In three matchups between Renninger and Lancaster Catholic freshman Joe Lobeck, Renninger dropped a 4-0 decision in January in a match, then lost 10-1 in the third-place bout at the L-L wrestling tournament and finally a 2-0 decision last week in sectionals. Friday at the District Three Class AA wrestling tournament at Hersheypark Arena, Renninger finally got on the board with a defensive pin late in the third period.
Renninger, trailing in the match 6-4 at the time, got a hold of Lobeck's foot and arm, leaned back and got the defensive pin to advance to today's semifinals against Upper Dauphin's Coy Campbell (24-11), the champion out of Section I.
"He's on top, and I sat out, stepped on his foot, grabbed his arm and pressured back into him," said Renninger, describing the closing seconds of the match. "I was looking for the pin.
"I was trying to keep it close throughout the whole match, and I knew inside my head I had to beat him," continued Renninger on wanting to finally beat Lobeck. "It was getting closer and closer every year. I was ready to beat him."
Annville-Cleona, which sits sixth in team points after day one with 38, will send a trio into this morning's 9 a.m. semifinals. Joining Renninger (33-9) will be 132-pound sophomore Jeffrey Inman (37-2) and 160-pound junior Justin Ulrich (23-13). Also joining them in the semifinals will be Elco's Zach Bankus (30-9) at 152 pounds.
It was also a breakthrough day for Palmyra's Evan Bogdan in the AAA field as he used last year's early exit as ammunition to punch his ticket to the semifinals with a 6-1 win over Section I champion Wyatt Binkley of Greencastle-Antrim and then an 8-2 win over Exeter's Brett Kulp.
"It's great. I mean, I've worked for it every day since I got knocked out last year," Bogdan said after his victory over Kulp. "It's great to show that the hard work pays off."
Bogdan picked up five takedowns in the two bouts, showing his dominance on his feet, something he was planning on doing coming into the action.
"I knew that I needed to get the quick takedown early," Bogdan said of his mindset entering the day. "I needed to continue to take him down through the match to keep the lead."
Even with a successful opening two rounds, the humble, yet excited Bogdan can find things he needs to improve on.
"I need to work a little better on top, I got hit twice for stalling in the two different matches," said Bogdan of his areas of improvement if he hopes to make the final. "I need to work out to the side more. I need to create angles more on my feet and just generally pound the head a little more."
Bogdan (30-6) will face Solanco's Connor Sheehan (31-4) when action resumes at 10:15 a.m. today. Bogdan's teammate, Ben Martin (220 pounds), didn't fare so well in the championship bracket, as he dropped his opening bout 20-11 to Hasan Alic of Carlisle.
But he rebounded nicely in the wrestlebacks as he pinned Twin Valley's Max Elliot in 3:33, then turned an 11-3 deficit into a wild 2:42 fall victory over a very good Alex Guinn of Spring Grove. Martin, who will now face Lower Dauphin's David Wuestner, avenged an early-season loss to Wuestner by pinning him for the section championship.
"It feels real good because I'm beat up right now," Martin said of moving on. "I pushed through it and got to it and it gives me a little confidence boost. I'm not happy with today, it could have been better, but tomorrow is a new day."
Also in AAA, Cedar Crest's Adam Gilson lives to fight another day after dropping his first match but then winning his first two in consolations. Gilson's championship-bracket loss came to Manheim Township's John Shorter, 7-1. He then rebounded to beat Cumberland Valley's Brendon Rigney 9-4, then Dover's Shaheed Mitchell 8-2 on the strength of a first-period five-point move.
"I started off bad," Gilson said of his start. "I came back and put up two solid matches."
Gilson will face Exeter's James Moran when action begins, needing two wins to make states.
Back in AA, Ulrich, the six seed at 160 pounds, used two "upsets" to spring his way into the semifinals. First, he took out fifth seeded Craig Spitler of Northern Lebanon with a fall in 5:37 and then took out the top seed out of Section II, Cole Swackhamer of Brandywine Heights with a fall in 1:40.
Ulrich advances to meet Bermudian Springs sophomore Colton Dull (39-3). Renninger found his way to the semifinals with a 1:04 pinfall victory over Columbia's Christian Rivera and then the 5:35 fall over Lobeck.
Inman and Bankus each only required one victory to reach the semifinals as they received first-round byes by placing in the top two of their section. Inman took out Susquenita's Nick Cain 5-0 to advance to meet Boiling Springs senior Andrew Mellott (31-9). Bankus defeated Biglerville's Dustin Grubbs 6-3 and will face Halifax undefeated senior Robbie Moretz (35-0).
Still alive in the AA wrestlebacks are Elco's Chad Puglio (113) and Austin Rueppel (145); Annville-Cleona's Matthew Darok (113), Tanner Pyles (138) and Dalton Himmelberger (145); and Northern Lebanon's Caleb Blatt (126), Evan Daub (152), Ryan Kelliher (170), Derek DiAngelis (182) and Matt Vines (220).
Still around in the AAA wrestlebacks are Palmyra's Martin (220) and Cedar Crest's Gilson (182).
Failing to make the second day in AA are Annville-Cleona's Phil Corle (126) Brandon Light (182), Kole Orfino (195), Elco's Matt Achey (126), Northern Lebanon's Quinn Blatt (132), Joey Emborsky (138), Craig Spitler (160), Anthony Deyo (285). In AAA are Cedar Crest's Bobby Beard (160), and Palmyra's Jamison Barker (285).
The top five from AA advance to next weekend's Southeast Regional tournament at Wilson while the top four from AAA advance to the PIAA state tournament held in two weeks at the Giant Center.