HERSHEY — Brookville squared off against two teams ranked in the Top 4 in the state Friday at the PIAA Class AA Team Wrestling Championships, and the 10th-ranked Raiders went 1-1 to advance to the final day of states at the Giant Center.
Brookville, which beat Lake-Lehman 40-26 in Thursday’s first round, dropped a 51-21 contest to second-ranked Southern Columbia in Friday’s quarterfinals. It was the Raiders second loss in as many years to the Tigers, who also bested Brookville, 29-22, last year on its way to a second-place finish.
Southern Columbia went on to the finals where the Tigers fell to Reynolds 31-23. The title was Reynolds’ third straight and second win in a row over the Tigers in the final.
The Raiders (18-3) had to put the setback behind themselves quickly, as they were back on the mat just two hours later in a second round consolation matchup against fourth-ranked Muncy. The Indians dropped in the consy bracket after falling to third-ranked Saucon Valley, 38-22, in a first round contest Thursday, then beat Newport, 52-24, Friday in a first round consolation match.
On the brink of elimination, it was Brookville that put together an impressive all-around team effort to score a 27-24 upset of a Muncy squad that on paper looked to have the deeper lineup.
And, the Indians showed that to a point as they finished the match with an 8-6 advantage in bouts won. However, the Raiders did the unthinkable and held Muncy without a single bonus point in the match while recording three pins themselves for the decisive points.
Colby Whitehill, Owen Reinsel and Cabe Park all recorded falls in the opening five bouts as Brookville built an early 21-3 lead. Muncy countered with six straight victories — all by decision — to pull even at 21-21 with three bouts remaining.
That’s when Brookville got a pair of huge victories from senior Braden MacBeth and sophomore Nathan Taylor at 182 and 195, respectively.
MacBeth (15-10) hit a five-point move on the edge of the mat in the final eight seconds against Ethan Gush (27-9) to pull out a 6-1 victory to put the Raiders back in top 24-21.
Taylor (14-9) then hit the mat against Michael Kustanbauter (32-5), the No. 12 ranked 182-pounder in the state in a matchup at 195.
Kustanbauter’s resume didn’t faze Taylor, who took the Indian down to his back for a four-point move in the 1-minute first period. The Indian escaped before period’s end to trail 4-1.
Kustanbauter countered with an escape and takedown in the second to pull even at 4-4 just 22 seconds in. The Indian rode out Taylor but was called for a full nelson just past the midway point to give the Raider a 5-4 lead after two periods.
Taylor chose bottom in the third, but Kustanbauter let him up to start the period. Kustanbauter quickly took down Taylor to pull even against at 6-6, and let the Raider up just as quick after a stall with the duo on their feet.
Holding a slim one-point lead, Taylor sealed his huge upset win by taking Kustanbauter down straight to his back with 36 seconds remaining to go up 12-6. Taylor held down the Indian from there to give the Raiders a six-point lead with one bout to go.
That left teammate Tanner LaBenne (15-7) with one main directive — don’t get pinned by Indian Cael Hembury (26-12) in the bout at 220. And, the Raider senior got the job done as he he lost a 7-4 decision to Hembury.
“Rarely you win dual meets when you lose eight bouts, and we lost eight decisions,” said Brookville coach Dave Klepfer. “We had some guys really step up in some big-time situations.
“But, it was a case where we talked before the dual meet and I said, ‘We’re going to battle. I don’t care what the (team) rankings say or where a kid is ranked, you’re going to go out and battle and make them earn every point.’ I felt we did that in every single bout.
“Obviously, Braden MacBeth and Nathan Taylor winning back-to-back after they (Indians) stole the momentum after we had it early was huge. Braden won a big-time match late, then Nathan Taylor beating one of their best kids. I just can’t say enough about our group.
“No one was giving us a chance to win this one, but that’s why you wrestle them. We’ve been that team ranked third or fourth and drop down into the conys and then didn’t rebound quick enough and we left. It’s a group of 18 kids who have put in a ton of work, and that’s why we are where we are. I know the work they put in and watch it every day. I’m real proud of them.”
Whitehill and Reinsel recorded back-to-back falls to open the match.
Whitehill pinned Coty Steele in 41 seconds at 285, while Reinsel decked Alex Maiorana in just 18 seconds as the match turned over the light weights.
Teammate Cayden Walter followed with a 4-1 decision against Chase Crawley at 113. Walter grabbed control of the bout with a takedown late in the first period before putting the win away with a stalling point and escape from the bottom position in the third.
Muncy got on the board at 120 when Grady Oden used an escape and takedown in the third period to edge Raider Josh Popson, 5-3.
Park countered with a 46-second pin of Jacob Hill at 126 to put Brookville up 21-6 before Muncy made its run with six straight wins from 132-170.
State-ranked Indian Bryce Vollman (No. 29, 23-4) then needed a takedown with two seconds left in overtime to edge Raider Parker Fleming (10-12), while Brookville’s Wyatt Kulik (15-10) put up a valiant effort in a 4-0 loss to state-ranked Mario Barberio (No. 14, 30-7) at 138.
Raiders Cody Hetrick (145), Jacob Cable (152), Wyatt Griffin (160) each fought hard in decision losses to Indians with superior records to them, including another state-ranked Indian in Coleman Good (No. 9 at 152, 18-3). Elliot Park (19-7) also suffered a 9-4 setback to Indian Ty Nixon (23-12) at 170.
Nixon’s win pulled Muncy even, setting the stage for the heroics by MacBeth and Taylor that led advanced Brookville into the final day of the state tournament.
Brookville opened its day with the 51-21 loss to Southern Columbia that was closer than the final score might indicate.
The Raiders won just four bouts but lost two others by three points or less in bouts decided in the third period. Southern Columbia also recorded two falls in the third period in bouts that were 2-0 and 2-1 entering the final period.
Brookville’s biggest win came in the second bout of the match when Whitehill (25-0) pinned Tiger Lear Quinton (31-5) in 1:30 in a matchup of Top 8 ranked heavyweights. Whitehill entered the bout ranked fourth, while Quinton was eighth.
Reinsel followed with a second-period pin of Brady Freese in 2:20. Reinsel was up 4-0 entering the second when he pinned the Tiger from the top position in the second.
The Raiders also got win from Cabe Park and Elliot Park.
Cabe Park (10-4) upended Ian Yoder (20-9), 10-6 at 126.
The Raider scored takedowns in each of the first two periods and took a slim 4-3 lead into the final period. Park wasted little time reversing Yoder in the opening seconds of the third before later turning the Tiger for two nearfall points.
He appeared on the verge of a major decision, but Yoder scored an escape and takedown in the final 45 seconds to hold Park to just a decision victory.
Elliot Park captured the Raiders’ final win at 170 when he pinned Brandon Gedman in 4:20. Park took a 4-2 lead into the third period when he decked the Tiger from the top position 20 seconds into the period.
“We were in three tight ones we ended up losing, and two of them we ended up getting pinned,” said Klepfer. “You change those scores, and we win those three bouts, the score is 39-27 or something like that. It’s not something we’re going to talk about, but I wanted them to understand it wasn’t really 51-21 and was a lot closer than that score.
“They’re just a team we’re not capable of beating with our group this year. They are are two or three guys better than us, and that’s just the way it is. But, I was pretty happy with that one too.”