Three Centre County wrestlers started Friday still alive for PIAA Class 3A gold — and they ended the day with all three getting the necessary wins to reach the semifinals and secure medal matches Saturday.
Bald Eagle Area has two semifinalists in Seth Koleno and Gage McClenahan. State College’s Cole Urbas is right there with them too. They each need two more wins for the gold.
“It’s awesome,” McClenahan said. “It’s what everyone has been working on all year. It’s one match at a time.”
McClenahan made short work of his opponent to get to semifinals.
Never miss a local story.
The Eagles’ sophomore jumped out to a 10-1 first-period lead in his 152-pound quarterfinals match. He nearly pinned Council Rock North’s Dillon Sheehy in the first period with a massive headlock, but the buzzer saved Sheehy.
In the second period, McClenahan kept pouring the points on. A reversal began the period; he added two takedowns and a set of near-fall points for an 18-3 technical fall in 3:48.
McClenahan faces West Allegheny’s Ty McGeary Saturday morning for a spot in the finals. But BEA coach Ron Guenot said McClenahan’s technical fall wasn’t part of the plan.
“If you can tech fall in the state quarterfinals, that’s something that doesn’t happen a lot,” he said. “As it (the tech fall) got closer, Coach (Michael) Cook yelled at him, ‘Get one more takedown and get off the mat.’ You never know what can happen down here at any time.”
Urbas was on the mat for his 195-pound quarterfinals match half the time that McClenahan was.
The Little Lion took on Mid Penn foe Mitchell Talbott of Central Dauphin. Urbas took Talbott down for the early points.
He locked up a cross-face cradle and rolled Talbott to his back, but didn’t get the fall right away. Urbas readjusted and then earned the fall in 1:32.
Now, Urbas gets Connellsville’s Nate Ansell.
“I can’t ask for a whole lot more, can I?” State College coach Ryan Cummins said with a laugh, a day after Urbas technical falled an opponent. “He looked great out there. He went right after him.”
The third county qualifier, Koleno, had three goals this season — get his 100th win, have an undefeated season and be a state champion. He is two wins away from putting a check mark next to the last two.
The senior was quick on his feet, constantly countering takedown attempts from his 138-pound opponent in Parkland’s Zach Ortman. Koleno recorded a takedown in the first and second period.
He tacked on an escape in the third period and stifled Ortman’s shot attempts for the 5-3 win. Koleno, though, isn’t going to celebrate this win for long.
“It’s so much motivation,” Koleno said of being so close to finishing off his goals. “I’ve been working all summer and all season to try and get here. I just got to focus on the next match. That match is past me, I can only focus on what’s ahead.”
Koleno now has to get past Northern York’s Paul Feite to get past his list of goals. Guenot couldn’t be happier for Koleno and McClenahan.
“They wrestled two solid matches,” he said. “All the hard work and everything is paying off. You can’t be satisfied with just being in the semis; hopefully, we can push two into the finals. They deserve this, and that’s where we are at.”
Guenot had one other wrestler competing Friday in Garrett Rigg, but Rigg suffered a 7-3 defeat to Garden Spot’s Connor Finkey in the 145-pound consolation bracket. It ended a season in which the BEA senior fought through a wrist injury the whole time.
“He had an outstanding year,” Guenot said. “He gutted it out all year long with that injury. For what he accomplished this season, with being injured like that, just shows how tough of a kid he is. I know he wanted more and under the circumstances, he did everything he could do.”
Philipsburg-Osceola’s Matt Johnson was also eliminated at 152 pounds. He led 1-0 to start the third period, but a reversal and takedown from Pine Richland’s Cole Spencer ended the Mounties’ championship hopes with a 4-2 defeat.
“It was a great season. He overcame a lot of adversity for the past two years,” P-O coach Brad Pataky said. “That’s what this sport teaches is overcoming adversity. Even though he didn’t accomplish his goals here, he’s going to become a stronger human being because of the experiences that he has had.”