Three locals to wrestle for bronze at states
HERSHEY - Three local wrestlers will being going for bronze at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships today.
Canton's Garrett Wesneski (195), Athens' Brian Courtney (106) and Wyalusing's Dylan Otis (220) will all be wrestling for third place.
Williamson's Billy Barnes will be in the 145 pound championship bout.
The medals round begins at 2 p.m. today with the Parade Champions at 1:40 p.m. down at the Hershey Giant Center.
"Wrestling for third place is a great feeling," Otis remarked.
Earlier in the day Sullivan County's Shawn Nitcznski (126), Williamson's Trevor McWhorter (138), Canton's Connor Route (220) and Wyalusing's Dalton Chilson (285) were eliminated from the tournament.
Wesneski's match against top ranked Tristan Sponseller of Bermudian Springs in the semi-final went as he planned except for one thing: he lost.
Sponseller took an early lead but Wesneski got stronger as the match went on. Down 2-1 in the third Wesneski was able to be physical with Sponseller on bottom, pushing him around the mat. However, he couldn't turn him for the points he needed to get the win, ultimately losing by the 2-1 score.
"I gave up that takedown but I did a real good job
defensively," said Wesneski. "He got that one takedown at the edge where I had to give it up."
Sponseller took an early lead with a takedown in the first period, getting a single leg on Wesneski. The Canton senior did a full split to defend it but it wasn't enough as Sponseller got the other leg and the two points.
In the second Wesneski worked hard for the escape, getting out late in the period. He tried to jump behind Sponseller on the edge with two seconds to go but was out of bounds and didn't get the takedown.
Then in the third Wesneski went on top and did a good job breaking Sponseller down.
"I didn't think I was going to be able to break him down like I did," Wesneski said. "I think I physically beat him up for two minutes straight. I had the bar three or four times I just couldn't get him over."
With eight seconds left Wesneski nearly got him over but lost the grip.
Going toe to toe with the top ranked wrestler at his weight gives him confidence going forward.
"To be honest, if we wrestled 10 times we probably would split," Wesneski said.
In the fourth round consolations Wesneski saw a familiar foe in Benton's Logan Womelsdorf with an outcome that was just as familiar, a 5-0 win.
After a scoreless first Wesneski turned Womelsdorf for two points in the second.
Then starting on bottom in the third he scored another point when Womelsdorf was called for locked hands. Wesneski followed by scoring a reversal to secure the win.
Despite the setback in the semi-finals Wesneski feels good about wrestling for third.
"It feels good," he said. "I lost that tight one I really wanted, I was aiming for that all year but I bounced back. Got a big win, I don't think I've given up a legit point to (Womelsdorf) in the three matches we've wrestled. I'm going to try to end my senior year on a win, not everyone gets to do that. Go out on a bang, show everyone why the kid I just wrestled in the semis I should have met in the finals."
Wesneski used a strong second period, this time to beat United's Tyler Oliver 12-2, in the morning quarterfinals.
The Canton senior used a takedown in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
Then in the second he got a reversal followed by back to back near falls to take a 10-0 lead into the third period.
"I felt good that first period," Wesneski explained. "I don't like to feel people out, I kind of got after it. Right off the bat I felt I was a lot stronger than he was and more skilled. And then as the match went on I started racking up more points."
In the third Wesneski got another takedown to go up 12-0. Oliver would get a reversal when he was able to shake a Wesneski hold but nothing more.
In the third place bout Wesneski will face Valley's Marcus Davenport.
It took Courtney almost all of six minutes but he finally got the two point takedown he needed to beat Brockway's Ryan Carlson in the third round of consolations.
Courtney got the two points with 24 seconds left in the match, ultimately winning 2-0.
His fourth round consolation win over Chestnut Ridge's Aaron Burkett was just as exciting.
Courtney kept the first period scoreless with a strong whizzer.
Then in the second Burkett took a 1-0 lead with an escape.
Courtney returned the favor in the third but Burkett followed with a takedown to go up 3-1.
Then late in the period Courtney was able to shed Burkett and get the reversal to send it into overtime.
"I knew I needed to get a reversal," he said.
In sudden victory it was Courtney getting the takedown for the win and a trip to the third place bout.
"I could tell he was getting tired," he remarked.
The freshman is happy to be wrestling for his first state medal today.
"It feels pretty good," Courtney said about being in the third place bout. "I wanted a state championship, third's not too bad either."
Courtney will take on Lancaster Catholic's Joe Lobeck in the third place bout.
His opening round loss to Bethlehem Catholic's Jake Riegel doesn't look bad at all considering Riegel is in the state final.
"It stinks because I could have beaten that kid," Courtney said. "I had one off match."
Courtney controlled the pace in his 3-1 win over Muncy's Angelo Barberio in the second round of consolations in the morning session.
Courtney pushed the pace throughout, getting Barberio in several precarious positions in the first and second periods but couldn't get the takedown.
Leading 1-0 to start the third off a second period escape Courtney looked like he was going to be able to ride Barberio out but with 10 seconds left Barberio tied it up with an escape.
"I had to hold him down, try and turn him and hopefully a pin," was Courtney's plan in the final period. "I wasn't worried because I knew in overtime I could push the pace to score but it was nice to get those two at the end."
However, Courtney was able get the takedown with two seconds left in the match to ensure himself a medal.
Despite beating Barberio before he knew it was going to be a tough match.
"I can't really look past anyone," Courtney said. "Anything can happen."
Otis dominated Bermudian Springs' Sam McCollum to a 6-0 win in the third round of consolations.
He used a first period takedown then added back points in the second to go up 5-0. In the third he got an escape to make it a 6-0 final.
In the fourth round consolations Otis was even more dominant, pinning Kittanning's Jacob Robb in 1:33.
He went up 2-0 with a takedown but Robb got the escape to cut it to 2-1.
Starting on top Otis went to his favorite move, getting a left arm bar on Robb. He was able to run that and get Robb on his back, then squeezed him tight for the fall.
"You can't just pin anyone at states," Otis said. "It's states, there's 16 other guys in the state at your weight in the state, you can't pin anyone so it's a good momentum getter. It's a good one."
Earlier in the day Otis nearly knocked off the undefeated Jake Temple of Avella in his 3-2 loss in the quarterfinals.
Otis came close to getting a lead in the first period as he was able to get to Temple's leg on a shot but couldn't get the takedown.
In the second Temple was able to use an escape and takedown of his own to go up 3-0. Otis began to cut into the lead with an escape, cutting it to 3-1 going into the final period.
In the third Otis got another escape to cut it to 3-2. After pushing the pace most of the third he almost got a takedown with eight seconds left but was out of bounds. Temple was able to hold on for the narrow decision.
"I was pushing the action hard," explained Otis. "He's an undefeated wrestler, he's a good wrestler, he's not undefeated for no reason. We were both pushing the action and taking shots. It's what happens when you've got two good kids butting heads. I knew I wrestled a great match, just came up on the short end of the stick. Just need to keep the momentum going, just keep wrestling that way."
In the wrestlebacks Otis handled Pine Grove's Ryan Martin for a 3-0 win.
After two scoreless periods to start Otis scored an escape to start third. Martin came after him hard but Otis kept his bearings and was able to slide around a Martin shot to get the match winning takedown.
"I just wanted to dominate," Otis said about the wrestlebacks. "Don't let anyone take what's yours. When I dropped down I didn't want to get stopped."
It was on day two last year where things fell apart for Otis, losing in the quarters and then the second round consolations.
"It's a good feeling to know I made it one step further than last year, I'm going to get a place this year," Otis said.
Otis will be Wyalusing's first state medalist since Tyler Crawford in 2008.
Otis will face Bethlehem Catholic's Andrew Dunn in the third place bout and has one goal: dominate.
Nitcznski lost to Bethlehem Catholic's Zeke Moisey in the quarterfinals and Valley's Patrick Dewitt in the wrestlebacks.
In the quarters Moisey got four straight takedowns in the first period on Nitcznski en route to a fall in 1:05.
Then in the second round of consolations Dewitt scored takedowns in the first and third periods to win 5-2.
Nitcznski ends his high school career as the all time wins leader at Sullivan County.
McWhorter struggled to get his offense going in his 6-2 loss to Bethlehem Catholic's Mike Libriola.
Libriola jumped out to a 3-0 lead but McWhorter cut it to 3-2 with a third period takedown. Libriola then got the escape followed by another takedown to earn the win.
Route was pinned in his quarterfinals loss to Kittanning's Jacob Robb then lost by a 5-2 decision to Conneaut Area's Connor Overman 7-3.
In the quarters Robb controlled the match early, getting a 4-1 lead but Route cut it to 4-3 with an escape.
In the second Robb was able to extend his lead to 7-3 before getting the fall on Route in 4:54.
In the wrestlebacks Overman went up 3-0 before Route got on the board with an escape in the third. Overman then got another takedown to secure the win 5-2.
Chilson had one of the shortest and longest matches of the day of any local.
In the quarters he was pinned by Burrell's Allan Beattie in 48 seconds.
Then in the wrestlebacks his match with Reynolds' Gene Ringer went to tie breaker as both were tied 1-1 after the three periods.
Beattie scored a reversal to go up 3-1. When Chilson went down he got an escape but couldn't get the takedown for the win.