HERSHEY — Matt McCutcheon and P.J. Steinmetz got a taste of what the next four or five years of their wrestling careers could be like.
Theyll be together, likely at the same weight and under the same practice roof. And if their future battles inside Penn States Lorenzo Wrestling Complex are anything like the war of attrition they endured at each others hand during Fridays PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals, their duel to see which one becomes a potential successor to Ed Ruth could be a very entertaining one.
McCutcheon and Steinmetz, who have both committed to wrestle for Penn State next season, pounded on one another with McCutcheon winning with a stunning fall in sudden victory at 195 pounds. McCutcheon, from Kiski Area, controlled much of the bout but the taller Steinmetz hung with him and made it difficult for McCutcheon to pull off his vaunted attacks.
While Steinmetz came away disappointed having dropped into the consolation bracket, McCutcheon walked off the mat sucking wind and bleeding from the mouth. He still managed a smile, however.
That was a battle out there, McCutcheon said. Im sure theres going to be a battle a bunch of times in the room.
Neither wrestler scored in the first period but McCutcheon got on the board first in the second with a reversal. Steinmetz chose down to start the third and McCutcheon, who was warned once for stalling in the second, was hit again and Steinmetz was awarded a point. McCutcheon couldnt turn Steinmetz who bellied out but popped to his feet with five seconds. McCutcheon tried to flatten him out again and gave up the tying point when he was called for stalling with one second left.
I was trying to get crossfaces and tilts and he was just basing out and was hard to turn, McCutcheon said. I just had to focus on getting the takedown in OT.
But McCutcheon got more than a takedown. Steinmetz took his own shot and McCutcheon countered with an underhook and drove Steinmetz to his back for the fall at 6:55.
After their match was finished, the two wrestlers gave each other words of encouragement and even got together at the scorers table for a few more complimentary words before each one headed back to his respective locker room.
I said, Hey man, well be teammates next year. Nice match, McCutcheon said. He said, Good job, nice match.
Steinmetz bounced back in his first consolation match, beating Jeff Pickel of Lampeter-Strasburg 13-0.
Other future Nittany Lions still in hunt
McCutcheon isnt the only Penn State commit still vying for a PIAA title.
In Class AAA action, Chambersburgs Garett Hammond continued his torrid pace Friday with another technical fall, this one a 16-0 romp over Pine-Richlands Brendan Burnham at 152 pounds.
I like this place a lot, Hammond said of his fondness for wrestling inside the Giant Center. I think some of these big tournaments, I get a little bit more excited. Youre working up to this point of the year, so all the losses that came before this, they matter but they dont.
Joining him in Class AAA success was Solanco junior Thomas Haines who is seeking his third straight PIAA title. Haines beat Coatesvilles Michael Boykins 4-1 in the 220-pound quarters. Boykins will wrestle Bald Eagle Areas Nate Sharkey on Saturday in the consolation bracket.
Benton senior Zain Retherford advanced to the PIAA finals for the second time in his career, this time in the Class AA 138-pound bracket with a 5-0 win over Brookvilles Brock Zacherl. Retherford is 46-0.
Forest Hills Cody Law beat Mifflinburgs Ty Walter 5-1 to advance to the Class AA 160-pound final.
Wrestling careers extended
Adam Geiger and Brandon Smith are wrestling like they dont want their wrestling careers to end anytime soon, although they eventually will as both intend to walk on to the Penn State football team this summer.
Trinitys Geiger beat Muncys Skylar Ebner 15-7 in the Class AA 195 quarterfinals to set up a semifinal bout against Chartiers-Houstons Garrett Vulcano. Geiger lost to Vulcano, however 5-2 and dropped into the consolation rounds.
Smith used a 4-2 decision over Ft. LeBoeufs Evan Daley in the quarters and a 2-1 tiebreaker win over Avellas Jake Temple to set up a final showdown with Saucon Valleys Ray ODonnell.
Geiger projects as a running back for Penn State while Smith will likely play inside linebacker.
Finalists and semifinalists by district
District 7 schools have combined to send 23 wrestlers into semifinal bouts in Class AAA, more than the two areas with the second most combined.
District 3 has 11 Class AAA semifinalists while District 11 has seven.
Four of those District 7 semifinalists are from Canon-McMillan which led Central Dauphin 40-36 in the team title race after two days.
Meanwhile in Class AA, District 4 and District 7 each have six wrestlers into the finals while District 11 has five.
Bethlehem Catholic leads Benton in the team title race 47.5 to 30.