To become a state medalist, you first must qualify for the state tournament.
Simple formula. . . on paper.
Fifteen Times Area wrestlers found that a direct path from Freedom High School to the Giant Center in Hershey is actually quite circuitous. None of the 15 were able to punch their state ticket on Friday night when Day 1 of the Class 2A Southeast Regional Tournament came to a close.
Five local grapplers won their respective opening bouts but were denied in the quarterfinals. Bermudian Springs’ Austin Anderson (121) and Hayden Yacoviello-Andrus (127), Biglerville’s Devan Ponce (139) and the Littlestown tandem of Cameron Mingee (139) and Tanner Rock (172) had their hands raised in the prelims before dropping their following bouts.
The good news for the area contingent is that 14 of the 15 return Saturday morning when action resumes at 9:30 a.m.
Finding a way to survive is nothing new for Littlestown’s small but mighty trio. Caden Rankin used a takedown with a minute left and then rode tight for a 4-3 consy win that means all three Bolts are still in the mix.
“Just one match at a time at this point,” said Ltown head coach Andrew Polashuk. “A lot of kids are ready to go home, let’s give them a reason. Hopefully we show up ready to wrestle our best.”
Bermudian went 3-for-3 in consy bouts to continue its late surge. All five Eagles – who are all underclassmen – remain in medal contention.
Yacoviello-Andrus came tantalizingly close to breaking through when he faced Arment Waltenbaugh of Faith Christian Academy in the quarters. The Berm freshman hit a textbook fireman’s carry to open the scoring with just :20 left in the first period. Waltenbaugh managed an escape to slice the small lead in half.
Following an escape, Waltenbaugh worked Russian ties in the middle frame while Yacoviello-Andrus tried to get to his set-ups.
With the bout squared at 2-2 into the third, Yacoviello-Andrus chose bottom and circled as Waltenbaugh appeared to get high on his ride. The Faith Christian sophomore was simply working a turn, however, and landed a pair of nearfall points at 1:15.
Yacoviello-Andrus got free and had 54 seconds left to find a potentially winning takedown but Waltenbaugh held his ground and took the 4-3 decision.
Cole Schisler (107), Austin Anderson (121), Reece Daniels (133) and Jakson Keffer (139) remain in the fight. Schisler won his consy bout by fall, while Daniels built an early lead before blocking a late throw to prevail. Keffer had the most dramatic win as he went into sudden victory with Tulpehocken’s Jonathon McQuillen. Keffer remained cool, countering a shot by hitting a cradle for a fall.
Anderson, Ponce and Rock were all pinned in the quarters while Mingee lost a 12-7 slugfest to Schuylkill Valley sophomore Ian Vitalo, the newly-minted District 3 champ.
Mingee fired off a deep double-leg shot only to see Vitalo counter with a reverse cradle that nearly ended things in a hurry. Down 5-0, Mingee pressed on but Vitalo turned the trick again moments later, again countering a quality shot for a takedown.
Mingee, the lone Times’ Area returning state qualifier among 2A wrestlers, found himself down 7-1 after two minutes of action. That deficit grew to 11-3 as Vitalo continued to smartly counter Mingee’s attacks.
The Bolt junior broke through in the third with another double-leg salvo, making it 11-5. He added a final takedown in the closing seconds before falling 12-7.
“Throw out first period and we might win that match,” Polashuk said. “Good chance we see him again at some point. He kept battling which is great to see.
“He’s hard on himself, but he wants to win. He’ll show up next match and go after it.”
Rock found himself opposite a returning state champ in Holden Garcia of Notre Dame-Green Pond. Garcia (37-6) rolled to a technical fall but Rock’s penchant for pinning makes him a threat in the consolations.
“He’s good naturally in weird positions, very good hips,” said Polashuk. “Ends up putting a lot of guys on their back.”
Biglerville kept its pack intact thanks to a consolation round pin by Brody Gardner at 114 and Mason Keiper’s stick at 215. Gardner trailed 2-0 before horsing Brandywine’s Jacob Greiss to his back in a vice-like cradle, and Keiper eliminated Fairfield freshman Lincoln Kearchner.
Ponce found tough sledding against Saucon Valley sophomore Jackson Albert in their quarterfinal clash. After taking a 2-0 lead it was all Albert thanks in large part to a sticky leg ride. The Panther pinned Ponce in 4:45 while holding an 8-2 lead.
Canners Joey Ney (145) and Seth Lady (152) are also alive in the consolations.
Fairfield senior Jonathan Anders went 0-1 on Friday but still has a shot at 285. Next up for Anders (16-5) is Hamburg senior Charles Sheppard (37-10). Anders will need to flip the script after losing to Sheppard by fall at the district tournament a week ago.
Follow Josh Martin on Twitter at @JoshMartin33
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