LEHMAN TWP. – Kaleb Konigus and Damon Barhight are no strangers on the wrestling mat.
Two of the top Wyoming Valley Conference heavyweights met two more times in four days when the WVC held its tournament and got its Division 2 season underway.
Lake-Lehman’s Konigus beat Wyoming Area’s Barhight both times, giving Lake-Lehman its only conference tournament champion on the Black Knights’ home mats Sunday, then clinching a 45-25 victory Wednesday night to start their pursuit of a division title.
“I’ve had many matches with him over the years, about 10 since ninth grade,” Konigus said. “So, I’ve learned what he does and he learned what I do.
“You try to change it up and find something new.”
When he did, Konigus had his second pin in four days after the two had battled through close, low-scoring decisions in their previous four meetings.
“Barhight and Kaleb have some history,” said Lake-Lehman coach J.J. Konigus, Kaleb’s father. “That’s a good win for him.”
Wyoming Area 25
All three Konigus-Barhight bouts last season were decided by a single point, including two Konigus wins in overtime.
Konigus was protecting a 1-0 lead in the third period and division favorite Lake-Lehman was trying to fight off a comeback by Wyoming Area.
Suddenly, Konigus turned and pinned Barhight with 1:13 left.
“From last tournament, I knew weight-wise that I was bigger than him, so every time he took bottom I used my weight against him,” said Konigus, who had a 268-241 advantage. “ … Once I broke him down, I just used my weight and a power half and was able to turn him.”
The pin gave the Black Knights a 27-14 lead and, with two forfeits to come, secured their victory.
“It seems like we have a big target on our back,” Konigus said after the Black Knights improved to 3-0 overall in duals. “ … You know that people are coming after you and trying to take you out.
“You have to always prepare for the best possible opponent.”
Wyoming Area took its best shot Wednesday, winning three straight bouts to get within 18-13 and adding two quick pins right after the Konigus victory that could have presented a problem if the Black Knights did not take the 285-pound weight class.
The Black Knights had their own stretch of quick pins.
After Wyoming Area won a decision at 138 to begin the night, Hunter Burke won in 46 seconds, Jake Trumbower in 1:50 and Chase Button in 1:24 at 145, 152 and 160 pounds.
Burke and Trumbower join Zack Stuart and Nick Zaboski as freshmen with at least eight wins this season.
“The young guys are wrestling really well,” coach Konigus said. “All my ninth-graders are tough.”
Chuck Harry won at 220 to stop Wyoming Area’s momentum before Kaleb Konigus produced his pin.
“Wyoming Area has a tough lineup and they matched up well with us up top,” coach Konigus said.
Bobby Long capped the night with a 40-second pin at 132 pounds.
Steven Newell from Dallas and David Evans, Tommy Traver and Connor Munley from Tunkhannock joined Konigus as champions during the Jan. 7 WVC Tournament.
Traver earned his second straight Outstanding Wrestler award with his pin in 2:44 over Josh Brown from team champion Coughlin in the 138-pound final.
Tunkhannock placed second in the team standings, 15 points behind the Crusaders with 187.
Dallas was fourth with 129 points and Lake-Lehman took sixth with 121.
Newell pinned Wyoming Area’s Corey Mruk in 1:41 in a 170-pound final that featured returning District 2 champions.
Kaleb Konigus pinned Barhight in 2:36 at 285 pounds.
Evans won a major decision over Cadden Kucek of Wyoming Valley West at 106 pounds. Munley pinned Coughlin’s Jake Cole with four seconds left in the 182-pound final.
Dallas also got third-place finishes from Kade Kravits (145), Nick Solinsky (152) and Shawn Henniger (285). Liam Farrell (113) and Jon Betzko (160) took fifth.
Bobby Long (126) and Hunter Burke (138) were third while Zach Stuart (120) and T.J. Meehan (195) were fifth for Lake-Lehman.
Tunkhannock sent five wrestlers to the finals.
Gavin D’Amato lost a one-point decision in the 132-pound final and Sam Rice took second at 195.
David Gavek, at 120, and Jake Stephens, at 220, were third for the Tigers. Ethan Munley (126) and Brian Christ (152) were fifth.
Tunkhannock remained even with Hazleton Area and Coughlin by improving to 2-0 and knocking host Dallas (2-1) out of the WVC Division 1 lead Wednesday night.
Tommy Traver continued this big week, posting a technical fall at 138 for his 100th career victory and completing a Tunkhannock sweep of the first six bouts for a 33-0 lead.
Matt Rosentel opened the night with a 21-second pin at 106, then Dave Evans and David Gavek followed with two more pins. Brian Christ and Connor Munley also had pins for the TIgers.
Kade Kravits, John Betzko, Steven Newell and Taylor Bolesta had pins to account for all the Dallas points.