Two regional champs, eight NTL wrestlers reach states
WILLIAMSPORT - After being shutout in districts, the NTL could only go up at regionals.
Two NTL wrestlers broke through won a Northeast Regional championship while eight total wrestlers will be headed to states.
Troy's Ethan Calkins (113) and North Penn's Ben Minnich (170) won titles while Williamson's Billy Barnes (145) and Wyalusing's Dylan Otis (220) were runners up.
Wyalusing's Colin Edsell (120), Williamson's Logan Everett (126) and Trevor McWhorter (132) and Canton's Garrett Wesneski (182) won their third place matches to advance.
Three local wrestlers came up short as Troy's Nick Stephani (152), Sayre's Kyle Post (160) and North Penn's Nathan Kriner (285) fell in the consolation finals.
Calkins' win over GAR's A.J. Luton was nip and tuck the entire way.
The first period went by scoreless as Calkins was able to defend off a couple Luton shots.
"That was the game plan going in," Calkins said about his strong defense. "Me and my coach decided that I really needed to work on defending the shots because he's going to take a lot of shots. If I could defend them I would be in a good spot to win the match."
In the second Calkins got on the board first with an escape then made it 3-0 off a takedown.
Luton cut it to 3-1 off an escape late in the second.
In the third Luton made it 3-2 with an escape then went up 4-3 with a takedown. Calkins sent into overtime with an escape with 20 seconds left.
"At that point I knew I didn't have to score," he said about tying it up. "I could take it into overtime and win it there. That was my plan."
In the extra period Luton looked to get the takedown but Calkins once again defended it well and was able move on to of Luton, turning the tables for a 6-4 win.
"He almost had the takedown," Calkins said. "I don't even know what happened, I just kind of rolled through and came out on top."
In overtime the District IV fans were behind Calkins against the District II champion.
"I've probably never had that many people cheering for me at one time," explained Calkins. "It felt amazing hearing everyone cheering for me."
Calkins was surprised about his success.
"I didn't exactly I would know I would accomplish on my states," he explained. "But it makes everything better."
Calkins defeated Warrior Run's Eric Hunt 4-2 this time around after losing to him in the semi-finals at districts.
"Last time I didn't finish my shots," Calkins remarked. "All this week in practice I worked on finishing my shots. I did that a lot today and it really helped me out."
This win gives Ethan bragging rights at home over his brother Braden who was also a state qualifier but not a regional champion.
"It feels great," he said. "He's my biggest fan now it always feels good having the bragging rights in the family."
At 170 Minnich fell down early to South Williamsport's Justin Knee but quickly took control of the match beginning in the second period.
Down 3-2 the Panther scored an escape to knot it up, then followed it up with a takedown to go up 5-3. Knee scored an escape to make it 5-4.
In the final period Minnich out scored Knee 5-2 to secure North Penn's first regional champion.
"It feels really good," Minnich said about being the champion.
Minnich came up short last week and used that as motivation.
"I didn't like getting all the way to the finals and choking," he explained. "This time I wanted to finish strong."
Winning by four points is a confidence booster for Minnich.
"It felt good," he said. "I just tried to keep it neutral and keep taking him down. He was tough, I felt like I had to fight for every point. You just have to keep hammering him."
The Panther will be shooting for a medal next week.
"I want to wrestler smarter matches," Minnich said. "Not giving up takedowns like the first one. Not working so hard for points I don't have to, just a smarter game."
It wasn't lost on him that he was North Penn's first champion in their short history.
"It's nice to have something I know I'm the first to do," he said.
He also predicts big things for the Panthers in the coming years.
"We got a bunch of really strong younger guys," Minnich said. "I feel like the next few years were going to build up to a really strong team."
At 145 Williamson's Billy Barnes gave Benton's Colt Cotten everything he could handle.
Barnes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period after scoring a takedown.
"It felt good but I knew it wasn't going to be enough," Barnes said about taking that first period lead. "
In the second Cotten made it 2-1 with an escape.
Cotten let Barnes up in the third to give the Warrior a 3-1 lead but a Cotten takedown with 11 seconds to go knotted things up.
"I knew he was going to come back with that high cross so I tried to defend against that," Barnes explained.
In the overtime it was Cotten who scored the defining takedown.
"I had to score more points get after it more but I kind of laid back," Barnes said about the second half of the match.
"I just want to move on and do it again next week."
The sophomore was still pumped about his first state berth.
"It's pretty awesome," Barnes said about going to states.
Last year a late call kept him from going to states during the regional tournament.
"Learn from your mistakes," Barnes remarked. "I worked harder in the mat room this year. Just go out there and take it to them."
He would like to see Cotten again but this time in a state final.
"I'm pushing for the finals," Barnes said. "I want a state title and that's what I'm going to put my goal to."
At the 220 pounds Wyalusing's Dylan Otis wasn't able to get his offense going as he fell to Lewisburg's Brandon Smith 5-0.
Making the final relaxed Otis a bit.
"It gave me a little breathing room," he said. "I can breathe now and the finals are just a whole different tournament."
Facing off against Smith Otis knew it was going to be tough.
"My mind set was pretty much just battle," Otis remarked. "I know he's good but good things happen when you battle. That was my mindset. He's good with positioning. Good kids like that its kind of hard to start your offense."
It was a good measuring stick for Otis.
"I don't like to lose but I know he's good," he said. "I closed the score gap from last match so hopefully if I see him at states I will bring it out the other way this time."
Regardless, the sophomore is excited to be going to states after just missing out last year.
"I'm ready, I'm ready to go," Otis remarked.
Otis' cousin Colin Edsell controlled Montgomery's Kobe Galentine for a 3-1 decision to advance.
It was the freshman's goal to make it to the state tournament.
"I just feel like all that hard works finally paying off," Edsell said.
Now he's going to have to re-examine his goals.
"Now coach just told me to step it up one more time and place it at states," Edsell said. "I just want to work on my offense on my feet. Other than that I'm ready to go."
He's also excited to be joining his cousin down at Hershey.
"Me and him have been wrestling together for a while," Edsell said about Otis.
"We wrestle in the off season and it feels awesome to be going," Otis added about Edsell joining him.
At 126 Everett was able to rebound from a semi-final loss to beat Montoursville's Keith Batkowski 7-0.
It's not how Everett wanted to get there, though. Last week he fell in the district final, this week he needed a third place win to secure his spot but he's not going to let that get him down.
"It's a clean slate next week to really give yourself an opportunity to make a run," Everett said.
The senior will be looking to get his offense going more next week.
"I have a good offense and I feel I really need to work on that," Everett said. "I've been kind of been sitting back with it and it's been costing me matches, big matches."
Part of his malaise he trumps up to his mentality as well, wrestling not to lose instead of to win.
"If you're scared to lose things like that are going to happen," he said. "I think that's what's going. Try and score some points and open it back up."
Everett's teammate McWhorter used a late reversal after two second period back points to rally past Blue Ridge's Zach Edwards 4-2.
"I finally know what it feels like being here and just making it," McWhorter said about making states.
McWhorter wanted to stay positive no matter what happened this weekend.
"If you keep the mindset that you're going to win good things are going to happen," he said.
McWhorter will be looking to place next week.
Nobody was more excited about this then Everett.
"It's awesome," he said. "I'm more excited for Trevor than my self."
Wesneski once again fought Warrior Run's Garrett Mosier to a 3-2 overtime win.
Tied 2-2 neither one was able to get that defining takedown in the first overtime.
"I wasn't going to rush anything," Wesneski explained. "When I lost week in the semis to him, I shot him, didn't finish my shot. He's got really good defense, so I knew I had to wrestle smart."
Wesneski was able to get the escape in the next period, then rode Mosier out for the win.
That wasn't the junior's plan, though.
"He has a strong base," Wesneski said. "I was trying to get my tilt, whenever I got in he just got his elbow out. It is what is I guess."
No matter as the Warrior will be making his first trip to Hershey.
"This is awesome," Wesneski remarked. "This is what I've worked for since I was little. I knew it was going to be hard being up top with (Troy) Hembury but I just kept my composure and came back through."
Stephani fell to Hughesville's Kyle Barnes 4-2, Post lost 4-2 to Montgomery's Isaiah Bobotas, Daugherty fell to Western Wayne's Conner Rosensweet 3-2 and Kriner lost to Southern Columbia's Jake Becker 5-1.
The state tournament will begin next Thursday at Hershey.