13th seeds aren’t really supposed to make the semifinals of the District 11 3A wrestling tournament.
They certainly are not supposed to post two pins to get there.
And they are certainly not supposed to deck the fourth and fifth seeds to do it.
But don’t tell Freedom freshman 106-pounder Connor Huber that.
“I’m pretty satisfied with how I wrestled today,” said Huber after Friday's session at Liberty's Memorial Gym.
He should have been.
Huber pinned No. 4 seed Domenic Vicario of Bangor in 1 minute and 5 seconds in a preliminary then packed No. 5 seed Attkios Clifford of Central Catholic in 5:45 to reach the Saturday semifinal round (10:30 a.m), where he’ll meet No. 1 seed Andrew Cerniglia of Nazareth.
Huber is the lowest-seeded wrestler in the semifinals
Huber is one of five Freedom wrestlers in the semis, along with seniors Tommy Bonilla (152), Ryan DeLoach (182) and Evan Callahan (220) and sophomore Jase Crouse (285). The Patriots, with 94 team points, stand in fifth, behind Northampton in third at 99.5.
Freedom coach Brandon Hall liked Huber’s aggressiveness and wasn’t surprised at his 13th seed’s performance.
“As soon as we saw the seedings we thought Connor should be in the semifinals,” Hall said. “We felt comfortable saying that, given the competition we wrestle and our schedule.”
And the pins weren’t a surprise to anyone who knows Huber. He said mat wrestling is his strong point and it showed as he radiated control when on top.
But, of course, you have to get on top first, and in December that was an issue for Huber.
“My brother (Ben, Freedom’s junior 138-pounder) told me I really needed to improve in neutral,” Connor Huber said.
So did Hall.
“We told him that not being better on his feet was going to prevent him from being the wrestler he could be and that he was missing opportunities,” Hall said. “He was kind of stubborn about it at first. We had to tell him this wasn’t junior high any longer and he couldn’t just hang on on top.”
While Huber will tell you he has a ways to go to be as good on his feet as he hopes to be, he has come a long way.
“Connor has improved tremendously on his feet over the last month,” said Freedom assistant Colin Ackerman, the former Williams Valley head coach who works with Huber in the room. “He’s more confident on his feet, and we have been teaching him moves like dumps and drags that fit his style. And when he gets better on his feet, that opens up more things for him to on top. If he’s winning 6-2 after the first period, we might put him on top.”
As for his bottom prowess, Huber put it simple: “I keep moving. I never stop.”
It all started to come together in January, Huber said, when he pinned Silas Patton of Damascus (Md.) in the War on the Shore tournament, where Huber came in sixth.
“He was supposed to be pretty good,” Huber said.
But not as good as Freedom’s 13th-seeded semifinalist – Connor Huber.
Brad Wilson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bradwsports. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.
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