As he rolled out of a wild scramble in sudden victory, Bald Eagle Area’s Nate Sharkey came face-to-face with his opponent in a match that was destined to be a tone-setter, or a dream-crusher.
With less than 20 seconds left in an extra period of an already grueling battle between two heavyweights who had only managed an escape apiece to that point, Sharkey decided he’d set the tone.
Once they were back on their feet, Sharkey swept Council Rock North’s Tyler Callender’s feet out from under him for a takedown that propelled him into the Class AAA quarterfinals. He joins teammate Jake Taylor in the next round where the BEA seniors will continue their quests to win PIAA gold when wrestling resumes on Friday at the Giant Center.
“This is my last go at this,” Sharkey said. “You’ve just go to go out there with no regrets. You can’t hold anything back. You don’t want to sit back and look at it, ‘I wish I would’ve done this a little harder.’ If you don’t succeed, at least you know you went as hard as you could go for the full six minutes.”
Sharkey’s 3-1 sudden victory win over Callender at 220 pounds was one of just two first-round wins for Centre County wrestlers on Thursday. While Sharkey’s took more than the usual six minutes, Taylor added Centre County’s only other first-round win with minutes to spare.
Taylor pinned Cedar Cliff’s Josh Colello in 3:38 at 182 pounds.
“Jake’s a great wrestler. Seeing him go out and do that just gets you pumped up to win your match, and you hope to do the same,” Sharkey said.
At first it looked as if Taylor was toying with Colello, forcing the Cedar Cliff grappler back on his heels and off the mat. At the same time, Taylor would run back to the center for a restart.
Eventually, Taylor worked into his offense. The BEA grappler, who is looking to make better on his third-place finish last year, turned a takedown into five points before time expired in the first. Taylor escaped to start the second and added another takedown before turning Colello to his back for a fall.
“I feel like I could’ve moved on my feet a little bit more in neutral, took a couple more shots, but you can’t really ask for a much better first match,” Taylor said.
Sharkey will face off with Evan Kauffman (36-1) of Freedom in the quarters, while Taylor will wrestle Gordon Bolig (46-5) of Owen J. Roberts next.
Taylor said he plans to be even more aggressive against Bolig.
“Most of the matches I get into trouble with are really closer,” Taylor said. “I end up on the loss side if I don’t really move too much. So I try and stay aggressive and score points.”
Bellefonte’s Trevor Corl and Nick Shawley fell out of their brackets after 0-2 days. Corl, a sophomore, got pinned by Nazareth’s Tyler Tarsi in the opening round at 120 pounds, and then lost by fall to Oley Valley’s Joey Flick in 51 seconds in the first round of consolations.
Shawley dropped a 3-2 decision to Chartiers Valley’s Noah Wilps at 170 pounds, then gave up a takedown in sudden victory to lose 4-2 to Pocono Mountain East’s Ernest Fogle.
While Corl will get another crack next season, Shawley’s senior season ended with a record of 31-6.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s John Prentice’s high school career also came to an end. Prentice was pinned in 2:49 by Central Bucks South’s Dominic Rigous, who came into the tournament with a 41-0 record. Prentice lost 3-2 to Nazareth’s Nicolino Sevi in the opening consolation round.
“It’s heartbreaking for him, I’m sure,” Philipsburg-Osecola coach Tim McCamley said. “His goal was to get here. Once he got here, the goals were reset and he really wanted to do his best. He did his best. He’s just a great kid and the hardest worker we’ve had. He’s earned this.”
Bald Eagle Area’s Aaron Varner was also eliminated after an 0-2 first day. Varner lost to Penn State commit Matt McCutcheon of Kiski Area 8-2 in the opening round at 195 pounds, before falling in the consolations to Eastern York’s Alex Cooley 8-5.