Editor's Note: Taylor Ortz was accorded a berth to nationals on Tuesday. That's missing from this story. Check www.clariongoldeneagles.com for the update.
EDINBORO — He didn’t get the result he wanted in the finals at last Saturday’s Eastern Wrestling League Championships, but Clarion University red-shirt junior Brock Zacherl will head to nationals for the first time.
Zacherl reached the 141-pound finals and dropped his first bout of the season when he was pinned by Cleveland State’s Evan Cheek at the end of the first period.
Still, Zacherl nabbed one of the EWL’s four allotted national berths in the weight class and he’ll wrestle at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland March 15-17.
Joining him will be teammates Dustin Conti and Greg Bulsak. Conti won the EWL title at 197 while Bulsak finished second at 184.
“We were really happy with our performance at EWLs,” Golden Eagles head coach Keith Ferraro said. “We avenged several losses that bothered us earlier in the year. It was a good day, even at the weights where we didn’t qualify for the national tournament.”
The Golden Eagles finished fourth out of seven teams in the point standings with 58 points, behind champion Lock Haven (81.5), Rider (72.5) and host Edinboro (72).
Zacherl officially locked up his national berth in the semifinals, beating 26th-ranked Kyle Shoop of Lock Haven, 6-1. He took Shoop down less than 20 seconds into the first period to open up a lead, and carried a 4-1 advantage into the second period. Zacherl added another takedown to build his advantage to 6-1, but Shoop was not about to go away quietly in the third. Shoop rode Zacherl for the entire second period but could not tilt him for the necessary points as Zacherl punched his ticket to the finals.
Once in the finals, Zacherl and Cheek traded points back-and-forth until Cheek ultimately got the pin late in the first period.
He’ll take a 26-1 record to Cleveland.
Conti reached the 197 finals for the second consecutive season, and beat the same Tristan Sponseller of Lock Haven for the second straight year as well.
Conti led Sponseller 2-1 entering the third period, and took a 4-1 lead in that frame by reversing Sponseller from the down position to start. That ultimately led to a 5-2 decision and a trip to the championship match, where he faced off with Rider’s Ethan Laird and took a 4-2 decision for the title.
Also reaching the finals for the Golden Eagles was another former Brookville standout in Taylor Ortz at 149 pounds. Ortz had a technical fall and pin to reach the finals where he lost an 8-3 decision to top-seeded Ronnie Perry of Lock Haven.
Since the EWL only had one allotted qualifier at the weight, The redshirt freshman Ortz’s season ended at 26-10.
Also for the Golden Eagles, last year’s Brookville state champion Gavin Park turned in a solid rookie season as well. He finished 1-2, decisioning Bloomsburg’s Willy Girard, 6-3, in the quarterfinals before losing to straight to J.R. Wert of Rider (4-1) and Luke Werner of Lock Haven (6-2).
Park’s season ended at 18-15.