Bellefonte’s Brock Port and Bald Eagle Area’s Josh Fye each started the day in the PIAA Class AAA championship bracket.
They ended the day, like most Centre County wrestlers, in the consolation bracket.
Port, who finished sixth in last year’s PIAA tournament, assured himself another podium finish. He isn’t going to be happy with the same result.
“Last year, I didn’t end where I wanted,” he said. “I’m not going to this year either.”
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Port needs two wins to top his finish from a year ago. After dropping from the championship bracket with a 2-1 loss to Council Rock South’s Lucas Maroccio, Port staved off elimination.
He earned a 4-0 win over Franklin Regional’s Ryan Krause, who eliminated Philipsburg-Osceola’s Dakota Weitoish the round before.
“It’s nice but I’m not happy yet,” Port said. “It’s a good way to come back from that.”
Port scored a takedown in the first period and used a strong ride in second period to keep the 2-0 lead. In the third, Port and Krause were in scramble mode.
“Most people once they get to a certain point they give up,” Port said. “You just got to keep pushing through the scramble and be the last person to make the move.”
Port earned a reversal and the victory.
“He’s hard on himself,” Red Raiders coach Mike Maney said. “You see a lot of good guys lose this round because they have to regather themselves and refocus. It’s a credit to his mental toughness. He came back and controlled the match against a solid guy.”
A pair of late comebacks sent Fye and teammate Seth Koleno soaring into day three.
Koleno and Fye guaranteed themselves spots on the podium with their respective one-point victories. Neither can finish lower than eighth place.
Koleno ousted Central Dauphin’s Andrew Wert 5-4 on a takedown with 10 seconds left. Down for most of the match, BEA’s 132-pounder scrambled to keep Wert in bounds to salt away the victory. Koleno opens Saturday’s action with Exeter Township’s Brett Kulp.
“You just can’t ever think you’re done,” Koleno said. “You just got to know you got more fuel in the tank and just keep wrestling.”
Fye went longer in his match against LaSalle’s Vincenzo Pelusi, surviving sudden victory and three tiebreaker periods to win 3-2. Down by one going into the second tiebreaker, Fye chose down and wriggled loose moments later. In the third, he escaped again to take the match.
“Their training paid off,” Eagles coach Steve Millward said of his two wrestlers. “We preach in our room, ‘You wrestle until the end. If that match goes further than six minutes, you’ve got to be ready to go further than six minutes. You have to feel like you’re capable of wrestling those extra periods.’ It came down to that and those guys needed it.”
When he broke free for the final escape, Fye raised his arms. He trotted over to the BEA fans in the stands, slapped hands with a beaming Koleno and wiped some sweat from his curls.
“Great job for those two,” Millward said. “I’m so happy and thrilled that they’re going to go out of here on the medal stand.”
Fye has had some special training coming into states. For the last two weeks, the heavyweight has been working with former BEA standout and Penn State alumnus Jon Gingrich.
“It’s nice that (Gingrich) comes around and takes the time with Josh,” Millward said. “Hopefully Josh rewarded him in some way just by being able to place down here.”
Earlier in the day, Fye dropped to the consolation bracket after falling 4-2 in the quarterfinals to Liberty’s Andrew Gunning. He will face Cathedral Prep’s Kawuan DeBoe in his fourth-round match Saturday.
State College’s Adam Stover had one match on the day in the 113-pound bracket. He was pinned by Council Rock North’s Aidan Burke in 3:28 to end his tournament.
District 6 update
As wrestling closed Friday, District 6 took its fair share of losses.
In Class AAA, there are only three wrestlers still in the hunt for gold. There are another seven alive for bronze.
Mifflin County’s Hayden and Trent Hidlay and Altoona’s Cole Manley will aim to make the finals Saturday morning.
In Class AA, there is an all-district final at 170 pounds. Westmont Hilltop’s Anthony Walters and Huntingdon’s Jacob Oliver will face off. Walters topped Oliver in the District 6 final.
There are seven other wrestlers alive for podium finishes.
“We certainly have some solid individuals,” Maney said. “You root for District 6 guys. You root against them during the regular season but at this time it’s about rooting for each other. We’ve had some tough rounds here, but overall we have some pretty solid wrestling in District 6.”
Loaded weight class
Central Cambria’s Max Murin and Athens’ Brian Courtney have made it to the end of the gauntlet that is the Class AA 126-pound class.
The weight class boasted three returning state champions in Murin, Reynolds’ Cole Matthews and Bedford’s Jonathan Gabriel, who was the defending champion. Courtney finished as a runner-up to Matthews in the 120-pound final last year.
Murin took care of Brockway’s Mason Lindenmuth 7-1 in the semifinals. Courtney, who beat Gabriel in the quarterfinals, got revenge on Matthews with a 9-3 victory.
Can you see me now?
More than muscles are stretched in Hershey. Spandex is too.
This year’s championships have seen a several teams flexing their sartorial savvy besides their strength on the mat. There have been Penn State doppelgangers, Viking axes and every cat of the genus Felis has been represented in artistic form.
But one trend has slinked past the competition, even if its wearers haven’t always done the same. The hot style for states: Camouflage.
From Redbank Valley’s checkered reds to Wyomissing’s high-tech navy blues, camo prints streaked across a passel of singlets during Friday’s action of the year-end tournament. Muncy, for instance, featured an army-inspired pastiche, its blue-and-white singlets tessellated with gray squares, while South Park followed suit in both a literal and a fashion sense. The Eagles, however, added a white stripe for cummerbund-esque suavity.
Dipped in every color of the rainbow, the camo-printed singlets didn’t stay hidden in the crowd. But whether their wearer won or lost, each needed a spin cycle after day two ended.
Sweat, camouflage notwithstanding, is hard to hide.