For two of the Lancaster-Lebanon league's top wrestlers, taking things one step at a time is the way to go.
Manheim Central's Jared Siegrist and Solanco's Bo Spiller each advanced to tomorrow's semifinal round with victories Friday afternoon in the PIAA AAA state tournament held at Hershey's Giant Center.
Meanwhile, Lancaster Catholic's Joe Lobeck advanced to tomorrow's AA Final at 113 with two tight decisions spanning the morning and evening sessions.
With five wrestlers in Friday's AAA quarterfinals, the prospects were strong for the L-L coming in. But not until Siegrist (37-1) garnered a takedown in sudden time to clinch a 7-5 victory over Pennridge's Kyle Gentile (44-5) that the league had a spot in tomorrow's medal round.
The Barons' junior wrestler came into his 170-pound quarterfinal bout versus Gentile, the Southeast Regional champion, looking for a statement victory. An early takedown gained Siegrist some confidence, eventually building a 4-3 lead after two periods.
Up 5-3 with time winding down in the bout, however, Gentile brought Siegrist to the mat to tie the score and force OT.
"He had control," Siegrist said. "I don't know when the buzzer went off. I kind of relaxed there at the end, I thought I had more time than I did, but he got two."
But Siegrist didn't panic, using a single-leg sweep to earn the win.
"You have to keep your head on straight, stick to the game plan you had," said Siegrist of going into overtime. "It's still the same match, just a different period."
Spiller, who like Siegrist took first in the Southcentral Regional, was looking to maintain a perfect record this season and to build on previous stints in States, including a fourth-place finish last year at 220.
Wrestling this year at heavyweight, Spiller (39-0) rode out Tyler Mears of Greater Latrobe to a 4-2 victory, utilizing a pair of first-period takedowns to build a 4-1 lead. Despite allowing a second-period escape, the Solanco senior gave Mears (29-3) little to work with as the third period went scoreless.
"My mindset is to keep attacking," Spiller said, who will face Ryan Monk of Dallas Area in his first bout tomorrow. "I feel like when I'm attacking that's my best chance to win. Third period is just like any other period, keep attacking, keep scoring points no matter what the score is (going in)."
Both Spiller and Siegrist are more than happy taking it one bout at a time heading into tomorrow, where just two bouts separates the wrestlers from PIAA gold.
"It's nice because I got basically a whole day's break until the semis," said Siegrist, looking ahead to his matchup with TeShan Campbell of Penn Hills. "(One bout at a time) is not bad as long as I can keep on winning."
"Next step is that gold medal," said Spiller on his season-to-season progress. "Two wins away, next opponent is very tough. We've wrestled twice before, it'll be a great match."
Also advancing to tomorrow's AAA medal round are Warwick's Devin Schnupp at 113, Garden Spot's Chance Norris at 170, and Penn Manor's Zeb Pfeiffer (220).
Schnupp and Norris regrouped from quarterfinal losses before proving victorious in the consolation bout. Pfeiffer battled through two consolations bouts Friday, including a 4-2 victory in sudden time over Andrew Boob of Selinsgrove, in order to advance.
Bounced in Friday's action were Conestoga Valley junior Lucas Ortiz (152), who came into the quarterfinals sitting at 99 career wins. Also ending their seasons were Penn Manor's Ethan Barley (160) and Jack Zimmerman (170), Hempfield's Jordan Ortiz (182), and Warwick's Austin Maguire (285).
As for Lobeck (41-2), the Lancaster Catholic junior survived a pair of close matches at 113, 1-0 in the morning's quarterfinals before a gritty 4-1 semifinal victory in the second tiebreaker versus Cameron Newman (40-3) of Line Mountain.
The two wrestlers went through three periods and a sudden-time session deadlocked at 0-0 before Lobeck's reversal and takedown resulted in much needed points.
"I don't like to be scoreless, I like to score and then start to work off that," said Lobeck, "so I was a little frustrated that I couldn't get past his defense. I wasn't too concerned about it."
Like Siegrist and Spiller, whose title aspirations will renew tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. at the Giant Center, Lobeck now finds himself a day away from gold. Lobeck will face Max Murin of Central Columbia tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. when the AA finals get underway; AAA finals begin tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m.
"It's a great feeling. I usually don't like to celebrate after matches," Lobeck said, "but I guess this one warranted a little bit of celebration."