WILKES-BARRE – Zachary Briggs sat near the back wall of the Kingston Armory, slapping hands with teammates after his 170-pound title Feb. 27.
For Briggs, though, this is only the first step in a journey that he hopes ends in the sweetest place on Earth.
Briggs was nearly perfect en route to a District 2 Class 2A title, and was joined on top of the medal podium by teammate Kendrick Beyer, who won the 126-pound tile.
In total, four Warriors will head to Williamsport High School this weekend for the PIAA Class 2A Northeast Regional tournament. Joining Briggs and Beyer will be Patrick Heck, runner-up at 132, and Adam Buczynski, a third-place finisher at 182.
Meyers, which crowned three champs, won the team title with 216.5 points. Western Wayne (170.5), Lake-Lehman (169.5), Hanover Area (154) and Wyoming Area (127.5) rounded out the top 5.
“This is my senior year, so there were no nerves because I’ve been through it before. I just wanted to go out there and do what I do best,” Briggs said. “I’ve been hitting moves I never thought I would hit. And with a 31-3 record, I feel pretty great.”
Goals and hopes.
That’s the way Briggs reflected after his victory – his second District 2 title.
Yes, an honor to become a two-time district titlist and join some elite company.
But still, plenty of work to be done.
“I want to get to Hershey, and get my 100 wins. I am only four away. I’ve been working hard, and it looks like it’s paying off,” Briggs said.
The senior showed his dominance. He had falls over Western Wayne’s Tyler Atcavage (2:27) and Meyers’ Isaac Mensah (4:41) to earn the berth against top-seed Bruce Parola of Scranton Prep
It was a match he controlled, rolling to a 7-2 victory.
“I didn’t feel like I wrestled great in the finals,” Briggs said. “I wasn’t capitalizing on my shots. I just need to work on my motion, which I’ll do all week. Mentally, I feel like I’m ready. Physically, I need a little bit more cardio.”
Beyer, a junior, took a similar path. He decked Blue Ridge’s Tom Gudykunst in just 57 seconds, and pinned Lehman’s Dylan Meehan in the third period to earn the final berth at 126.
There, he scored a first-period takedown of Western Wayne’s James Maloy and never looked back in a 4-1 decision.
“I’m happy I finally won a district title. It feels like it took me forever,” Beyer said. “I was in position two years ago to win a district title but I had to face the famous Austin Harry, and well, it didn’t turn out too well for me. I’m just going to take it one match at a time, and hopefully, I’ll make a run at it like Charlie (Johnson) did. I’ve pushed myself in the offseason, and we have a good coaching staff.”
Heck, who scored his 100th win Friday night in a 16-1 tech fall over Prep’s Micky Welsh, ran into Valley View’s Brett Uhrin in the final. After a scoreless first period, Uhrin chose down and got the reversal. It was all he would need in a 5-0 victory. The Cougar earned the top seed in the upcoming regional tournament this weekend.
Buczynski also reached the semifinal round, losing a slim, one-point bout to Lehman’s Tom Williams – the eventual champion at 182. A first-period fall of Blue Ridge’s Chris Graf put the Warrior junior into the third-place match where he earned an 8-1 win over Meyers’ Colin Browne.
Two other local athletes also earned trips to regionals.
Avoca’s Ivan and Thor Balavage, wrestlers at Scranton Prep, are both heading to Williamsport.
Ivan, the top seed at 182, lost to Williams in the championship after the Lehman wrestler escaped with 10 seconds left in the bout for the 5-4 victory.
Thor became a two-time district champ, defeating top-seeded Mike Sliviniski of Lehman, 3-2, in a ride-out. As a result, the Prep senior earned the No. 1 seed at 220 in this weekend’s event.