There were some mixed results for the Bald Eagle Area wrestling team as theTop Hat Tournament started Friday at Williamsport High School.
The Eagles took some hits early in the tournament, losing their only pigtail bout before dropping seven of the 10 bouts wrestled in the Round of 16.
Staying alive by advancing to the championship quarterfinals were Titus Tice (138), Jake Taylor (182) and David Gawryla (285). Travis Giedroc (120), Aaron Varner (195) and Nate Sharkey (220) received Round of 16 byes to give the Eagles a half-dozen quarterfinalists.
“Considering we do have six in the quarters we didn’t really get to see a lot of wrestling because we had three byes in that first round,” BEA coach Steve Millward said. “Everybody had a bad round and I had to bring them together and let them know that is the reality of this sport but it has to stop. Sometimes you have a bad round and if we had to have one, I am glad that it was the first weekend of the season and not later on when we need to start putting things together.”
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In the championship quarters, Millward’s talk to the team after the Round of 16 must have had some effect as they qualified four of their six wrestlers for this today’s semifinals. Earning semifinal berths were Travis Giedroc (120), Jake Taylor (182), Aaron Varner (195) and Nate Sharkey (220), all four advancing with falls.
Giedroc decked Mifflinburg’s Cooper Wagner in 4:42, Taylor needed only 52 seconds to dispose of Cyler Wedge, Varner was two seconds slower than Taylor with his fall over Jared Schall and Sharkey mauled Mason White of Tri-Valley before gaining the fall with one second left in the opening period.
“I had a pretty good week of practice and right now I am feeling good,” Taylor said. “Hopefully what I did tonight will carry over into tomorrow.”
As one of the highly-touted wrestlers in the state, Taylor said that he doesn’t feel any extra pressure due to his ranking.
“When I go out and step on the mat, I try to forget about all of that stuff and just wrestle the guy in front of me,” he said. “I don’t worry about the rankings because all I can take care of is the score.”
Two other Eagles, Titus Tice (138) and David Gawryla (285), weren’t as fortunate as their teammates as both ran into tough customers in the quarters.
Tice was pinned by Central Mountain’s Cole Hanley in 1:31 and Gawryla had the misfortune of facing defending PIAA Class AA state champion Nazar Mironenko of Mifflinburg and was pinned in 1:40.
“They make things easy on the coaching staff when they are out there wrestling,” Millward said of his four semifinalists. “It would be nice to see some of the other guys have some success (today) when they come back and get these first matches of the year out of the way. Maybe they will be a little more relaxed (today) and open up to see how they can wrestle here at the tournament.”
Millward feels the Top Hat Tournament is a good way to begin the season.
“For an early-season tournament, it is a good one to get into,” Millward said. “You get a lot of wrestling with all of the kids, but as I said, I would like to see them do a little better. I would like to see the work they put in early in the season be a little more rewarding for them. I am not disappointed in how we wrestled as a whole unit, but I am hoping to see those guys have a little more success for the effort they have been giving us thus far this year.”
After having a solid group of heavyweights one year ago, Millward is happy to have the likes of Taylor, Varner and Sharkey back again.
“The big guys and some of the lightweights have been doing a good job for us and we are hoping they can pick up where they left off last year,” Millward said. “This tournament is what it is where we do see some good competition and it is a nice place to start our season.”
Wrestling continues this morning at 10 a.m. with the second round of consolations followed by the championship semifinals.
Heading into the final day of wrestling, the Eagles are in eighth place with 57 points. They have 11 wrestlers still alive to place, the four semifinalists and seven more in the wrestlebacks.