By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
HERSHEY, Pa. — Move over Rod Wright!
Lakeview senior heavyweight star Sam Breese had a goal coming into the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships this weekend at Hershey Giant Center — besides winning a second state crown, that is.
While he realized he couldn’t match the three state crowns won by former Lakeview icon Wright (1985-87), he had more than just his second state gold medal in mind. He wanted to do something Wright reportedly accomplished only his senior year — finish a season undefeated.
And Breese’s 36th straight victory this season did just that, adding the proverbial icing to the cake of standing atop the medal stand for a second year in a row.
“It’s something I worked for my whole life, an undefeated season,” said Breese.
“Tell Sam I also won the Dapper Dan and Challenge of Champions,” said Wright with a laugh, obviously proud of Breese as a fellow Lakeview alum and the only other Sailor matman ever to win state. “I’m happy for Sam doing so well,” said Wright, currently head coach of the Boiling Springs High Bubblers.
Breese, who finished his career with a record of 127-26, became only the 12th wrestler in Mercer County history to win multiple state titles.
Three other Mercer Countians of the original 12 entries — all sophomores — also brought home medals. Reynolds Seth Hogue (113) placed 4th, while Jamestown’s Faris Messai (113) took 7th and Reynolds’ Gene Ringer (285) 8th.
While the Sailors ace won his first title last season in the finals with a last second takedown for a 3-1 victory over Nicholas Budd of North Allegheny, the second finish wasn’t as dramatic, although it was exciting. Against Brady Mutton (36-2) of Pen Argyl, Breese fell behind 2-0 in the second period on a reversal, but came right back with a reversal to tie the bout heading into the final frame. In the third period, Breese escaped and held off Mutton for the 3-2 victory.
“Well, I guess I made it exciting, huh,” said Breese with a chuckle, about falling behind 2-0. “But I’ve been in worse positions. I knew what I had to do.”
Breese, a son of Sam Breese and Candy Burnett, leapt into the arms of assistant coach Mike Dye when he came off the mat and then hoisted head coach Tom Tingley in a joyous moment in the corner only moments after the win.
“I’m really proud of him,” said Tingley. “He wrestled a smart match, he knows how to stay in control. The experience of being down here last year certainly helped. You can’t buy experience.”
“He’s such a hard worker. He pushes everyone in the room on every sprint, every exercise and drills. He’s been a leader for our team in previous years too.
“He’ll translate well into the NCAAs.”
Breese said after the tournament he’ll probably sign with Kent State, where he has verbally committed.
While Breese moves on to college, the other three medalists will be around for two more years, hopefully finishing each season in the state tourney.
Following is a look at their final day of action:
ä Hogue faced a familiar foe in the 3rd-place consolation bout – Taylor Ortz of Brookville. Ortz, who had beaten Hogue 6-2 earlier in the Ultimate Duals, was leading 5-2 when he pinned the Raider here in 2:53.
“It’s not the way we wanted to finish here, but Seth still had a very good tournament and beat some kids many didn’t think he would beat,” said Raider coach Casey Taylor. “In that match, he almost had a takedown … then he almost had a reversal … but he just couldn’t finish. He had to adapt faster. But he’s only a sophomore and he’ll be back.”
Hogue, a state qualifier last year, finished this season with a 37-11 record, won a section title, took 2nd to Messai at districts and third at regions.
ä Messai looked strong in winnng his 7th place medal with a 7-2 victory over Kyle Drick of Montgomery. Drick led 1-0 after two periods, but the Muskies sophomore scored big in the third. He picked up a reversal and a pair of nearfalls en route to the victory.
“We were hoping last year to get him down here,” said Jamestown coach Steve Pfaff. “But we didn’t quite make it. We worked on some things and he looked really good at sections, districts and regions. But then he became what I’d guess you call ‘under-the-lights” shy and he didn’t wrestle well early here. But he came back and got a couple of wins and looked really good today. We’re looking forward to next year.”
Messai finished the season with a 32-7 record, winning section and district titles, while ending up as runner-up at regions.
ä Ringer had wrestled four overtime matches before his 7th-place clash with Brett Harris of Fairfield Saturday. Ringer again went to OT tied at 1-1, but Harris scored a takedown in the OT and pinned Ringer in 5:23.
“The pin didn’t matter because the match was over,” said Coach Taylor. “While we wanted to win our final two matches down here, I’m still proud of the guys and we have some things to work on before next year.
“I’m happy for our area and the other guys who got medals, Breese and Messai. Congratuations to them too.”
Notes: Other District 10 wrestlers who earned medals were: 2nd — Ryan Morris (195), Corry; 3rd — Dakota Geer (170), Franklin; Dylan Reynolds (182), Saegertown; 4th — Tyler Vath (132), Saegertown; 6th — Nick Monico (138), Saegertown; Connor Overman (220), Conneaut Area; 7th — Andrew Phelps (220), North East; 8th — Brad Malinowski (152), Fort LeBoeuf. ... Erin Tomeo, former Grove City High standout on the boys wrestling team, led the parade of champions. Erin was a 9-time female national wrestling champion and currently is assistant coach of the U.S. women’s national team. ... Erin’s brother Tom was a two-time state champ, one in AA and one in AAA at Grove City, and an All-American at Clarion University. ... Bethlehem Catholic won the team title for a third straight year. ... Jason Nolf of Kitanning won his third state crown and had 3 falls in 8:17 during the tourney, including a pin in the finals and was named the outstanding wrestler by voting of the media.
Final Team Standings
1. Bethlehem Catholic 138.5, 2. Brookville 77.5, 3. Boiling Springs 65, 4. Southern Columbia 60.5, 5. Burrell 53, 6. Bermudian Springs 48, 7. Kane 41.5, 8. Kittanning 41, 9. South Fayette 40, 10. Lancaster Catholic 35.5.
106: Jake Riegel, Bethlehem Catholic dec. John Pipa, Bishop McDevitt (Dist. 3), 3-1.
113: Luke Karam, Bethlehem Catholic dec. Jonathan Gabriel, Bedford, 5-0.
120: Korbin Myers, Boiling Springs dec. Todd Lane, Southern Columbia, 3-1.
126: Zeke Moisey, Bethlehem Catholic dec. Josh Giorgio, Schuylkill Valley, 9-3.
132: Ian Brown, Hanover dec. Kyle Shoop, Boiling Springs, 7-0.
138: Brock Zacherl, Brookville dec. Kent Lane, Southern Columbia, 8-1.
145: Jason Nolf, Kittanning pinned Billy Barnes, Williamson, 1:42.
152: Steve Edwards, Burrell dec. Blake Marks, Southern Columbia, 7-5 OT.
160: Kyle Bova, Coudersport dec. Jared Walker, South Fayette, 9-3.
170: Evan Delong, Kane major dec. Nico Pecora, Richland, 12-3.
182: Stephen Loiseau, Lancaster Catholic dec. Jose Ortiz, Bethlehem Catholic, 4-0.
195: Tristan Sponseller, Bermudian Springs major dec. Ryan Morris, Corry, 9-1.
220: Jake Temple, Avella dec. Reynold Maines, West Branch, 3-1.
285: Sam Breese, Lakeview dec. Brady Mutton, Pen Argyl, 3-2.
3rd Place Consolations
106: Brian Courtney, Athens dec. Joe Lobeck, Lancaster Catholic, 3-1.
113: Taylor Ortz, Brookville pinned Seth Hogue, Reynolds, 2:53.
120: George Phillippi, Derry Area dec. Joey Gould, Bethlehem Catholic, 3-2.
126: Cody Blankenship, Kane dec. Lewis Williams, Central Columbia, 3-1 OT.
132: Austin Harry, Lake Lehman dec. Tyler Vath, Saegertown, 5-2.
138: Jake Wentzel, South Park dec. George McGuire, Fort LeBoeuf, 5-0.
145: Zach Vroman, Brookville dec. Jacob Oliver, Huntingdon, 8-4.
152: Cole Walter, Mifflinburg tech. fall Grant Fetchet, South Fayette, 15-0, 3:14.
160: Ryan Preisch, Milton dec. Briton Shelton, Bermudian Springs, 7-0.
170: Dakota Geer, Franklin dec. Nick Mort, Fairfield, 3-1.
182: Dylan Reynolds, Saegertown dec. Isaiah Bobatas, Montgomery, 2-1 TB.
195: Garrett Wesneski, Canon pinned Marcus Davenport, Valley, 2:23.
220: Andrew Dunn, Bethlehem Catholic dec. Dylan Otis, Wyalusing, 3-1.
285: Allan Beattie, Burrell dec. Aaron Gill, Cambria Heights, 7-1.
5th Place Consolations
106: Max Murin, Central Cambria pinned Aaron Burkett, Chestnut Ridge, 4:32.
113: Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon dec. Austin McDermitt, Burgettstown, 6-2.
120: Triston Law, Forest Hills major dec. Mike Stuart, Benton, 10-0.
126: Grant Bond, Boiling Springs by forfeit over John Demaske, Jefferson-Morgan.
132: Mike Carr, South Fayette dec. Stephen Maloney, Bethlehem Catholic, 3-1.
138: Josh Evans, Palmerton dec. Nick Monico, Saegertown, 2-1.
145: Corey Falleroni, Burrell major dec. Dakota Nixon, Muncy, 10-1.
152: Brodie Zacherl, Brookville dec. Richie Cerebe, Calvary Christian, 6-0.
160: Jeric Kasunic, Benton dec. Levi Niebauer, Cambria Heights, 3-0.
170: Corey Hazel, Penns Valley by forfeit over Garrett Hoffman, Montoursville.
182: Terrell Fields, Valley dec. Gavin Berkley, Meyersdale, 6-3.
195: Logan Womelsdorf, Benton dec. Kyle Taylor, Boiling Springs, 3-0.
220: Jacob Robb, Kittanning major dec. Connor Overman, Conneaut Area, 8-0.
285: Jacob Beistel, Southmoreland dec. Devin Reed, Everett, 3-1 OT.
7th Place Consolations
106: Sammy Hepler, Tri-Valley dec. Ryan Carlson, Brockway, 4-1.
113: Faris Messai, Jamestown dec. Kyle Drick, Montgomery, 7-2.
120: Caleb Bordner, Tri-Valley dec. Willis Gruver, Redbank Valley, 4-2.
126: Pat Dewitt, Valley dec. Dante Albanese, Pius X, 4-1.
132: Ryan Easter, Bedford dec. Andrew Sutton, Pen Argyl, 3-1 OT.
138: Mike Labriola, Bethlehem Catholic dec. Garrett Thomas, Bedford, 6-5.
145: Tyler Shafer, Hanover by forfeit over Michael Comunale, Pius X.
152: Andrew Doak, Blairsville dec. Brad Malinowski, Fort LeBoeuf, 3-2.
160: Samuel Colebert, Oswayo Valley dec. Jimmy Miller, Brookville, 6-4.
170: Auston Hummel, North Schuylkill dec. Nick Cortopassi, Bethlehem Catholic, 3-2.
182: Colton Dull, Bermudian Springs pinned Cody Miller, Hamburg, 2:17.
195: Tyler Oliver, United dec. Richard Nase, Panther Valley, 3-1.
220: Andrew Phelps, North East dec. Sam McCollum, Bermudian Springs, 5-2.
285: Brett Harris, Fairfield pinned Gene Ringer, Reynolds, 5:23.