The first third of the high school wrestling season is already gone, and in these parts, the big story has been how talented, but thin, a pair of area teams are.

Line Mountain and Southern Columbia each boast three wrestlers ranked in the top six at their weight classes in the Pa. Power Wrestling Northeast Regional AA rankings, and each team has three or four other competitive wrestlers, and well, that's about it.

Injuries, kids not coming out and a lack of wrestlers to fill the smaller weights have resulted in each team having to forfeit lots of bouts.

Line Mountain, a perennial power, would be still if the Eagles could field a whole lineup. The Eagles forfeited six bouts in a recent loss, something that would have been inconceivable in the mid-1990s. Southern Columbia also has four or five weights it can't fill on a nightly basis.

The Tigers are missing 285-pounder Trent Donlan, who was told to take the season off to rest a shoulder injury which caused him to miss all of last track and field season. Donlan was 20-9 as a freshman. Line Mountain misses Kenny Rothermel, a district qualifier who was 27-14 last year and 62-50 for his career. He decided to skip his senior season on the mats, mostly because he was tired of the grind of cutting weight from what we've heard.

Meanwhile, Mount Carmel and Shamokin Area are having a better time of filling out their lineups, albeit with some inexperienced wrestlers. Mount Carmel has had only two dual meets and will get an incomplete at this point. Shamokin is still a way off from recent years, but the Indians are 6-8 after last season's rough 2-18 and look to be on the right track.

As for the rankings, Line Mountain's Cameron Newman (113), Seth Lansberry (145) and Erik Smeltz (182) are there for the Eagles, and Kent Lane (126), freshman Blake Marks (152) and Jake Becker (220) for the Tigers, along with Mount Carmel's Seth Stablewski (285). Newman, Lansberry and Lane are all returning state qualifiers, with Lansberry finishing seventh at 132.

Among the ranked wrestlers are three returning state champions plus 12 other wrestlers who were placewinners at the state meet.

The top four in each class, plus area wrestlers, for each weight are as follows, with records through New Year's Day in most cases:

106: 1. Zackary LeBarron, Warrior Run,, fr., 10-0; 2. Brian Friery, Lewisburg, fr., 8-0; 3. Angelo

Barberio, Muncy, fr., 16-3; 4. Kyle Drick, Montgomery, jr., 9-2.

113: 1. Cameron Newman, Line Mountain, soph., 9-4; 2. Taylor Johnson, Central Columbia, soph., 10-0; 3. Tyrus Hamblin, Williamson, jr., 12-1; 4. Corey Stauffer, Midd-West, soph., 10-0.

120: 1. Shawn Nitcznski, Sullivan County, jr., 9-1; 2. A.J. Luton, GAR, jr., 8-0; 3. Cooper Wagner, Mifflinburg, fr., 8-2; 4. Steve Shannon, Central Columbia, soph., 15-4.

126: 1. Matt Welliver, Benton, sr., 11-5; 2. Kent Lane, Southern Columbia, soph., 7-0; 3. Andy Schutz, Wyoming Area, sr., 2-1; 4. Andrew Gipe, South Williamsport, sr., 9-3.

132: 1. Cole Walter, Mifflinburg, soph., 7-0; 2. Logan Everett, Williamson, sr., 13-0; 3. Austin Harry, Lake-Lehman, jr., 7-0; 4. Zack Bennett, Milton, soph., 8-5.

138: 1. Zain Retherford, Benton, sr., 16-0; 2. Demetri Probst, Bucktail, soph., 6-0; 3. Jesse Shannon, Central Columbia, sr., 17-1; 4. Justin Elick, Meyers, sr., 6-2.

145: 1. Colt Cotten, Benton, sr., 13-5; 2. Seth Lansberry, Line Mountain, sr., 12-1; 3. Billy Barnes, Williamson, soph., 13-0; 4. Taylor Porter, Milton, sr., 11-5.

152: 1. Kyle Barnes, Hughesville, sr., 11-1; 2. Ryan Preisch, Milton, jr., 8-3; 3. Zach Heeter, Midd-West, sr., 14-1; 4. Blake Marks, Southern Columbia, fr., 7-0.

160: 1. Jeric Kasunic, Benton, jr., 9-4; 2. Dakota Nixon, Hughesville, soph., 12-1; 3. Nick Rohm, Warrior Run, sr., 8-2; 4. Max Reed, Lewisburg, soph., 10-0.

170: 1. Ty Walter, Mifflinburg, sr., 7-0; 2. Daniel Breech, Warrior Run, jr., 9-2; 3. Garrett Evans, Montoursville, sr., 4-3; 4. Ben Minnich, North Penn, sr., 9-2.

182: 1. Troy Hembury, Muncy, sr., 16-1; 2. Erik Smeltz, Line Mountain, sr., 16-4; 3. Robert White, Hughesville, jr., 11-4; 4. Garrett Moser, Warrior Run, sr., 7-2.

195: 1. Ryan Solomon, Milton, sr., 13-0; 2. Garrett Wesneski, Canton, jr., 8-0; 3. Skylar Ebner, Muncy, sr., 14-5; 4. Virgil Burns, Western Wayne, sr., 6-0.

220: 1. Brandon Smith, Lewisburg, sr., 6-1; 2. Eric McCracken, Central Columbia, sr., 15-2; 3. Connor Rosensweet, Western Wayne, sr., 7-3; 4. Jake Becker, Southern Columbia, sr., 7-0.

285: 1. Nazar Mironenko, Mifflinburg, jr., 7-0; 2. Nathan Kriner, North Penn, sr., 8-2; 3. Alex Shiber, Central Columbia, sr., 18-1; 4. Austin Fielder, Warrior run, sr., 6-3; 5, Seth Stablewski, Mount Carmel, sr., 5-2.

(Souders covers high school wrestling for The News-Item)