SHARON — Putting two of its state qualifiers in the finals at last Saturday’s Class 2A Northwest Regional Tournament at Sharon High School, the Brookville Raiders wrestling team went 1-1.
Bringing home his second title was senior Caleb Hetrick, who heads to Hershey this week for the fourth time. He joins Taylor Ortz as the only four-time state qualifier in program history.
Hetrick also seeks a third state medal and only Ortz, Brock Zacherl and Jason Gilligan have done that.
Hetrick pulled out a highly-contested 6-5 win at 145 pounds against Reynolds’ Hunter Michaels.
And in the heavyweight finals, Raiders sophomore Colby Whitehill dropped a 1-0 decision to Curwensville’s Steve McClure, who had lost twice to Whitehill earlier, including a 6-2 overtime decision in the D9 finals.
Those two along with senior Dontae Constable, who finished fourth at 138 (see accompanying story), will start the state tournament Thursday’s at Hershey’s Giant Center.
Hetrick and Michaels are both Clarion University recruits, so the familiarity was there and the battle fierce in a hotly contested bout with a couple of key calls that wound up benefiting Hetrick.
Hetrick scored the first points with a first-period takedown, but Michaels, on top, tilted Hetrick and got him in a split to where a pin was looking very likely until the official stopped it for potentially dangerous, apparently gauging Hetrick as being hurt.
“I know a lot of people said that I called injury time but it’s one of the coach’s team rules that if you call for injury time, you’re disqualified and he stops the match,” said an emotional Hetrick, who assured that’s not what he did. Neither Michaels or his coach Casey Taylor felt that was the case as well.
“I was surprised he stopped it, so it was one of those situations where we regrouped and came back and got our one point after that and got back in on his legs a couple more times,” Brookville head coach Dave Klepfer said. “We just didn’t finish them off twice.”
Hetrick wound up giving up four points on the stoppage, but got a point back with an escape to cut it to 4-3 going into the third. Hetrick cut Michaels to start the third and trailed 5-3 and after Michaels used injury time coming off the mat with a flurry with 1:17 left, Michaels was penalized a point for an illegal somersault to get Hetrick within 5-4. Then with two seconds left, Hetrick took Michaels down on the edge of the mat to win 6-5.
Hetrick, now 32-5, wasn’t sure what the penalty point was for and Klepfer wasn’t sure it was worth a penalty point, but reserved judgment until seeing it again on tape.
“I knew I needed a takedown to win it,” Hetrick said. “I honestly don’t what the penalty point was for. Obviously, it helped, but without that I needed to tie it up and the plan was to cut him and take him down again.
“(The final takedown) was one of those positions we work on not that often throughout the season and it’s more of a freestyle thing. It was a position where if you needed a last-minute move … I don’t even know what to call it, an arm throw or whatever but I felt it, it was there and it felt right and went through with it.”
Hetrick breezed to the finals with a technical fall over Cochranton’s Kalob Brown and second-period pin over No. 9-ranked and returning state medalist Michael Doerflinger of Slippery Rock in the semifinals.
And now it’s off to states for Hetrick, who turned some heads with his drop to 145 after medaling twice at 152 the past two years.
“The biggest thing (about regional title) is where it puts me next weekend at states,” Hetrick said. “It’s the point of doing the best that I can because it puts me in a better spot for next week. Obviously, the goal next week is to win a state title.”
McClure had lost both bouts to Whitehill during the season after beating him at regionals last year. Whitehill beat McClure 3-0 during the regular season before the district finals matchup.
This time around, McClure rode out Whitehill in the second period. Whitehill let McClure go 17 seconds in the third period and Whitehill couldn’t score the rest of the way on McClure who makes his first trip to states.
“You have to get off the bottom,” Klepfer said. “He had the leg up once or twice there, but the difference is you have to get off the bottom. We got to our feet a bunch of times. He wasn’t doing a lot on top and he couldn’t get out. You can’t ridden out in this part of the game and that was the difference.”
Earlier, Whitehill had to grind out a 2-1 overtime rideout win over Reynolds’ Derek Skeehan in the quarterfinals before majoring No. 13 Collin Askins of Harbor Creek 12-2 in the semifinals.
Whitehill takes a 37-4 record to states and is certainly a contender to earn a state medal considering his No. 6 state ranking going into last weekend. It’ll be his first trip to Hershey individually.
“He’s a 10th-grader who had a heckuva tournament, he’s making the trip (to states) and that’s what’s important.
“But (the bout vs. McClure) is one we wanted for sure.”
Whitehill is the first Raiders heavyweight to reach states since two-time state medalist Eli Morres in 2006-07.