Funck loses PIAA first round by injury default
See the top 5 moments from Northern Lebanon's day one at the PIAA Class 2A Individual Wrestling Tournament.
HERSHEY – It was a day no one associated with Northern Lebanon wrestling is accustomed to seeing to begin the PIAA Class 2A Individual Wrestling Tournament.
The Vikings have just one out of six wrestlers remaining in championship contention, with only three alive in consolations.
But the worst news of the day was losing senior 182-pounder Luke Funck, who was perhaps NL’s best chance of bringing home a gold medal, due to injury.
Per coach Rusty Wallace, Funck suffered an ankle sprain during his first round bout against Meyersdale’s Christian Hutzell, leading to Hutzell winning by injury default in 1:41 Thursday at Giant Center.
Funck suffered the injury late in the first period of the bout while trying to shoot down and score.
After being down on the mat for several moments, the NL senior continued the match, but was clearly limping badly and found himself down 4-2.
Then after being taken down again, Funck still had trouble getting up on his own power and couldn’t continue, also out of injury time.
“It’s hard. Wrestling’s a really cruel sport at times,” Wallace said. “It breaks my heart it had to happen to him, because I know how much we wanted to be here and win. But he’s a resilient kid and he’ll bounce back. He’ll grow not only as a wrestler, but as a person.”
If he is able to wrestle Friday, Funck will still have a chance to wrestle for the podium however, set to face Honesdale’s Alec Dragos in the second round of consolations, after having a bye in the consolation bracket.
But Wallace says it’ll be a match-time decision.
“He’s still getting looked at,” Wallace said. “If he’s able to go, he will. It’s just one of those fluke things. Even if he’s able to wrestle tomorrow and can come back to place, it’s not going to be what he wanted. Hopefully he’s OK.”
Trevor Leonard is the lone Vikings wrestler continuing the quest for a state title, after defeating Brookville’s Dontae Constable by fall in 3:47.
Leonard will face Bishop McCort’s Carnell Andrews in Friday’s quarterfinals, which begin at 9 a.m. back at Giant Center.
Leonard had control for most of the match, taking a 2-0 lead just before the first period buzzer with a reversal. Then after retaking a 3-2 lead with an escape, Leonard went for the win.
What also helped Leonard was having an idea of what his opponent was all about.
“My practice partner wrestled against him in team states,” Leonard said. “I watched the match and he really didn’t do much. He wasn’t aggressive, so I knew if I could get the two points off the bat, I could score more points fast.”
After an unsuccessful trip to states last season, Leonard says he learned a lot from his experience, and is determined to make sure he’s at the top of the podium.
“There’s a lot of talent and anyone can be beaten,” Leonard said. “You’re going to be in a lot of close matches, and you just have to fight through them. I’m just focused on getting to the finals. Whoever’s in my way, I’m just going to have to beat them.”
While his brother remains alive in the championship bracket, Colin Leonard remains in contention in the consolation bracket at 120, thanks to a 4-0 decision over Brian Dawson of HOPE for Hyndman, after losing his preliminary round bout to Northwestern’s John Wheeler by an 8-5 decision. Colin Leonard will face Burrell’s Trent Bechtold in Friday’s second round of consolations, which also begin at 9 a.m.
After dropping a 10-0 major decision to Ridgway’s Logan McClain at 138, Zach Kelly came back with a 4-1 decision of Notre Dame-Green Pond’s Mario Gordon in the first round of consolations. He’ll face Hanover’s DJ Erickson in Friday’s second round.
It was a tough day as well for another Vikings senior, as Hunter Wallace was eliminated after dropping his preliminary round match in a heartbreaking 4-2 decision to Reynold’s Derek Skeehan, thanks to a takedown with six seconds left. Wallace then lost his first round consolation with Brookville’s Tyler Cook by fall in 3:24.
Kyler Anspach's season is also over after losing by fall in 1:25 to Troy’s Sheldon Seymour in their 106 first round bout. Anspach then dropped an 11-4 decision to Burrell’s Trent Valovchik in the first round of consolations.
Wallace put the rough day in perspective, as a reminder that nothing comes easy, no matter how good you are.
“It’s the state tournament in the toughest state in the country,” Wallace said. “It can sometimes be a humbling experience. But Kyler battled, Colin did a nice job coming back to advance, Trevor wrestled a great match to put himself in good position to hopefully compete for a medal, Zach kept his composure to advance, so that’s always a positive.”
CLASS 3A: Palmyra senior Leo Higgins got off to a great start at the PIAA Wrestling Championships, even if his debut match did take quite a while.
Higgins (26-6) won his preliminary bout Thursday at Giant Center, but was defeated in the first round. He will wrestle Friday afternoon in the second round of consolations.
In the opener, facing Mike Mahon of Fox Chapel, the first period was scoreless. Higgins was on top to start the second and rode Mahon for about a minute before he put Mahon his back. He collected three nearfall points, plus an extra point when Mahon yelled that he was hurt.
Between that injury and three stoppages for bleeding by Mahon, it was a long match. The only point in the third period was an escape by Higgins, so the bout ended with a 5-0 score.
In the first round, Higgins ran into Travis Stefanik of Nazareth and suffered a 12-5 defeat. Stefanik scored four takedowns and a reversal, although Higgins did take him down in the third period.