HERSHEY — The Tri-County Area enjoyed a strong opening day at the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships, with five of the eight local entrants advancing to Day 2 while posting a combined record of 4-8.
DuBois freshman Ed Scott and junior teammate Kolby Ho, along with Clearfield junior Luke McGonigal, all won their first-round matches to reach today’s quarterfinals.
That trio will be joined on the mats Friday in Hershey by DuBois freshman Trenton Donahue and St. Marys sophomore Tyler Dilley — both of whom lived to fight another day after coming in as regional champs.
Dilley went 1-2 Thursday, while Donahue lost his first-round bout but got a bye into the second round of consolations.
DuBois senior Dave Henninger and sophomore Dalton Woodrow and St. Marys sophomore Alec Bittler each went 0-2 and were eliminated Thursday.
Scott (36-1) got DuBois going on the day with a hard-fought 4-2 tiebreaker win over Belle-Vernon senior Jacob Dunlap (27-5) in their 113-pound first-round bout.
Dunlap opened the scoring with a first-period takedown, but Scott countered with an escape later in the period and another escape early in the second position to even the score at 2-2.
The Beaver then rode Dunlap the entire third period, as the match went to overtime knotted up at 2-2. Neither scored in the first overtime, then Scott rode out Dunlap again in the first 30-second tiebreaker period.
Scott then chose bottom in the second tiebreaker period and reversed Dunlap to come away with the 4-2 victory, which propelled the freshman into today’s quarterfinals against Nazareth sophomore Sean Pierson (23-5), the Northeast Regional champ.
Pierson scored a 5-3 win over Spring Grove junior Dalton Rohrbaugh in Thursday’s first-round. Rohrbaugh was a third-place finisher a year ago.
Ho (35-3), making his second trip to states in three years, came out aggressive from the get-go against Lower Dauhpin freshman TT Elhajj (30-7) and controlled their matchup throughout to reach the 132-pound quarterfinals.
The Beaver scored a pair of takedowns in the first period to grab a 4-2 lead. Ho carried that momentum into the second period and added to his lead with an escape and two more takedowns, as he took a 9-4 advantage in the final period.
Elhajj chose bottom in the third and earned an escape from the Beaver to make it 9-5, but Ho sealed his victory with his fifth takedown in an 11-5 win.
Next up for Ho is two-time state medalist Zack Trampe (36-1) of Council Rock South. Trampe placed sixth last year and was a state runner-up as a sophomore.
Donahue (36-3) will join Scott and Ho in hitting the mats for a second day at the Giant Center.
The freshman had a rough states debut, as he dropped an 8-4 decision to Council Rock South sophomore Maximino Mendez (44-8). Mendez scored a takedown in all three periods on his way to the victory.
The loss dropped Donahue into the consolation bracket, where he faces Pottsville sophomore Nick Onea (35-11) in the second round.
While those three Beavers lived to fight another day, Woodrow and Henninger weren’t so lucky.
Woodrow (31-9), making his second straight trip to Hershey, started his day with an 8-3 loss to Central Dauphin junior Chris Wright (43-4).
The Beaver actually took a 3-2 lead into the third period after reversing Wright from the bottom position in the second. However, Wright evened the score at 3-3 on a stalling point that changed the complexion of the match.
Woodrow was then forced to be a little more aggressive, and Wright reversed the Beaver, eventually putting him on his back for three nearfall points to seal the victory.
The loss dropped Woodrow into the consey bracket, where he suffered a tough 4-2 setback to Spring Grove sophomore Clay Baker (28-11).
Baker opened the scoring with a first-period takedown, but Woodrow countered with a reversal to even the score at 2-2 after one period. Baker then chose bottom in the second and Woodrow rode him the entire period.
Baker returned the favor in the third, but also was able to turn Woodrow for two backpoints in the process to pull out the 4-2 victory to stay alive in the tournament.
As for Henninger (34-13), the senior lost his states debut 11-3 to Hazleton senior Carson Kinney (35-9). Kinney used a five-point second period and four-point third to seize control of the match.
Henninger then looked to bounce back in the consolation bracket, but he saw his stay in Hershey come to an end when he was pinned by Garnet Valley senior Ryan Mortimer (36-10) in 2:20.
McGonigal (34-1), a three-time state qualifier, opened his journey to an elusive first medal with the win over Hoover.
After a scoreless first period, Hoover opened the scoring with a second-period escape. It looked like Hoover might take that slim advantage into the third, but McGonigal scored a takedown with 10 seconds left in the period in what proved to be the winning-move of the match.
The Bison took that 2-1 lead into the third and tacked on an escape of his own to go up 3-1 before battling Hoover on his feet the remainder of the match.
With the win, McGonigal moved on to face Pottsgrove senior Ryan Finn (32-4) in today’s quarters. Finn edged Dallas senior Xavier Barber 5-4 in their first-round matchup.
Dilley and Bittler helped put St. Marys back on the state wrestling map, as the duo are the Dutchmen’s first qualifiers since 2010 and first under current head coach Dominic Surra.
Both lost their openers Thursday.
Dilley (25-5) fell 4-0 to Council Rock North senior Aidan Burke (16-7) in the 120-pound first round, while Northampton senior Daniel Moran tech falled Bittler, 23-8 in 4:53 in the first round at 138. Moran is a three-time state medalist who has a fifth, fourth and second-place finish on is resume.
Dilley bounced back from his loss to pull out a tight 5-4 win over Altoona’s Hunter Hileman (30-9) — who Dilley beat 5-0 in an ultimate tiebreaker match in the regional semifinals last weekend.
The Dutchmen scored three huge backpoints from the top position in the second period to take a 3-0 lead. Dilley added to his lead with an escape seven seconds into the third period, only to have Hileman take him down.
The Mountain Lion let Dilley up searching for another takedown trailing 5-2. Hileman managed to take Dilley down again, but it came with only two seconds remaining as the Dutchmen held on for the 5-4 victory.
Dilley now faces Franklin Regional sophomore Colton Camacho (35-8) in today’s second round of consolations as he looks to keep alive his dream of winning a state medal.
While Dilley extended his stay in Hershey by at least one more day, his teammate wasn’t so fortunate as Bittler lost a heartbreaking 3-2 consey bout to Bethlehem Catholic sophomore Luca Frinzi (26-17).
After a scoreless first period, Bittler grabbed the lead without escaping from the bottom in the second as Frinzi was hit twice for stalling.
Frinzi quickly erased that deficit with an escape 13 seconds in the third, then took down Bittler to go up 3-1.
Bittler (25-6) earned an escape with 1:03 to go to get within a point but was unable to get in deep on Frinzi to score the winning takedown and saw his season come to an end.