HERSHEY — The Brookville wrestling team wrapped up another impressive season Saturday at the PIAA Class AA Championships by capturing four medals en route to a sixth-place finish in the team standings with 74 points.
Brookville, which took five wrestlers to Hershey, put its four medalists into Friday night’s semifinals — marking the first time they did that since 1999. The Raiders crowned a pair of state champs in the late Jason Gilligan and Jeremy Reitz.
This time around Brookville crowned one state champ as senior heavyweight Colby Whitehill became the school’s first two-time PIAA gold medalist.
Whitehill was joined on the podium by a trio of first-time state medalists in juniors Cayden Walter (113) and Nathan Taylor (220) and sophomore Owen Reinsel (113). Walter was the lone one of the trio to compete at states before.
Reinsel and Taylor each placed fourth, while Walter finished sixth.
Reinsel (37-7) finally won the first state medal he despately coveted dating back to his Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling days. The Raider had lost in the blood round at states — PJWs and last year as a freshman in Hershey — each of the previous five years.
All that changed this year as he won his first two bouts to reach the 113-pound semifinals Friday night to guarantee himself that precious first medal. He knocked off Hamburg’s Parker Davidson, 7-3, and Forest Hills’ Easton Toth, 7-2.
The Raider’s run in the winner’s bracket was stopped there, as he dropped a 4-0 contest to South Park junior Joey Fischer (44-3), who went to finish as the state runner-up. Fischer lost a tight 4-2 match-up with Reynolds’ Garey Steen in the finals.
As for Reinsel, he bounced back from the loss to Fischer and edged Chestnut Ridge junior Kai Burkett, 2-1, in the consolation semifinals. Burkett (39-8) went to place fifth for the second straight year.
That big win for Reinsel put the Raider in Saturday afternoon’s bronze medal match against Notre Dame-Green Pond junior Brett Ungar (46-3), a New Jersey state champ a year ago who transferred to the school this year. Unger was knocked into the loser’s bracket by way of a 3-2 loss to Steen in the semis.
Ungar won the match-up with Reinsel, 4-0, to take home the bronze medal. Ungar took a 2-0 lead into the final period, where he reversed Reinsel with 13 seconds remaining as the Raider was trying to turn him for backpoints to either tie or win the match.
“This is my eighth time at states all through PJWs and stuff, and my first time ever placing. So, I’m pretty pumped about that,” said Reinsel. “The five previous years I lost in the blood round every time, so I haven’t had good luck with that (before).
“We all put in a lot of work over the summer, and it’s definitely paid off. Cayden and I didn’t want to cut weight and believe coach about placing at states if we did. But, we ended up trusting him and we both placed, so it definitely paid off.”
Taylor (38-7) joined Reinsel in going 3-2 on the weekend. He pinned his way to the 220-pound semifinals. Taylor decked Fort Cherry’s Robbie West in 2:20 in the first round, then reversed Mount Union senior Jake Ryan to his back in the second period of their quarterfinal bout en route to flattening the Trojan in 3:09.
Ryan, who lost Whitehill in last year’s heayweight state finals, took a 4-1 lead into the second period. Ryan (40-5) went on to place fifth.
Taylor was then pinned in the semifinals by Montoursville senior Cameron Wood (47-3) in 1:37. Wood proceeded to win the state title with a 4-3 win against Wilson Area’s Kolby Flank.
The Raider responded with a dominant 15-2 win against Eisenhower’s Cale Black in the consy semifinals. Like Reinsel, Taylor was unable to end the season with a win, as he fell 4-0 in the third-place match to Chestnut Ridge senior Duane Knisely (43-4).
Walter (33-8) had an interesting journey to the 106-pound semifinals as he won a pair of tight bouts.
He scored a takedown in overtime to edge South Williamport’s Robert Gardner in the first round before pulling out a 4-0 win against West Perry sophomore Deven Jackson (38-8) in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Jackson, who had both legs amputated just below the knee, became one of the stories of the weekend. He bounced back from the loss and won three straight consy matches on his way to placing fourth.
Walter opened the scoring with a second-period escape before turning Jackson for three nearfall points from the top position in the third to seal the win.
With a medal in hand, Walter was knocked out of the winner’s bracket by Montoursville freshman Branden Wentzel (46-7), who went on to win the state title.
Walter then lost a 7-4 contest to Wilson Area’s Jaden Pepe in the consy semifinals to drop into Saturday’s fifth-place bout. Pepe took a slim 4-3 lead to the third, where he used an escape and takedown to capture the victory.
Looking to end his season with a win, Walter lost his third straight after reaching the semifinals as Notre Dame-Green Pond sophomore Evan Maag (35-11) upended him 11-4.
“I came down here and was ranked fifth, and it (5th place) came down to me and a kid (Maag) I wrestled earlier in the year at team states,” said Walter. “I got two penalty points called on me at team states and that ended up being the match-deciding points.
“You have some of those kids you wrestle that get themselves into tacky situations, so they hurry up and try to find easy ways to get out of them to catch themselves a break.
“Me personally, I feel like that’s what he did against me because he knew he was in a troubled spot and called i (injury time) and got himself out of it. With the little time left, I probably should have tried to shoot to to try to tie it up but tried some desperation stuff and threw a headlock. I felt like i had it there but he took me down.
“It does feel good to get up on the podium though, and only a place lower then what I was suppose to get. At beginning of year, my goal was to just to make it through regionals and get to states. To be a district and regional champ, and sixth in the state, I couldn’t be any happier with myself at the moment.”