The Eagle grapplers set goals of breaking the school record for wins, wrestling three days in the PIAA Class AA Team Championships and reaching the medal round. They accomplished the first with their 28th win of the season, which came Saturday morning in a 32-29 third-round victory over Pen Argyl, and the second just by competing in that match.
They fell short of the final mark with a 32-24 loss to Brookville in the fourth round of the consolation bracket Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey. They needed just one more win to reach the medal round.
"I'm proud of these guys," Eagles coach Dave McCollum said. "We came up here and won three out of five matches against quality teams. I know they're disappointed. They wanted a medal. I think these kids have a lot to be proud of."
His team finished the season at 28-4, and the four losses came against teams that finished in the top four at the state tournament: Bethlehem Catholic (one), Boiling Springs (two) and Brookville (one). It also was the last Class AA team ranked second in its district to be eliminated.
Eagles senior Brad Farley and sophomore Tristan Sponseller each finished the tournament 5-0. Farley, who is 31-0, had a technical fall and three pins in a total of 2 minutes, 42 seconds, and Sponseller received two forfeits and secured three pins in 5:06.
"Bradley, I think this is the best he's looked in four years," McCollum said. "I hope he can stay focused and keep it going. I think Sponseller has got the potential to be real tough at 182 (pounds)."
The match against Brookville started with Trey Constable earning a 7-3 decision against Teddy Marines to put the Eagles in a 3-0 hole, but Farley pinned Brady Mineweaser in just 27 seconds to build a 6-3 lead.
Brookville, the District 9 champion, then scored 20 of the next 23 points, a stretch of seven consecutive wins, to take a 23-9 lead. The final of those was a 5-2 decision by Brett Smith over Bermudian Springs' Tyler Fitzkee at 170.
Fitzkee finished the tournament 2-3 after dropping down to about 164 pounds in an attempt to reach 162 for next weekend's District 3 Class AA Section I Tournament.
"He was definitely feeling the weight loss the first match (in the tournament)," McCollum said. "It's a big adjustment for him. He definitely got better as the tournament went on. He'll be much stronger next week because of what he went through this week. A guy like him, he doesn't have any body fat. He's got to dehydrate himself."
Sponseller received a forfeit at 182 to bring the Eagles to 23-15 against Brookville, and Brock Linebaugh won a 3-1 tiebreaker decision to bring them within five, 23-18, with three bouts left.
After the Eagles' Jose Arriola was pinned at 220, heavyweight Jonathan Jimenez lost a 4-3 decision to give Brookville a 32-18 lead.
"He knew we needed six," McCollum said. "That's a tough spot to be in. He was wrestling for the team."
Jimenez didn't wrestle in the Eagles' third-round match against Pen Argyl because his team had already built a big lead behind a strong run by their lightweights. Dalton Becker earned a pin at 106, Farley earned an 18-2 technical fall in 5:00, Briton Shelton won a 4-3 decision, and Austin Jackson followed with a 2-0 decision to give the Eagles a commanding 17-4 lead.
Pen Argyl, the District 11 runner-up, could only come within six points three times over the rest of the match until the final forfeit drew it within three, 32-29.
The Eagles next wrestle at home in Saturday's sectional tournament.
"It's going to be some interesting matchups," McCollum said. "It's going to be a war between us and Biglerville."
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