By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
HERSHEY, Pa. — While fans complain about private schools doing so well in postseason playoffs in football and basketball, they need only to take a look at Class AA wrestling to see one of most dominating runs by a private school in state history.
After all, the Reynolds Raiders have won three PIAA State Class AA Dual Meet Championships and probably would have more, except for two words: Bethlehem Catholic!
For a second straight season, BeCa defeated Reynolds handily in the state championship bout at Hershey Giant Center. Saturday the final score was 41-15, following up last year’s 43-16 margin.
It marked the fourth straight state duals title for the Golden Hawks, breaking a tie with Reynolds for most state crowns in the 16 years of the event. Reynolds has also finished second four times.
“It’s a saying that you can’t win them all, but in losing to that team there is nothing to be ashamed of,” said Reynolds coach Casey Taylor. “That’s a team that’s hard to beat. But we came in thinking that “on any given day” and our kids wrestled like it.
“I’m excited about what our kids did this year. Look at the guys in the line-up and guys who helped us get where we are. Six out of the 14 weight classes never had a win going into this season. Of proud of how far they’ve all come.”
The match opened at heavyweight with Raider sophomore Gene Ringer taking on junior Andrew Dunn, a state place-winner in 2013. Dunn, who defeated Ringer in the duals finals last year, went on top 2-1 in the second period with a takedown after a Ringer escape. In the final frame, Dunn escaped then grabbed another takedown for a 5-1 victory. Beth-Catholic lost a team point after the bout.
At 106, Gage Bayless jumped out to a 5-2 lead over Sean Redington after giving up an opening takedown. After two frames, the Raider freshmen led 7-4. An escape in the last period provided an 8-4 finale for Bayless, who went 4-0 in the tourney.
At 113, the Golden Hawks state runner-up Luke Karem took on freshman Chaise Hauck and was in control from the start en route to a 19-6 major decision.
Reynolds sophomore Seth Hogue, a state qualifier at 106 last year, tangled with Joey Gould at 120. It was all Gould after a takedown and cradle for a 5-0 lead. Gould came up with a second period fall in 3:56 to put the Hawks up by 12-3.
Raider Mike Bartolo faced a tough task at 126 as he met the Hawks’ Zeke Moisey, ranked No. 1 in the state. Moisey, who finished runner-up at state last year at this weight, went on top 9-3 after the opening frame and despite a gallant effort by Bartolo, came away with a 19-9 major decision.
At 132, Raider freshman Joel Leise faced Hawks’ state qualifier Stephen Maloney. A first period takedown staked Maloney to an early lead, setting the stage for a 9-1 major decision. Then at 138, Hawks’ outstanding freshman Mike Labriola dominated Raider senior Alex DiGregorio for a technical fall, 22-7 in 5:32.
At 145, Raider state place-winner Levi Stoyer broke the string of losses as he handled Mason Angstadt, 5-2. Stoyer rallied from a 2-0 deficit with an escape, takedown and reversal to cut the Beth-Catholic team lead to 25-6.
Raider senior Mason McCollum jumped on top at 152 with an early takedown on Brandon Gallagher and made it hold up for a 2-0 victory. That cut the margin to 28-9. Stoyer and McCollum both posted 4-0 marks at state.
At 160, Hawks’ Adam Soldridge built a huge lead early on Kegan Miller and rolled to a 17-5 major decision.
Then at 170, Raider Mike Millero took on Nick Cortopassi, a state qualifier and a 1-0 winner over Millero last year here. Cortopassi, ranked No. 2 in the state, held off the Raider’s late takedown attempts for a 3-1 victory.
Raider senior Austin Moffett fell behind, 4-1, early against freshman Joey Krause at 182, but Moffett hit one of his patented throws and decked pin Krause in 1:44.
At 195, Hawks’ state qualifier Jose Ortiz jumped ahead early and then pinned Denton Zeronas in 3:37.
Again, the match closed at 220 and Reynolds freshman Cole Rickert, the hero of Friday night’s heart-stopping semis victory over Boiling Springs, took on Paul Aaroe. The bout was tied at 2 heading into the final frame, but Aaroe caught Rickert in a cradle for a 5-2 lead made it stand up to the final whistle.
“You re never happy losing, but you can be proud of our effort,” said Raider coach Taylor. “The fans and the community, we always try to please them because of the support they give us. The kids did their best today and I’m proud that we do the right things on and off the mat.
“(Bethlehem Catholic) coaches said we made them physically wrestle harder than any team they’ve wrestled this year. And we take pride in that.”
“Even in down years when we come to state we make the team going through it work hard to beat us. Every year we are relevant and kids are busting their butts. It makes it exciting to go into practice and have kids who give their all.”
Notes: Reynolds was the only team to win more than one weight class at state against Beth-Catholic, who shut out Lower Moreland and Fort LeBoeuf, before beating Hamburg Area, 59-3. ... Burrell finished third in Class AA, defeating Boiling Springs, 45-20, in the consolation finals. ... In Class AAA, Franklin Region rolled over Latrobe, 37-23. Franklin Regional is coached by former Sharon High star Eric Mausser. In the AAA consys, Nazarath Area ripped Cumberland Valley, 39-19. Nazarath was humbled by Bethlehem Catholic during a dual meet earlier this season.
PIAA STATE AA DUAL MEET CHAMPIONSHIP
Bethlehem Catholic 41, Reynolds 15
285 - Andrew Dunn (BC) dec. Gene Ringer, 5-1; 106 - Gage Bayless (R) dec. Sean Redington, 8-4; 113 - Luke Karem (BC) maj. dec. Chaise Hauck, 19-6; 120 - Joey Gould (BS) pinned Seth Hogue, 3:56; 126 - Zeke Moisey (BC) maj. dec. Mike Bartolo, 19-9; 132 - Stephen Maloney (BC) maj. dec. Joel Leise, 9-1; 138 - Mike Lambiola (BC) tech fall Alex DiGregorio, 22-7, 5:32; 145 - Levi Stoyer (R) dec. Mason Angstadt, 5-2; 152 - Mason McCollum (R) dec. Brandon Gallagher, 2-0; 160 - Adam Soldridge (BC) maj. dec. Kegan Miller, 17-5; 170 - Nick Cortopassi (BC) dec. Mike Millero, 3-1; 182 - Austin Moffett (R) pinned Joey Krause, 1:44; 195 - Jose Ortiz (BC) pinned Denton Zeronas, 3:37; 220 - Paul Aaroe (BC) dec. Cole Rickert, 5-2.