HERSHEY — For Redbank Valley junior Mason Songer, getting to this year’s PIAA Class 2A Wrestling Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center was a big deal.
While no medal came home with Songer, he certainly grabbed plenty of experience ... and motivation. Going 1-2, Songer finished the year with a 28-13 record.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, going 1-2 at the state tournament, you’re there for a reason,” Songer said Sunday. “I’m also going to try harder next year, not only to make it but to place.”
Songer, a fourth-place finisher from regionals at 113 pounds, opened with a preliminary-round bout against Northern Lebanon senior Kyle Anspach and pinned him in the third period.
Songer was up big at 16-2 before pinning Anspach with 1:07 left in the third period.
It was a strong start for Songer, who battled hard the next two bouts but lost.
“Honestly, I thought my first match was going to be easy,” Songer said. “Then afterwards, I remembered that I was at the state tournament and there are no slackers at this level.”
Indeed, in the first round, Songer matched up with Southeast Region champion Nate Smith, a sophomore from Bishop McDevitt of District 3. Smith went into the weekend ranked third after finishing fifth at 106 last year as a freshman.
And Songer gave him a match, but it was Smith who set the tone and built a lead early. He took Songer down and scored two back points in the first period, then made it 6-0 from the top when he scored two more back points 19 seconds into the second period.
Songer reversed Smith to get on the board and then it was Smith who took injury time at the end of the second then got penalized twice for one point each for stalling, getting Songer to within 6-4. But a third stall call that would’ve been two points didn’t come and Smith held on to win.
Smith went on lose 2-1 to eventual runner-up Brock McMillen, a freshman from Glendale, in the quarterfinals and worked back to a seventh-place finish. He beat Curwensville’s Blake Passarelli, 3-1, to secure seventh.
McMillen wound up notching one of the biggest upsets of the weekend, topping Reynolds’ Beau Bayless, the top-ranked 113-pounder and returning 106-pound state champion, 3-1 in overtime, in the semifinals.
Then in his consolation bout, Songer dueled with Southern Columbia freshman Patrick Edmondson. Songer scored the first takedown in the first period before Edmondson reversed him to tie things early in the second. After Songer reversed him back for a 4-2 lead, Edmondson escaped 13 seconds later, took him down 21 seconds after that and pinned Songer with 37 seconds left in the second period.
“He hit me in a head lock and I tried rolling through,” Songer said. “It’s definitely not the first person he’s thrown that on. I was winning at the time.”
“He dominated the match (against Anspach) and wrestled great,” Bulldogs head coach Mike Kundick said. “All three matches, he wrestled great, but he made a bad mistake against (Edmondson) and you can’t do that against good kids. He had leverage on him. Mason totally dominated him for a minute and a half and then got caught with the oldest move in the book, a head lock. The kid had too much leverage, Mason tried to roll out of it but he couldn’t do it.”
Edmondson went on to beat two more D9 wrestlers in the consolation rounds, Oswayo Valley’s Dylan Pesock and Blake Passarelli to secure a top-eight finish — a third-period pin of Pesock and a 5-4 win over Passarelli. He then lost to Bayless, 3-2, before falling to Montoursville’s Wyatt Lutz, 11-2, in the fifth-place bout.
Songer headed home motivated for a return appearance, with the offseason beginning immediately.
“There are some minor things I need to work on, and I’m definitely going to work, 100 percent so I can be one of the guys on that podium,” Songer said.
Kundick believed that it goes beyond Songer. Along for the trip were some of his teammates and workout partners Brayden Altobelli, Hunter Martz and Ethan Wiant.
“Not only him but the whole team,” Kundick said. “The guys I took down to watch, it was eating their guts out watching him while they weren’t wrestling and that just motivates them for next year.”