That’s the number of Centre County wrestlers in the semifinals of the PIAA Class 3A wrestling championships after Friday afternoon’s session. Bald Eagle Area’s Seth Koleno (138 pounds), Bellefonte’s Brock Port (145) and State College’s Cole Urbas (182) are one win away from wrestling for gold.
“It’s exciting,” Koleno said. “I set a goal. On my phone, my background is ‘Seth Koleno PIAA State Champ.’ That has been a goal for my season.”
The Eagles’ Gage McClenahan (145) also became the first freshman in program history to place at states. He can finish no lower than eighth now.
But the big story remained just how the county’s potential champions — in Koleno, Port and Urbas — all won in such different manners.
Koleno caught himself in a high-scoring bout with Pittsburgh Central Catholic’s Domenic Means. He also trailed for most of the match that he won 13-10.
Means captured the first takedown of the match in the first period, but Koleno escaped and the score remained 2-1 to open the second. After a flurry of points were traded between the pair, the BEA product still trailed by one.
In the third, it was all Koleno. He tallied two takedowns, an escape point and was awarded a technical point for the win.
“That was one of his goals, to finish higher than in the prior year,” Bald Eagle Area coach Ron Guenot said. “He means a lot to the program. Whatever we ask Seth to do, he is willing to volunteer his time. He’s been a big part of building the program here.”
Koleno, who finished seventh last year, became the first Eagle in the semifinals since Jacob Taylor in 2013. Taylor won a state title that year.
For Port, he had to put in some overtime to secure his spot in a 4-2 sudden-victory win over Kiski’s Joey Blumer. He is the first Red Raider wrestler in the semifinals since his cousin, Mitchell Port, got there in 2010 and won a state title.
“It’s crazy; I’ve worked my whole life to get here,” Port said. “It’s a good feeling knowing I’m this close.”
Trailing 2-1, the Red Raider picked up an escape in the second period to tie it up. Blumer and Port traded takedown attempts. They scrambled most of the third period, but no one scored.
In the sudden-victory period, Port continued to grind and came out on top of a scramble for the winning takedown.
“Brock did what he had to do,” Red Raiders coach Mike Maney said. “We were pretty confident we could win the match, whether it was on the mat or our feet. He’s spent a year-long commitment and is reaping the benefits of it.”
For Urbas, he showed off a strong top game in his 4-0 shutout of Boyertown’s Elijah Jones. He became the first Little Lion in the semifinals since Steve Bosak in 2008. Bosak finished second that year.
Urbas collected a takedown in the first period and controlled Jones from the ride. In the second period, Jones took bottom in hopes of escaping the long arms and legs of Urbas.
The State College wrestler made him pay by collecting two near-fall points and led 4-0 to open the final period. He then took the top and rode Jones out for the win.
“Top is one of the positions I’ve become comfortable in because of my body type,” the sophomore said. “I try to get in the positions where I can be in control, and top is that position for me.”
Added Little Lions coach Ryan Cummins: “He is like an octopus. His arms and legs are everywhere, it’s hard to get out of him. A lot of kids I would want them to go down and get that point. But him, I want him on top and running it up.”
McClenahan ran into a buzzsaw in Hempfield’s Jarod Verkleeren in the quarterfinals. Verkleeren dominated from start to finish in an 18-5 major decision.
The BEA freshman responded nicely with a 7-3 win over Garden Spot’s Connor Finkey in the consolation third round, also known as the medal round.
Earlier in the day, the Eagles’ Garrett Rigg suffered a 2-0 loss to Shippensburg’s Chandler Olson in the second round of the 126-pound consolations. He was eliminated.
State College also had Ian Barr (160) and Pete Haffner (220) wrestling. However, they both suffered second round-consolation losses. Barr fell 3-2 and Haffner lost 3-1.