawks a 5-0 advantage. Evan Kennedy and Keegan Werner followed with courageous efforts, but each suffered a hard-fought loss.

Kennedy fell behind 4-0 in the first period at 132, but clawed his way back into the bout before coming out on the short end of a 4-3 final.

Werner also spotted his adversary an early lead and fought his way back. Keegan simply ran out of time in what became a heartbreaking 7-6 decision.

Trailing 11-0, Honesdale finally got on the board thanks to Eric Daniels. The Hornet senior dominated his bout at 145 and eventually posted a 12-4 major.

After Josh Burkavage sustained a 9-4 loss at 152, Logan Miller was pinned at 160. This gave Meyers a 20-4 bulge and set the stage for Honesdale's match- clinching run.

Mike Failla followed Smith to the mat with the crowd's roar still echoing in his ears. A senior in just his second year or organized wrestling, Failla came into the match with an 8-12 overall record.

On this night, though, Mike wrestled like a battle-tested veteran. He built a 4-0 lead after one period at 182, then brought the fans to their feet again with a pin just 15 seconds into the second period.

"Consistency is sometimes an issue with Mike, but boy did he show up with the right mentality tonight," said Coach Chulada. "He just manhandled that kid, which I was so happy to see."

Meyers was forced to hand over several forfeits in the upper weight divisions, which meant that Joe Walsh would wrestle the evening's final bout.

Still just a sophomore, Walsh is one of the most highly decorated grapplers to emerge from Honesdale's junior high program in recent years.

While he's endured a rollercoaster varsity campaign, Joe closed out this match with a bang.

Walsh wasted no time taking control at 106, registering a quick takedown on his way to a first period pin (1:05).

"Joe is a kid who's really coming on lately," said Coach Chulada. "He has enough ability that his goals should be to finish in the top four at districts and get to regionals this year.

"If Joe keeps working hard, he's going to have a very bright future in the sport."