Fantastic Fourth: Raiders turn in medal finish at state dualsBy Chris Wechtenhiser
Thursday, February 16, 2012
LATE RALLY ÑÊBrookville's Brett Smith, top, scores the winning backpoints late in the third period against Bermudian Springs' Tyler Fitzkee as head coach Dave Klepfer watches in the background. Smith was trailing 2-0 when he reversed Fitzkee to his back to come away with a 5-2 win Saturday over the fifth-ranked wrestler in the state at 170 pounds. Smith went 5-0 on the weekend for the Raiders. (Photo by Chris Wechtenhiser)
HERSHEY - Two years ago Hershey was probably the farthest thing on the minds of people involved with the Brookville wrestling program when it came to the PIAA Team Championships, but there the Raiders were Saturday, standing on the mats in the Giant Center celebrating a fourth-place finish in the Class AA tournament.
Brookville had just lost a close 30-28 match to District 10 Fort LeBoeuf, a team they beat 34-30 earlier this year, in the consolation finals, but it was obvious how much finishing in the Top 4 in Hershey meant to the team. The fourth-place finish was especially sweet for Raider seniors Brett Smith, Trey Constable, Logan Stout, Tyler Dombrowski, Jake Cieleski and Brien Alexander. That group has gone through the best and worst of times during their careers at Brookville.
Just two years ago Brookville suffered through arguably the worst year in program history as injuries, coupled with some other issues, led to the Raiders finishing the year 1-15. However, Brookville quickly turned things around last year thanks in large part to staying healthy and the return of Stout, who spent his sophomore season at Shady Side Academy. Two strong freshmen classes in as many years also haven't hurt the Raiders' cause.
Last year Brookville went 14-2 but fell short of making it to Hershey with a loss to Ridgway in the D-9 finals. That wasn't the case this season as the Raiders ended the Elkers' run of five straight District 9 team titles. And Brookville made the most of its trip to Hershey, putting together an impressive three days to bring home some state hardware to cement its place not only as one of the best teams in school but District 9 history.
Brookville's fourth-place finish marked the fifth time a District 9 team has placed in the Top 4 in the 14-year history of the state duals and the second time the Raiders have done so. Brookville won the inaugural state team title back in 1999 when the event was single-elimination and only first and second place were awarded. Brockway finished second in the event in 2003.
The tournament was changed to a double-elimination event in 2005, thus adding the third-place match, and since then Ridgway has placed twice. The Elkers lost their first match in 2007, then won four consolation matches in a row to finish third. Ridgway added a fourth-place finish in 2010.
The Raiders' three wins on the weekend also set a new school record for wins in a season (20-6). Those 20 victories broke the old mark of 18. Brookville went 18-1 during it state team title season of 1998-99, then went 18-4 in 2002-03.
Brookville's run through this year's tournament was spearheaded by its seniors Stout and Smith, who each went 5-0. Smith's five wins give him 120 for his career, moving him past the late Jason Gilligan (118) and into second place on the Raiders' all-time wins list. Current assistant coach Eli Morres tops that list with 151.
Junior Taylor Cudworth and sophomore Brock Zacherl also enjoyed perfect 5-0 weekends, while Constable and freshman Dalton Zimmerman each went 4-1. Stout was a bonus-point machine for the Raiders, racking up four pins in five matches. Cudworth had one pin and a forfeit win, while Zacherl recorded a pin and technical fall.
Big wins from those six wrestlers, along with other key wins from their teammates were instrumental to the Raiders' run in Hershey.
After routing Lower Moreland 72-0 Thursday, Brookville upended District 4 champ Wyalusing Valley, 36-15, in Friday's quarterfinals. That set up a matchup with Bethlehem Catholic (BeCa), which showed why they are the best team in the state with a 46-12 win over the Raiders. BeCa went on to beat Boiling Springs 52-15 for its second straight state team title.
The Raiders bounced back from that loss in a big way Saturday morning and wrestled arguably their best match of the year in beating District 3 runner-up Bermudian Springs 32-24 in the consolation semifinals. That win set up a rematch with District 10 champ Fort LeBoeuf in the consolation finals. The Raiders beat the Bisons, 34-30, earlier this year the Ultimate Duals, but this time around LeBoeuf came out on the winning side with a hard fought 30-28 win. The third-place finish was the Bisons' third Top 3 trophy in as many years in Hershey. LeBoeuf won the team title two years ago, then lost to Bethlehem Catholic last in the finals.
"I'm absolutely not disappointed with the way they wrestled," said Raiders head coach Dave Klepfer. "We turned it on here about three weeks ago, and it helps when you get everyone healthy. Just putting together the type of matches they did to beat the type of teams they did, I couldn't be more pleased truthfully. Even that last match (Fort LeBoeuf), losing a tight one is always tough, but the kids wrestled hard. We got caught in one bout there and that was the difference. But overall, every kid wrestled with every ounce of heart they had all weekend long - even in last night's loss (BeCa). I'm thrilled with the way we wrestled as a team.
"I thought they responded well to the atmosphere. No one laid down, even when they were outclassed on the mat. I thought we went out and battled.
That's what it takes if you want to come down and beat these type of teams and be able to compete with them. All 14 guys in the lineup have to be giving 110 percent effort, and we had that all weekend long.
"Finishing in the top four is huge for everybody involved (entire District 9). But, it's really huge for our program to come from where we were two years ago with these guys (1-15 season). We had some standout wrestlers a couple of years ago and they fizzled out and these guys stuck together and rallied behind each other when times were tough. That's probably the thing I'm most proud about was them sticking together. We kept telling them good days are ahead of us and they believed us. It's all hard work from them. It's really the kids. We are just steering the ship and they are the fuel that keeps us going. I'm really excited for our program."
The culmination of the Raiders' hard work in Hershey was their rematch with Fort LeBoeuf in the third-place match, and as expected the match went right down to the wire.
Zimmerman got the Raiders off to a solid start with a 1-0 win over Bison Adam Borgia at 120, but LeBoeuf countered with wins at 126 and 132. Bison Brandon Puckly tech falled Cole Clever 18-3 in 4:31 at 126, while teammate Brad Malinowski beat Jimmy Miller, 7-1.
Brookville answered back with wins from the Zacherl twins. Brock Zacherl scored a key win at 138 when he held off Riley Smith, 3-2, in a battle of state-ranked wrestlers. Zacherl is No. 8, while Smith is 11th at 138.
Brodie Zacherl followed with an 8-0 major decision over Jack Middleton at 145 to give the Raiders a 10-8 lead.
The overall lead flipped in the next two bouts. Bison Kody Pace (No. 5 in state) briefly gave LeBoeuf the lead back at 152 as he edged Zach Vroman 3-2 in double overtime. Pace escaped in the first 30-second double OT rideout period, then held down Vroman in the second one for the victory.
Smith then topped Bison Taylor Harrington 4-0 at 160, while Cudworth got a strange forfeit win at 170. Before Cudworth's bout with Taylor Fox, Klepfer and his staff contended that Fox was ineligible at that weight, but referees allowed the bout to start. Fox ended up scoring a late takedown to score what appeared to be a 3-1 victory.
However, a PIAA representative reviewed the weigh-in sheet during the contest and when things were done it was determined that due to the weight allowances for the day, Fox was only eligible to wrestle at 152 or 160, thus give Cudworth the forfeit and the Raiders a 19-11 lead.
Once things were sorted out, the teams traded wins at 182 and 195. At 182, Bison Craig Cihon (No. 3 in state) beat Tyler Dombrowski 11-0, while Stout pinned Gage Salusky in 2:15 to give Brookville a 10-point lead at 25-15.
LeBoeuf quickly erased that deficit as Evan Daley (No. 4 in state at 220) and Nate Conti each recorded pins in 2:04 over Raiders Brien Alexander and Jake Cieleski at 220 and 285 respectively. Conti's pin was huge for the Bisons, as Cieleski had beaten Conti 2-0 in the Raiders' win at the Ultimate Duals.
Tyler Kuzma made it three wins in a row for LeBoeuf as he beat Devin Joiner, 7-0, at 106 to give the Bisons a five-point lead (30-25) with one bout left.
Constable needed a tech fall or better to give Brookville a chance at winning on criteria, but the senior was facing a state-ranked wrestler in George McGuire (No. 9) Constable couldn't score those necessary bonus points, but he did end the tournament on a strong note as he scored a reversal in the final 12 seconds to edge McGuire 3-2.
To reach the third-place match against LeBoeuf, Brookville pulled off an impressive 32-24 win over Bermudian Springs in the consey semifinals Saturday morning.
Brookville won nine bouts against the Eagles, including five by three points or less. Stout recorded the Raiders' lone pin of the match, while Brock Zacherl posted a 21-5 technical fall. After that, it was all decisions for the Raiders. Smith had arguably the biggest win of the match when he bumped up to 170 and beat Tyler Fitzkee (ranked No. 5 at 170) 5-2. Their match was scoreless late in the third period when Fitzkee reversed Smith for a 2-0 lead.
However, Smith returned the favor in the final 16 seconds and put Fitzkee on his back, scoring three backpoints at the buzzer for a thrilling 5-2 victory. Fitzkee entered the state duals 34-0 but lost three times on the weekend.
Constable also had a big win at 113, beating state-ranked Ted Marines (No. 11) 7-3. Constable's win was much like Smith's as he reversed Marines to his back for a five-point move in the final 25 seconds to come away with the win.
Brookville also pulled out a couple other thrillers in the match. Zimmerman edged Briton Shelton 2-1 in overtime, while Cieleski used a duck-under to score a takedown with one second left in his match to beat Jonathan Jimenez, while Cudworth held off Eagle Jacob Slonaker for a 5-4 victory. Raider Brodie Zacherl used three back points in the third period of his match to seal a 6-3 win Colton Dull.
"On paper, I really didn't think we matched up all that well (with Bermudian Springs)," Klepfer. "But, we won almost all of the toss-ups and that was the difference. We won a lot of close ones, especially down low with Dalton Zimmerman and Brodie Zacherl. I'm really pleased with several efforts, and that was probably the best dual meet we've wrestled all year."
After breezing by District 1 champion Lower Moreland with a 72-0 shutout in last Thursday's first round, the Raiders broke the previous school record for wins in a season (18) with their convincing 35-18 win over District 4 champ Wyalusing Valley Friday morning in the quarterfinals. Cudworth got Brookville going with a first-period pin in the opening bout at 160, decking Tyler Thompson with six seconds left in the period. Cudworth's win was one of nine in the match for the Raiders.
Stout also recorded a fall, while Zimmerman and Clever each recorded major decisions. Smith, Joiner, Constable, Brock Zacherl and Vroman each posted wins as well. Zacherl pulled out an 8-6 overtime win against Tim Kuntz, who was 28-2 entering states. Joiner edged Austin Shaeffer 4-3. Constable topped Brandon Kelley (25-4 coming in) 503, and Vroman beat Tyler Fenton 3-1 in the match's final bout.
The victory over Wyalusing put Brookville into the semifinals against eventual champ Bethlehem Catholic, and the Hawks showed why they have won the last two state team titles. The Raiders never could get anything going against BeCa, which came in with three wrestlers ranked No. 1 in the state at their respective weights and six others ranked No. 12 or better.
That depth showed as the Hawks won 10 of the 14 bouts en route to a lopsided 46-12 win. Stout picked up the Raiders first win, using a four-point third period to finish of Jose Ortiz, 6-2, in the second bout of the match. However, BeCa ripped off seven straight wins to turn a one-point lead (4-3) into a commanding 40-3 advantage.
Brock Zacherl finally got Brookville back on the board at 138 with a convincing 9-2 win over Richie Cruz in a battle of state-ranked wrestlers. Zacherl (No. 8) led 2-1 after one period, then turned it on in the second against Cruz (No. 12). Zacherl tilted Cruz twice for two back points each time before the Hawk escaped. Zacherl then took down Cruz to lead 8-2 after two periods before adding an escape in the third for the final points of the bout.
Twin brother Brodie Zacherl then lost his second straight 5-4 decision of the day, this time to Hawk Aaron Morekin.
Smith and Cudworth finished off the match with back-to-back wins. Smith beat Mark Maloney 8-1 at 160, while Cudworth scored a takedown with 22 seconds remaining to top Nick Cortopassi, 3-1, at 170.
"We had some guys that had some really big weekends," Klepfer said. "Logan (Stout) is our leader, on and off the mat. It's no shock to me the type of wrestler he has turned into. He works extremely hard and he does all the right things. He's one of those guys you love to have. Him and Constable and Smith want the competition. They accept it and get after it. I was really, really happy for some of the guys.
"Brock (Zacherl) beat three state-ranked kids, and Brett had a big win over the Fitzkee kid. But that's how he (Smith) is. He was down there with 10 or 15 seconds left and got the big reversal. But he is a team guy. He moved around in the lineup and wrestled some bigger and stronger guys, but that's what it takes to be down here. You have to be flexible as a team and have guys who are willing to move around for the team. I'm just happy to have the group of guys we have.
Brookville canceled its final regular season dual meet with Smethport and is now off until the D-9 individual tournament.
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