Along with Bellefonte’s Brock Port, Centre County had five other wrestlers collect hardware on the final day of the PIAA wrestling championships.
In Class 3A, three wrestlers collected medals: Bald Eagle Area’s Seth Koleno (fifth, 138 pounds) and Gage McClenahan (seventh, 145) and State College’s Cole Urbas (third, 182).
In Class 2A, St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Caleb Dowling (132 pounds) earned a fourth-place finish and Penns Valley’s Baylor Shunk (106) took seventh.
Urbas’ finish was the next-highest for the county outside of Port’s silver medal. It was also special for the Little Lions as he became the first place-winner since Scott Bosak’s fifth-place finish in 2011.
“It’s amazing,” Urbas said. “I’m having so much fun down here in Hershey. I enjoyed every second of that match and this tournament. It’s the perfect ending to my season.”
The State College sophomore faced a familiar foe in Chambersburg’s Drew Peck. Urbas said midway through the season he beat Peck and felt it was a “fluke.”
Saturday night, Urbas beat Peck 4-0 with another showing of a solid top game. It didn’t appear to be a “fluke” this time.
After a scoreless first period, Urbas had choice and Little Lions coach Ryan Cummins signaled top. Urbas went to work.
He picked up two near-fall points on an arm-bar tilt and led 2-0 to start the third period. Peck chose neutral to begin, and Urbas made him pay with a takedown.
“He’s tough enough on top that I was confident enough to say let’s go top in a 0-0 match,” Cummins said. “He digs and gets those turns; that was really what kind of turned the match right there. I couldn’t be prouder. He’s a kid that puts in all the extra work, that all pays off right now.”
Koleno rebounded nicely to finish off his PIAA tournament after opening the day with a 13-3 major decision loss to Upper Darby’s Colin Cronin.
In his fifth-place match, the Eagles’ junior put in some extra work in an 8-6 win over Hempfield’s Luke Kemerer. After scoring the match’s first points with a takedown in the second period, Koleno couldn’t hang on to the lead and went into sudden victory tied 5-5.
Neither Kemerer nor Koleno scored in the sudden-victory period and were forced into rideout periods. Koleno escaped in the first. Kemerer escaped in the second, but Koleno earned a counter takedown for the win.
“I knew I just had to stay aggressive,” Koleno said. “I kept watching my feet and didn’t let him get to my legs. He started to shoot in on me, and we’ve been working on shot-reshot. I saw the opportunity so I took it.”
McClenahan’s day didn’t begin so well, as he took on Scranton’s William Evanitsky in the fourth round of the consolation bracket.
After a scoreless first period, the Eagles’ freshman tallied an escape for the lead. Evanitsky picked up his first points of the match with a takedown before the second period ended.
In the third period, Evanitsky got a reversal and McClenahan escaped, but it wasn’t enough in a 4-2 loss.
McClenahan was supposed to have a second match on the day, but his opponent in the seventh-place match — Penncrest’s Ryan Stocku — was unable to wrestle after suffering a concussion Friday.
“It was a good way to end the season,” BEA coach Ron Guenot said of the medals. “I’m really proud of our program and the direction we are going. Overall, down here, we wrestled well and, throughout the season, we wrestled well. The main thing is we had a lot of fun as a group. The community and the Bald Eagle wrestling family is excited with the direction we are going.”
Shunk was able to end his tournament with a win — his 41st of the season, extending his single-season school record.
“I’ve known a lot of kids that are state place-winners,” the sophomore said, “I always put them in a category above me when I was younger. It just shows that hard work and dedication all year round helps me and makes a big difference.”
Shunk scored the first points of the match with a takedown in the first period. He added an escape in the second period as the lone points and led 3-0 to begin the final frame.
The Rams wrestler continued his dominance by tacking on another takedown in the 5-1 win over Muncy’s Jacob Blair.
“When he came off the mat, I gave him a hug and said, ‘You’ve earned all of this. You deserve it. I’m so happy and proud of you,’” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said. “I was very confident that he would make the best of his opportunity. I didn’t know if that would be a medal but I knew he was going to give everything he had when he was here.
“By doing that, he gave himself a chance to get a medal. To end on a win is the cherry on top.”
Fresh off a commanding win over District 6 foe in Bishop McCort’s Carnell Andrews, Dowling suffered another heartbreaking loss to Pequea Valley’s Gabe Miller.
Miller knocked Dowling into the consolation bracket with a 6-4 sudden-victory win in a match Dowling led 3-1 with 15 seconds left.
This time, Dowling again led first with an escape in the second period. Miller claimed the lead with a takedown and led to open the final period.
In the third period, Miller earned a reversal to extend his lead to 4-1. Dowling escaped with a minute to go and was in on a shot immediately. Miller came out on top for the takedown and picked up two near-fall points for the 8-2 win.
“Every loss hurts,” Wolves coach Pat Flynn said. “He’s a competitor. He doesn’t like to lose. He’s right there. He’s in the top 4. He’s got three more years to get to the top of the podium.”