HERSHEY — The Brookville wrestling team has certainly made a name for itself at the state level in recent years, and the program brought another large contingent to the 2017 PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships in Hershey with seven Raiders hitting the mats Thursday at Giant Center.
The day netted a bagged if mixed results for Brookville, as it placed three wrestlers — senior Gavin Park and juniors Caleb Hetrick and Xavier Molnar — in today’s quarterfinals while having a trio of other wrestlers stay alive in hopes of landing on the podium in Hershey.
Seniors Keelan Kunselman and Noah Cieleski, along with junior Tyler Cook, each went 1-1 to reach Day 2. Brookville’s lone entrant not to advance out of Day 1 was junior Dontae Constable, and he came oh so close to winning his first-round consolation match to join his teammates.
Park (40-3) made quick work of Newport’s Isaiah Bryner (34-12) in their first-round bout at 120, as he quickly put Bryner on his back in the first period and pinned him in 1:03.
That fall put Park, a seventh-place finisher a year ago, in today’s quarterfinals against Line Mountain senior Cole Hauck (41-6), with the winner being guaranteed a state medal.
Hetrick (41-3) also opened his state tournament with a fall, as the Raider pinned Bermudian Springs senior Ashton West (41-6) in 2:30. Hetrick, who placed eighth in 2016, battles another returning qualifier in the quarterfinals in Pen Argyl junior Chase Anklam (32-4). Anklam finished sixth a year ago.
Park and Hetrick, both three-time state qualifiers, were joined in the quarterfinals by state newcomer Xavier Molnar (37-7), who used a big first-period move to help knock off Johnstown’s Exree Loe (21-6), 9-4.
Loe opened the scoring in the Raider with a first-period takedown, but Molnar reversed the Trojan to his back for a five-point move and led 5-2 after one period. Molnar added an escape in the second period before Loe cut the lead to 6-4 with a reversal from the bottom position in the third.
However, Molnar broke free for an escape and sealed the victory with a takedown with 18 seconds remaining.
Molnar now wrestles Mifflinburg senior Luke Walter (32-12), the fourth-place finisher from the Northeast Region. Walter knocked off Upper Dauphin sophomore Donny Gelnett (31-9), the Southeast Region champ, 4-3, in Thursday’s first round.
Kunselman (30-12) will have to travel the long road back if he is to win a second state medal. The Raider, who placed fifth a year ago, dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Notre Dame-Green Pond sophomore Richie Markulics (41-3) in the 113-pound first round Thursday. Markulics, an eighth-place finisher in 2016, scored all the points he needed on a second-period reversal.
Kunselman did earn an escape in the third, but was unable to come up with a takedown to pull out the victory.
The loss dropped Kunselman in the consolation bracket, where he faced a familiar face in Curwensville sophomore Blake Passarelli (29-8), a two-time state qualifier.
Kunselman seized control of the bout with a first-period takedown before adding three backpoints with two seconds left in the period to lead 5-0.
The Raider extended that lead in the second with an escape to go along with a stalling point and penalty point to lead 8-0 after two periods.
Passarelli chose neutral in the third, and the pair battled on their feet the entire way with Kunselman coming away with the 8-0 victory to stay live and knock Passarelli out of the tournament.
Kunselman now faces Wilson Area sophomore Marckis Brandford (32-10) in today’s second round of consolations.
Cieleski opened his day with a hard-fought 6-4 win over Eastern York’s Jahshim Snyder (32-8). the pair entered the third period even at 3-3, with Cieleski scoring is three points on a tilt in the second period.
The Raider chose bottom in the third and Snyder let him up to start the period, giving Cieleski a 4-3 edge. The two then battled on their feet for most of the period before Cieleski scored a takedown with 35 seconds to go to all but seal the victory.
With a win under his belt — No. 99 in his career — Cieleski looked to hit the century mark in a first-round matchup with Troy senior Zachery Zimmerman (31-3), the Northeast champ.
Cieleski only trailed Zimmerman, a fifth-place medalist a year ago, 2-1 entering the third period. However, Zimmerman used a quick escape, and then a pair of takedowns, to upend the Raider 7-3.
Cieleski will look to stay alive — and notch his 100th career victory at the same time — today against Susquehanna Township senior Devin Evans (35-8) in the second round of consolations.
Brookville’s final Day 2 qualifier is Cook, who dropped a 9-1 contest to South Side Beaver junior Bishop McCoy (33-4) in his 220-pound first-round match before bouncing back to pin Northern Lebanon senior Hunter Wallace (35-22) in the consolation bracket.
Cook (38-6) was leading Wallace 3-0 when he pinned him from the top position 25 seconds into the third period.
The Raider big man now faces Bishop McDevitt (District 11) junior Nasir Pettus (39-7) in the second round of consolations.
Constable (25-16) was pinned by Northern Lebanon senior Trevor Leonard (43-13), a returning qualifier, in 3:48 in their 132-pound first-round contest. The Raider junior then lost a true heartbreaker in the consolation bracket as Everett junior Liam Flaherty (32-7) edged Constable, 2-1, in an ultimate tiebreaker match,
The two traded escapes in the second and third periods and went into overtime tied 1-1. No one scored in the first OT period, then both held the other down in the two 30-second rideout periods.
Constable had choice in the ultimate tiebreaker period having scored first, and he elected to go bottom. However, the Raider couldn’t escape from the second straight 30-second period as Flaherty came away with the win.