Earlier in the week, St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Jacob Powers knew one familiar wrestler could stand between him and a regional title — Penns Valley’s Darren Yearick.
In the end, Powers’ gameplan was strong enough to beat his district rival. Again.
Just a week after a dominant 7-1 win over Yearick in the 120-pound district final, Powers again prevailed over Yearick with an identical 7-1 score during Saturday’s Southwest Regional final.
“Going into the tournament, I thought I was probably going to have Yearick again in the finals just looking at the kids,” Powers said. “I knew what I had to do. I know Yearick is a good wrestler. I just had to open up against him and get the score up.”
Yearick came out on the offensive, shooting several times in the first period. He got in deep on a couple tries, but Powers’ length was too difficult to overcome.
“We wanted to be on the attack and get after legs,” Rams coach Joel Brinker said. “We did, but just weren’t able to finish. He (Yearick) sat on his heels and didn’t turn corners. I’m proud of (Yearick) for going after him and getting in on him. It stings. I think he proved something to himself that he could get in. Now, we got to work on finishing it.”
Powers took the lead with an escape, then scored a counter takedown to go up 3-0. Yearick started the final period down and quickly escaped. Powers got one more counter takedown and went into a ride that led Yearick to stall three times. It gave two more points to Powers on his way to the crown.
“I felt like I broke him towards the end,” Powers said. “I feel like that happened in districts when I wrestled him. I just pretty much repeated what I did last time.”
Caleb Dowling also reached the 132-pound finals for the Wolves. He took on Bishop McCort’s Carnell Andrews in a rematch of the district title bout.
Trailing 5-1 in the third, Dowling earned an escape and takedown with 20 seconds left, but he didn’t have enough time and lost 5-4.
“Caleb just fell short again, but we closed that gap,” St. Joseph’s coach Pat Flynn said. “A great takedown there at the end. He has the abilities to win a state title right now. His physical attributes are god given and awesome.”
The Wolves’ Ethan Kauffman wrestled his way through the 106-pound consolation bracket to finish fourth and advance to the state tournament. He opened with a 13-0 major decision, added a 6-1 win to reach the semifinals and then topped Burrell’s Trent Valovchik 5-2 to reach the third-place match before he suffered a 2-0 loss to Cambria Heights’ Allen Simmons.
“Ethan Kauffman is the master of the wrestleback,” Flynn said. “He’s been wrestling back all season long. I guess he just gets in a different zone when he is in the wrestlebacks. I wish he would do it in the winner’s bracket.”
The Rams started the day with Baylor Shunk, Andrew Sharer and Abraham Allebach trying to join Jared Hurd and Yearick in Hershey.
Hurd finished sixth after falling 9-3 to South Side Beaver’s Joe Demor at 145. Hurd lost in the semifinals 5-3 and his consolation match 4-3 to Marion Center’s Challen Cornetto in a rematch of the district title bout won by Hurd.
Shunk wrestled back for a fifth-place finish at 106 pounds to advance to states. He beat Valovchik 5-3 after Valovchik sent Shunk to the consolation bracket in a 7-5 quarterfinals win. Shunk used a pin and an 11-4 decision to reach the semifinals, where he lost to Simmons 5-0.
Sharer fell to Laurel’s Sam Garner 8-7 in the 152-pound consolation quarterfinals. Allebach fell to Penn Cambria’s Derek Brown 13-3 in the 160-pound consolation quarterfinals.
“For Baylor to beat the kid that beat him last night, (it) was good to get the fifth place,” Brinker said. “Abraham and Andrew, they are ninth- and 10th-graders and were right there in the blood round to move on. I’m very proud of their season and what they did. They represented Penns Valley really well. They’ll be back to fight at this level another day.”
In the 138-pound consolation bracket, St. Joseph’s had Evan Courts suffer a 3-2 setback to Huntingdon’s Tyler Scott in the second round to end his freshman season.
“We do the grading system,” Flynn said. “It’s an A-plus for the guys. Coming into the beginning of the year, the goal was to get everyone to regionals and see where we go from there. These kids all work hard. I believe in the next few years we are going to have a lot of champs — districts, regionals or hopefully state.”