Tough sledding for YAIAA Class AA wrestlers at PIAA championships
HERSHEY >> Friday couldn't have started much worse for YAIAA wrestlers.
All six that competed in the consolation bracket of the PIAA Class AA championships lost their first matches on Friday at Giant Center. Of the five wrestlers that made it to the quarterfinals, all lost except for Bermudian Springs senior 182-pounder Colton Dull.
Such losses included Eagles senior 220-pounder Sam McCollum's first loss of the season.
"It sucks, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it, it sucks," McCollum said.
The day got worse from there, particularly for Bermudian Springs, as senior 170-pounder Briton Shelton followed his quarterfinals loss with a 6-4 defeat in overtime of his first consolation match. After placing fourth at 160 pounds last year and entering the tournament thought of as a title contender, Shelton's tournament — and wrestling career — ended without a medal.
"I feel bad for Briton because he's had a great career, he's won so many tournaments for us over the years," Bermudian Springs coach Dave McCollum said. "He's a four-time sectional champ, three-time district champ, two-time regional champ. He's won so many tournaments for us, and this is the one he just wasn't able to get. But this is the toughest one to win."
While Shelton's tournament ended with him sitting stunned on the corner of a mat, it didn't faze McCollum and Dull, as they battled back to put a cheerful ending on an otherwise disappointing day. McCollum came back out less than an hour after his loss and scored a reversal with less than five seconds left in his next match to secure a 6-5 win. Dull, who lost 5-4 to southwest region champion Corey Hazel in the evening's semifinals, came back out less than an hour after that defeat to earn a 6-0 win and secure a spot in tomorrow's third-place match. McCollum finds himself in the same position after winning two more matches Friday evening, including one in overtime.
"That semifinal match, it crushed me," Dull said. "That's everything I've been working for my whole entire life...but I was able to bounce back and wrestle my butt off."
Two other YAIAA wrestlers showed similar resiliency, but didn't end up with similar results. Eastern York 195-pounder Lucas Barshinger and Biglerville 145-pounder Nate Newberry both recovered from quarterfinal losses to win their next consolation matches and earn a spot on the medal podium, but they each went on to lose again later on in the day. Newberry lost in the fourth consolation round, and will wrestle for seventh place today. Barshinger lost in the fifth consolation round, and will wrestle for fifth place today. Both will make the medal stand for the first time.
"The second day of states is brutal," Dave McCollum said. "I think the quarterfinals are some of the toughest matches, and it only gets tougher when you get to the semis. I think the toughest day of this tournament is the second day."
SOMETHING'S GOING AROUND >> Newberry is 2-2 so far at the state tournament and he's only scored five points in four matches. The only takedown to occur in any of his matches is one he gave up in the third period of his quarterfinal. Leading 1-0, Newberry would eventually lose 5-1 after he was thrown down on his back for a moment.
Part of the reason for his slow pace is that he's been battling a cold this week.
"We didn't let the cat out of the bag, but there were some health things so we're not quite pushing the pace like we did the first three weeks," Biglerville coach Nate Becker said. "But for what's going on, he's fighting about as hard as somebody can fight. He's got a lot to be proud of in the way he's going out and fighting."
While it's changed the way he's wrestled this week, Newberrry said it's not an excuse for losing.
"It was just a bad week with a cold, but that didn't factor into this at all," he said. "I wanted to place this year and get higher next year, so it's gonna have to happen next year because seventh is the best I can do this year."
Bermudian Springs coach Dave McCollum said that Shelton and Sam McCollum also battled colds this week and aren't quite 100 percent.
DULL BITTEN AT THE END OF WIN >> After his consolation semifinal win, referees spent some time looking at Dull's hand. Dull claimed that South Fayette's Brett Beltz bit him at the end of their match, and Dull had a tooth-sized open wound on one of his fingers.
Referees ultimately chose not to disqualify Beltz.
Dull said he'd been bitten once before in a wrestling match, when he was seven years old.
"It's been a while," he said.
GARLAND'S SEASON ENDS AFTER ANOTHER TOUGH BREAK >> A postseason full of tough breaks for Caleb Garland ended with one last unfortunate call on Friday morning.
While his district title run ended after giving up a controversial escape two weeks, and after his state title run ended when referees didn't award him a pin on Thursday, an unusual call made the difference in his consolation match on Friday.
The Hanover junior lost 6-5 to Derry Area's Cole Wano and the deciding point was a pulling-on-the-headgear call against Garland late in the third period.
Garland, who trailed 4-1 early on, had taken a 5-4 lead before allowing Wano to escape and tie the match. The ensuing scramble resulted in the penalty call, as Garland seemed to pull on the chin-piece of Wano's headgear as they went to the ground.
Garland's season ended with the loss, but as a junior he will be back next year. Four other YAIAA juniors and sophomores were eliminated after losing in the same consolation round: Eastern York's Dakota Mackley (152 pounds), and Bermudian Springs' Austin Clabaugh (120), Noah Fleshman (160) and Brady Linebaugh (285).
Biglerville senior Nate Mentzer was also eliminated in the second consolation round.