By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
HERSHEY, Pa. — If you are Major League Baseball player, a .333 batting average is great. But in wrestling at the state tournament — not so much!
Out of the dozen wrestlers that Mercer County sent to Hershey for the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships, only four (.333) will reach the medal stand today — led by Lakeview senior Sam Breese who shoots for a second straight gold medal.
Reynolds’ Seth Hogue will compete for 3rd, while Raider Gene Ringer (285) and Jamestown’s Faris Messai (113) vie for 7th.
After four locals bowed out on the opening day Thursday, four more were ousted Friday — all from Reynolds and all going 1-2 (.333) for the tourney. They were Gage Bayless (103), Michael Bartolo (126), Mike Millero (170) and Cole Rickert (220).
Since Breese climbed to the top of the medal stand last season as a junior, he has been on a mission to repeat. He built a 32-0 record prior to the state tourney and has rolled through three opponents thus far at Hershey.
And today in the finals, which start at 2 p.m., Breese attempts to become only the 12th Mercer County matman to win multiple state crowns.
On Friday, Breese didn’t even break a sweat in the quarterfinals as he pinned Boiling Springs’ Noah Davis in 10 seconds. The state record is 8 seconds. For Boiling Springs coach Rod Wright, a three-time state champ for Lakeview, he admitted it was “bittersweet.” “I didn’t want my guy to lose, but I’m happy for Sam.” Breese and Wright are the only Sailors ever to win state gold.
In the semifinals against Burrell’s Allan Beattie, the Southwest Region champ, Breese drew first blood with a legdrop takedown and led 2-1 after one period. The Sailor escaped in the second then dropped Beattie to his back with a bearhug and jumped ahead 7-1 after two. In the third, Breese easily held on for an 8-3 victory, although he took a hard illegal headbutt in the nose from Beattie and had to take injury time.”
“He’s a little frustrated right now because of how dirty that kid was,” said Lakeview coach Tom Tingley. Like I said before, when you win a state title, you have a big target on your chest the next year. But he found a way to fight through it and now he’s ready for another championship.”
Breese, while accepting congratulations from family and friends, said he has been looking forward to this since last year. “I knew I wanted to get two state championships,” said Breese. “But I wanted to do it different, I wanted to be undefeated. I lost a few last year and I don’t think Rod Wright ever had an undefeated season, even though he won three state titles.”
Breese will face Southmoreland’s Jake Beistel (38-4) in today’s title tilt. Beistel beat Reynolds’ Ringer in the opening match of the tourney, 3-2 on Ultimate Tie Breaker.
Reynolds’s Hogue started the day with a quarterfinals victory over Austin Griffiths of Southmoreland in a thriller. After no score in regulation, the Raider sophomore nailed a takedown for a 2-0 Sudden Victory. In the semifinals, Hogue lost by fall in 3:50 to Jonathan Gabriel of Bedford, who earlier defeated Jamestown’s Faris Messai. Gabriel led 2-0 over Hogue after the first period. In the second he reversed then trapped the Raider on his back for the pin. Hogue dropped into the consys where he faced Austin McDermitt of Burgettstown. Hogue broke a 1-1 deadlock with a takedown in the second period and added a reversal and near fall in the third for a 7-3 victory. For third place, Hogue (37-10) faces Brookville’s Tayler Ortz (37-4). In the Ultimate Duals earlier this season, Ortiz won a 6-2 decision.
“Seth has had a great tournament,” said Reynolds coach Casey Taylor. “He beat some kids a lot of people didn’t expect him to beat. Seth’s loss in the semis, was more mental than physical, but he came right back and beat a good kid an hour and a half later.
“We’ve got guys wrestling for third and seventh and we always like to leave with an odd number. And they’ll both be back next year too to hopefully do even better.”
Vying for 7th place
113 – Jamestown sophomore Messai bowed by tech fall in the quarterfinals Friday to Gabriel of Bedford, but bounced back in the consys. Messai pinned Coy Campbell of Upper Dauphin Area in 3:26 to move into the medal rounds. In the Round 3 consolations, Messai faced Collin Glorioso of Huntingdon. Glorioso scored a quick takedown and dominated from top with legs, turning the Muskies for back points several times en route to a tech fall, 16-0, in 3:58. Today Messai (31-7) goes for 7th place against Kyle Drick (40-35) of Montgomery, the Southwest Region runner-up.
285 – Reynolds sophomore Ringer moved into the medal rounds with a 3-2 overtime triumph over Dalton Chilson of Wyalusing. The regulation matched ended at 1-1. After no takedown in the first OT period, Ringer scored a reversal in the second. In the third, Chilson escaped, but Ringer fought off takedown attempts for the victory. In the third-round consy match, the Raider faced Aaron Gill of Cambria Heights. Again it went to overtime, but Ringer lost in the Ultimate Tie Breaker, 3-2, when Gill escaped. For 7th place today, Ringer (38-14) will meet
Reynolds had four wrestlers eliminated in the second round of the consolations before Ringer finally got a win to stop the bleeding.
“They all gave a great effort, but came up short,” said Coach Taylor. “I’m not disappointed in them; I’m disappointed for them. When you bring kids here you want them all to go home with a medal around their necks. But the good thing is the kids that lost today will all be back next year.”
Following is a look at the Raiders who were ousted:
106 – Reynolds freshman Gage Bayless was deadlocked at 2-2 after one period with Tri-Valley freshman Sammy Hepler, but the rest of the match belonged to Hepler after he turned Bayless in the second period for a 3-point nearfall. Hepler went on to a 10-2 major decision. Bayless finished the year at 39-7, winning a section and district titles, while finishing second at regions.
126 – Reynolds junior Michael Bartolo started off Friday in the quarterfinals with a hardfought, 7-4 loss to undefeated John Demaske of Jefferson-Morgan. In the consy round, Bartolo was leading 3-2, but was taken down with 22 seconds to go and ridden out by Central Columbia junior Lewis Williams in a heartbreaking, 4-3 defeat. It was the second straight trip to states for the Raider (34-11), who was runner-up at regions in 2014 after winning District 10 and section crowns.
170 – Mike Millero, Reynolds junior, faced Auston Hummel of North Schuylkill in the second round of consys. With the match tied 1-1 in the final frame, Millero grabbed a double leg takedown for the lead. But it was short-lived as Hummel reversed, put the Raider on his back and went on to a 6-3 victory. Millero (41-10) was runner-up at sections and districts, placing third at regions.
220 – Reynolds freshman Cole Rickert had beaten North East’s Andrew Phelps at both districts and regions, but Phelps turned the tables in the state consolations to halt the Raider’s medal hopes. Rickert gave up a takedown near the end of the first period and could never get back in the match against the defensive Phelps. Trailing 3-1 in the third period, Rickert tried a desperation throw, but Phelps came out on top and pinned Rickert in 4:28. Earlier in the quarterfinals, Rickert lost to Reynolds Maines of West Branch, 18-5. Rickert (31-9) was a section and region champ, finishing third at districts. Ironically, Phelps was out of the tournaments, placing 7th at districts. But he was re-entered after Mercer’s District champ Colton Smith was pulled out. And now Phelps will earn a state medal.