Centre County had four medalists return home Saturday.
Joining Bald Eagle Area’s Seth Koleno and Josh Fye, Penns Valley’s Darren Yearick and Bellefonte’s Brock Port all had hardware hung around their necks from the PIAA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center.
Yearick was the lone representative from the county in Class AA, using a nice run through the 113-pound consolation bracket to set up his fifth-place match with Upper Dauphin’s Bronson Garber.
“I’ve practiced with Bronson,” Yearick said after his 5-0 loss. “He’s a tough kid. Unfortunately, he was stronger than what I was.”
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Garber scored the intial points of the match with a takedown early in the first period. From there, he put on a riding clinic. Garber worked the arm bars to perfection.
“His kind of nemsis on top is getting stuck in bars,” Rams coach Joel Brinker said of his wrestler. “We got to work on not getting arms stuck in bars.”
Yearick had a choice in the second and chose bottom. Garber again went to work on the ride and arm bars and didn’t allow Yearick up. Garber tacked on an escape and another takedown for the final points.
“I’m still happy with where I finished,” Yearick said. “I can always work harder next year and place higher. It’s an amazing feeling to know that I’m able to keep the tradition of us placing. It doesn’t have to stop this year. I get to be the person to keep it to continue (next year).”
Yearick became the second straight Penns Valley wrestler to medal in the PIAA tournament. It’s a feat that Brinker laughed about.
“Yes, we are,” he said when asked about leaving with another medal. “We’re happy. I don’t think before the season started he realized how realistic it was he could get a medal here. I think it gives him a lot of confidence in the future and validates what he has done. Next year, we hope to move up the podium.”
Port ended a spot behind last year’s finish. He squared off with Susquehanna Township’s Edmond Ruth for seventh place in the Class AAA 145-pound bracket. Ruth is the younger brother of former Penn State standout and three-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth.
Port came out on top 5-2 but wasn’t quite happy with the way he wrestled.
“Till this tournament, good,” Port said when asked about his season. “I just didn’t perform in this tournament. To finish strong is good ,but it will keep me hungry for next year.”
He scored a quick takedown in the first to grab the early lead. In the second period, he earned an escape. To him at the time, it was the turning point.
“That escape was big,” Port said. “If I gave up an escape and a takedown in the third, I would have been losing instead of tied. It was an extra layer of comfort going into the end.”
In that third period, Ruth got to within 3-1. He went in for the match-tying takedown. Port countered and dragged his toes to earn the takedown on the edge of the mat and put away the win.
“It’s certainly quite the accomplishment to medal in this tournament,” Red Raiders coach Mike Maney said. “You’re looking at the best state for high school wrestling. Now he is a two-time state medalist, so he can certainly be proud of that.”
Future Nittany Lion?
Franklin Regional standout Spencer Lee cruised to his third straight PIAA title.
He pinned his way to the finals, wrestling a combined 2 minutes, 44 seconds before the finals.
In the finals, Lee earned a technical fall on Exeter Township’s Austin DeSanto 15-0 in 3:45.
“The falls just kind of come,” Lee said. “You can’t just look for it. You got to score points and it will come to you..”
He finished his junior season undefeated and his career record is now 109-0, even if he had to sit out most of the season recovering from a torn labrum.
“You don’t really understand how much you miss the sport,” he said, “until you’re out of it for five months. Coming back here strong and having fun, it’s just been amazing.”
It is rumored that Lee is down to two schools for his college choice — Penn State and Iowa.
District 6 finales
Westmont Hilltop’s Anthony Walters and Huntingdon’s Jacob Oliver squared off for the 170-pound Class AA title.
Oliver avenged his District 6 loss to Walters with a controversial takedown call in sudden victory 6-4 to win his crown. Mifflin County’s Hayden Hidlay, in Class AAA, was the only other District 6 wrestler able to capture gold.
In Class AA, District 6 wrestlers earned three silvers, a fourth-place, two fifth-place finishes, a sixth-place and three seventh-place awards. Class AAA saw a silver, bronze, a fourth-place, two fifth-place, a sixth-place and three seventh-place finishes.
It was anybody’s race between Brookville, Huntingdon and Boiling Springs when the Class AA championship round started.
Four points separated the Raiders from the third-place Bubblers. The Bearcats were in second, one point ahead of Boiling Springs.
In the end, Brookville held off Huntingdon by two points. The Raiders finished with 72.5.
Boiling Springs and Reynolds each tied for third with 63.5 points. Chestnut Ridge and Bishop McDevitt also tied for fifth with 61 points.
In Class AAA, it was Bethlehem Catholic’s title to lose. The Hawks held a 32.5-point lead to open. They finished with 126.5 points, which was 36.5 points better than Nazareth. Bethlehem Catholic finished with three individual champions.
Mifflin County, Belle Vernon and Penn Ridge rounded out the top five.