Future is bright for South Western wrestling
HERSHEY >> Every year at the PIAA wrestling championships, a few wrestlers stand out as ones to watch in future tournaments.
South Western sophomore Seth Janney filled that role this weekend at Giant Center.
In his first trip to the nation's most renowned state championship, Janney rolled to a second-place finish at 220 pounds. Two-time PIAA runner-up Jordan Wood, the nation's top wrestler at the weight, dealt Janney a 4-0 loss in the title bout.
Janney had put together a string of 10 straight postseason wins — eight of them pins — to reach the state final. He had a chance to win South Western its first state wrestling title since Joey Wildasin won his third crown in 1990. Instead, Janney adds his name to the list of South Western state medalists with two more shots at reaching the top step of the podium.
"I wasn't really that nervous because I didn't have anything to lose," Janney said about the final. "I was the underdog in that situation. Jordan's the best wrestler in the nation, hands down. The opportunity to get to wrestle with him is a great experience so I'm grateful for that."
Boyertown's Wood drew first blood halfway through the first period on a single leg. The two started the match tentatively until the shot which led to the score. Janney nearly stepped over to prevent the score, but the Lehigh recruit made sure he got the early lead.
A second-period switch led to a reversal for the final points of the match. Wood — who finished the season at 20-0 — put together a strong ride. He used a tough bar arm to secure Janney for a large part of the third period.
"Second in the state is nothing to be sad about. It was a great run," said Janney, who beat Tyler Worthing from Kiski Area, 6-3, in the semifinals on Saturday morning. "I was really nervous before my semifinal match and got past that. Then it was overwhelming after that, just a smile on my face all day."
As a team, South Western finished just outside of the top 10 with 36 team points for a 13th-place finish in head coach Nate Murren's first season in charge. Janney didn't do it alone as the Mustangs picked up a fifth-place from junior Derek Wilson. He received a forfeit in his consolation final to finish 35-13 on the season.
Wilson went 1-2 on the day with a loss by fall to eventual champion Spencer Lee in the semifinals and a 3-1 loss to Central Dauphin's district champion Tyshawn White in the consolation semifinals. None of that dimmed Wilson's enthusiasm.
"It would be nice to have a match (for fifth place), but I'm not complaining," he said shortly after getting his hand raised. "I set a goal the beginning of the year to place here, and I accomplished it. I'm proud of myself. I couldn't have asked for a better season."
Wilson won matches on Thursday and Friday to reach the semifinals. After receiving his forfeit, Wilson watched Lee pin Nazareth's Sammy Sasso in the finals, the only time the two-time champ from Franklin Regional went into the second period all tournament.
"District 3 is one of the toughest. Just making it out of there is pretty good," said Wilson, one of three wrestlers from the district to place in his weight. "When I came in here and got that first win under my belt, all the nerves left. I just came out here to have fun."
The Mustangs also brought junior Owen Wherley to the tournament and have several other strong wrestlers returning for 2015-16. Murren said the state tournament experience makes him look forward to the future.
"Having three qualifiers in my first year as head coach, I couldn't be happier," he said.