HERSHEY — Brookville, which has two PIAA Class AA Team Championship titles on its resume, just put together one of the program’s most memorable trips to Hershey, going 2-1 on Saturday to cap a 4-2 weekend that culminated in a fourth-place finish.
It marked the fourth time in the past eight years Brookville placed in the Top 4 to bring home some state hardware and is the fifth Top 4 finish overall in 11 trips to team states in the event’s 21-year history.
Brookville won the inaugural state team title in 1999 and landed back on top in 2016. The Raiders also finished fourth in 2012 and 2017. On those occasions, for the most part, Brookville entered team states as one of the more heralded teams and featured some state-level star power.
That wasn’t the case this time around as Brookville came in as the 10th-ranked team according to papowerwrestling.com and had just three wrestlers — Colby Whitehill (No. 4 at 285), freshman Owen Reinsel (No. 14 at 106) and sophomore Elliot Park (No. 20 at 170) in the individual state rankings.
On top of that, the Raiders actually dropped two spots from No. 8 to No. 10 after winning the District 9 Class AA title with a convincing 45-21 win against Port Allegany in the finals.
Brookville (20-4) proved those naysayers wrong though with a standout weekend that featured wins against the Nos. 3, 4 and 11 ranked teams in the state. Brookville opened states with a win against Lake-Lehman (40-26) Thursday, but lost to eventual state runner-up and second-ranked Southern Columbia (51-21) in Friday’s quarterfinals.
The Raiders responded in a big way with three straight wins in the consolation bracket. Brookville bested fourth-ranked Muncy, 27-24, in Friday afternoon’s second round of consolations to advance to Saturday.
Brookville opened that final day with a 36-32 victory against 11th-ranked Notre Dame-Gren Pond before edging third-ranked Saucon Valley, 33-32, in the consolation finals.
The victory against the Panthers set up a showdown with Chestnut Ridge in the consolation finals, and it was the sixth-ranked Lions who came away with a 46-18 victory to take home third place.
Whitehill led the Raiders’ charge to fourth, going 6-0 with four pins and a forfeit win. He was the lone Raider to go undefeated.
Reinsel, Cayden Walter, Cabe Park and Braden MacBeth all went 5-1. Reinsel recorded four falls, while Walter and Park had two each. Nathan Taylor added a 3-2 weekend.
Just as important as those wins was the performances by the Raiders who lost that showed an uncanny ability to limit bonus points by their opponents — several of which were state-ranked foes — all weekend long in the team’s four victories.
“Our kids extremely excited, and they should be.” said Klepfer of his team’s performance. “This was really good for the program, and I couldn’t be more pleased with our group. No one was giving us a chance to come down here and do what we did.
“We talk a lot about what we need to do in our room, and the main thing is attitude and effort. If you bring those two things to practice every day, then into the arena, good things usually happen.
“And, that’s what we did. Our guys brought so much attitude and effort to this tournament, and that’s why it happened. Getting on this floor for all those kids is a big deal. There are a handful who will be here as individuals during their careers, but a lot won’t.
“We just put it all together for one good weekend, and I couldn’t be prouder of the kids.”
Brookville opened Saturday with its four-point win (36-32) against D-11 runner-up Notre Dame-Green Pond. The Crusaders jumped out to a quick 16-0 lead after three bouts, but Brookville responded by winning the next six to race out to a 27-16 advantage.
MacBeth jump-started that run with a 7-0 win against state-ranked Tucker Klump (No. 23) at 182. Taylor followed with a forfeit win, while Tanner LaBenne scored a takedown with one second left in overtime to edge Eshan Swartz, 4-2, at 220.
Whitehill (28-0) then pinned Anthony Schiraldi in 46 seconds at heavyweight, while Reinsel upended Evan Maag, 11-6, in a battle of state-ranked 106 pounders. Reinsel came in No. 14, while Maag was No. 18.
Walter capped the Brookville run by pinning Tony Morello in 2:08 at 113.
The teams then traded wins, with a 5-0 win by Cabe Park against Joshua Bauman being sandwiched by a forfeit win and major decision by the Crusaders.
Brookville’s Parker Fleming then did his job against sixth-ranked Brandan Chlestos (33-8) at 132, as he only gve up an extra team point in a 11-0 setback to the Crusader.
Teammate Wyatt Kulik then sealed Brookville’s win when he decked Jacob Wehr in 1:54 to put the Raiders up 10 (36-26) with one bout remaining — which Brookville forfeited. Kulik was up 5-0 at the time of the fall.
Next up for Brookville was a showdown with Saucon Valley in a match that went down the very end. And just like against Notre Dame, the Raiders were able to seal the “W” with one bout remaining, which afforded them the opportunity to forfeit again to set the final.
Brookville finished with an 8-6 edge in wins against Notre Dame, but the Raiders and Saucon Valley each collected seven in the consolation semifinals matchup. The difference was four pins by Brookville that led to a 12-11 advantage in bonus points that was the deciding factor.
After the Panthers won the opening bout, Elliot Park and MacBeth captured back-to-back wins to give the Raiders an early 6-3 lead. Park beat Jarrett Hirschbeck, 12-8, while MacBeth (18-10) used a takedown late in the third period to knock off state-ranked Bradyn Lugardo (No. 15, 19-10), 3-2.
Saucon Valley countered with a pin, but Brookville responded by winning five of the next six bouts to build a commanding 33-13 lead with four bouts remaining.
LaBenne started that stretch with a 6-2 win against Jared Harka at 220. The Raider senior rolled through from the bottom position in the third for a reversal as part of a four-point move that have him the win.
Whitehill, Reinsel and Walter followed with pins.
Whitehill, ranked fourth in the state, pinned ninth-ranked Nickolas Warnke in 4:41, while Reinsel flattened Cael (23-13) 22 seconds into the second period in their bout at 106. Walter decked Connor Nicholas in 1:17 at 113.
The Panthers momentarily halted the Raiders’ run with a pin of its own at 120, but Cabe Park answered right back with a 31-second fall against Ryan Gilbert.
Saucon Valley tried to make a comeback in the final four bouts, getting a pin from Joshua Jones, the top ranked wrestler in the state at 132, and a 14-6 major decision by fifth-ranked Thomas Spirk (31-6) over Kulik at 138.
That outcome, coupled with a spirited effort by Raider Cody Hetrick in a 4-2 loss to 10th-ranked Nicholas Rosengrant at 145, sealed Brooville’s overall win as the Raiders led 33-26 entering the final bout.
Brookville’s run through the consy bracket came to an end in the third-place match though, as Chestnut Ridge proved to have too much firepower. The Lions came in with five state-ranked wrestlers and all five secured wins — three via fall.
Ridge, which dropped a heartbreaker to Southern Columbia in Friday night’s semifinals, won nine bouts of the 14 weights while putting another trophy from team states in its showcase.
Four of Brookville’s five wins were decisions, with Wyatt Griffin receiving a forfeit in the final bout with the outcome decided.
MacBeth collected the Raiders’ first win, a 3-0 decision of Brodie Harbaugh at 195 that made it 9-3 at the time. MacBeth scored all his points in the second period.
Whitehill won two bouts later, pulling out a hard-fought 8-4 win against Dalton Seace (26-7). The Raider hit a five-point move in the first period to go up 5-0 and added an escape early in the second for a 6-0 lead.
Seace escaped himself in the third, but Whitehill countered with a takedown. Looking for bonus points, Whitehill let the Lion up and went for a big move late in the match, but Seace got around the Raider for the takdown in the closing seconds to set the final.
A pair of tight bouts followed.
At 106, Ridge freshman Kai Burkett (27-3) used a first-period takedown to edge Reinsel (26-3) in a battle of state-ranked freshman. Burkett entered the contest sixth in the state. Each rode the other out in the second and third periods.
Brookville got a close one back at 113 when Walter pulled out a 5-3 win in sudden victory against Nathan Holderbaum.
The Lion took a 3-2 lesad into the third period and appeared on his way to riding out Walter for the win. However, the Raider broke free for an escape just before the final buzzer sounded to force overtime.
Walter then came up with the winning takedown in OT to snatch a win from the jaws of defeat to pull the Raiders within nine points at 18-9.
Ridge proceeded to win the ensuing five bouts to put the match away up 46-12 with two contests remaining.
Brookville ended on a high note as Jacob Cable used an escape with 45 seconds left in his match against Daniel Moore at 152 to pull out a 5-4 victory before the Lions forfeited to Griffin to end things.
“We had some guys find themselves this weekend, guys who are really starting to click at the right time,” said Klepfer. “Nathan Taylor one of those kids. Braden MacBeth and Cayden Walter also are starting to hit their stride at the right time.”
The Raiders host Cranberry Tuesday for Senior Night.