Records are made to be broken, right?
During Day 2 of the PIAA Class 2A wrestling championships, St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Caleb Dowling and Penns Valley’s Baylor Shunk set new records for their respective schools.
Shunk got a two-for-one deal. The sophomore became the youngest Ram to ever place at states, and he also set the single-season wins record with 40 and counting. Dowling became the Wolves’ first-ever place-winner in school history.
The young duo also punched their tickets Friday onto the state podium. Dowling can now finish no lower than fourth, while Shunk will walk away with no worse than an eighth-place finish.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Shunk said. “Coming in, I knew I’d have a lot of tough matches. I knew I was battle tested at the same time, wrestling the toughest kids all year. It’s really exciting. I never realized how great it feels to finally be a state place-winner. I can’t even explain it. It’s amazing.”
Dowling expressed a similar sentiment.
“It’s crazy,” Dowling said. “As a freshman, my goal is to place. Now that the worst I can do is fourth, it’s pretty unbelievable. It is everything I dreamed. I still have two or three more steps to win, but I got three more years to do it.”
Dowling began the day in the 132-pound weight class as the only Class 2A county wrestler with a shot at gold. However, the freshman dropped a tough 5-3 loss to Pequea Valley’s Gabe Miller. He gave up a takedown with seven seconds remaining and went into sudden victory. Miller tallied another takedown right away in that sudden-victory period for the win.
The freshman opened the consolations with a 4-3 win over Everett’s Liam Flaherty in the third round. Dowling trailed 3-1 with 35 seconds left but escaped with 18 seconds left and then picked up a takedown to secure his podium spot.
He went on to beat Bishop McDevitt’s Bodee Tolbert 7-0 in the consolation quarterfinals. In the consolation semifinals, Dowling drew Bishop McCort’s Carnell Andrews, who beat Dowling 5-1 in the District 6 final and 5-4 in the Southwest Regional final.
Dowling got his revenge. He tallied three takedowns and beat Andrews 7-4 to wrestle for bronze Saturday afternoon.
“He’s a warrior,” St. Joseph’s coach Pat Flynn said. “I’m speechless, and I’m not normally speechless. He just works and believes in himself because he trains really hard. Caleb is a stud, and I’m super proud of him.”
Shunk wrestled his way back through the consolations to secure his spot on the podium.
He began the day with scoring seven unanswered points in a dominating 13-3 major decision over Susquehanna Township’s Kody Evans. Evans didn’t get on the scoreboard until a third-period escape. Shunk’s win gave him the single-season wins mark with No. 39 passing teammate Darren Yearick and Corey Hazel.
“It’s really special,” he said. “There are a lot of really great wrestlers on that list that had the record. Now to break it, it feels pretty good, and to get 40 wins feels pretty great too.”
He collected that 40th win against a much smaller opponent in Troy’s Sheldon Seymour in the “medal round.” Seymour weighed roughly 97 pounds according to coaches.
Shunk collected two takedowns and had them hold up for a 4-3 nail-biter.
In the night session, Shunk suffered a 5-2 loss to Wilson’s Elijah Bundro. Shunk will wrestle for seventh place against Muncy’s Jacob Blair.
“He is a coach’s dream,” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said. “Last year, he didn’t even get out of districts. He comes into this year, he puts so much time and energy into the sport, he walks out of here with a medal. This is what you want to see for this kid because he is getting a big reward for the hard work he has put in.”
Penns Valley’s Yearick (120 pounds) and Jared Hurd (145) and St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Jacob Powers (120) all had their days ended early.
They each fell in the second round of the consolation bracket — the first match of the day.
Yearick suffered a 3-1 loss to Notre Dame Green Pond’s Ryan McGuire. Hurd went into ride-out periods and gave up an escape and takedown in the second period for a 6-3 loss to Lake-Lehman’s Bob Lipski.
“It’s not the way you want them to go out,” Brinker said of his seniors. “They’ve represented themselves very well for Penns Valley, our program and their parents. It didn’t end well, but they will look back on this. They had a very good career for us. We were glad to coach them and wish them all the best in the future.”
Powers, who was a record-setter all season long for the Wolves, saw his incredible postseason come to a close. After becoming the first District 6 and Southwest Regional champion in program history, the sophomore didn’t fare as well at the state tournament. After dropping into the consolations, he fell to Upper Dauphin’s Bronson Garber 9-3 and was eliminated.
“With Jake, he had a long season with managing his weight,” Flynn said. “We all thought he was ready. He made weight real well. He ran into a buzz saw. We got this summer to work on things to improve with him, and I know he will.”