The Fairfield junior's hopes seemed lost with seconds remaining in his preliminary round bout at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships on Thursday. Flohr trailed by three points in his 152-pound match against Muncy's Zach Strickland -- the Northeast region's top seed and a favorite to medal.
With about ten seconds left, Flohr attempted a maneuver he learned a year ago but had never hit in competition -- a version of the tilt, a move in which a wrestler grabs his opponent's arm and attempts to create leverage to score points.
Call it desperation. Call it genius. Whichever it was, Flohr scored a takedown, three back points and, eventually, an out-of-nowhere, 6-4 decision.
During a chaotic morning of wrestling at Giant Center, the long shot from Fairfield -- who went two-and-done at these championships last year -- provided one of the day's most thrilling victories.
Four others YAIAA wrestlers won their preliminary matches Thursday and will join Flohr in today's Class AA quarterfinals at 8 a.m.: Bermudian Springs' Brad Farley (103 pounds), Delone Catholic's Tyler Small (125), Biglerville's Laike Gardner (125) and York Suburban's Ricardo Plummer (171).
Few matches Thursday equaled the excitement of Flohr's.
The junior -- who earned the fifth and final qualifying spot out of the Southeast region -- trailed 4-0 with 30 seconds to go to against Strickland (29-2).
Flohr (28-6) scored an escape with 26 seconds left and, after an injury stoppage, grabbed hold of Strickland's arm and went for the tilt.
Moments later, Flohr had a two-point edge with three seconds to go.
"Right there, I thought I lost," Flohr said of his late deficit. "But I didn't lose it mentally, because I still had time."
Delone's Small, the Southeast regional champ at 125 pounds, needed 3:23 to notch a 15-0, technical fall against Conemaugh Township's Tanner Cahill.
In the process, Small (37-4) atoned for his previous Giant Center follies. This was the senior's fourth trip to states, and his first win in preliminaries.
"It was good to get that out of the way," Small said. "I got two more, and then hopefully I'll be in the finals."
Two other regional winners also looked strong. Farley and Plummer moved on, with the former scoring a fall at 1:21 of his opening bout with Beth-Center's Zach Swarrow.
"I was a little nervous, but I was actually really excited," the sophomore Farley (36-1) said of his first state match. "I thought the brackets worked for me. I need to still wrestle tough and stuff, but I thought it looked good."
Meanwhile, the senior Plummer (32-3) looked strong in a 9-4 decision against Keystone Oaks' Michael Kazalas.
Gardner needed overtime to dispatch Cochranton's Matt Bryer. The Canners sophomore took down Bryer nine seconds into the extra session for an 11-9 victory.
"Every time I shot, I scored," Gardner said. "So I figured I should just knock him out there quick."
Six other YAIAA wrestlers lost their preliminary matches and dropped into the first-round of consolations, also held Thursday. Of those six, only York Suburban senior Stan Williams won his consolation match, scoring a 5-4 decision over Delone senior Joseph Kreiner at 215 pounds.
Kreiner and four other Class AA competitors went two-and-done: Delone's Joseph Byers (103), Bermudian's Dalton Anthony (140), Suburban's Jordan Knaub (152) and Fairfield's Dylan Ferguson (215).