ALTOONA — St. Marys senior Zac Becker put everything together in his final high school season and will end his career where every wrestler dreams of going — Hershey for the state championships.
Becker (32-5) went 2-1 over the weekend at the Class AAA Northwest Regional Tournament and punched his ticket to Chocolatetown with a second-place place finish at 170 pounds.
Becker, who had a first-round bye, used a late reversal to edge Central Mountain’s Tanner Weaver (33-6), 4-2, in Friday;s 170-pound quarterfinals, then punched his ticket to Hershey with a 9-4 win against Philipsburg-Osceola’s Ian Klinger (20-8) in Saturday’s semifinals.
Weaver went on to beat Klinger, 10-5, in the third-place match to adance to states.
The Dutchman’s win over Klinger put him in the finals against one of the nation’s top wrestlers — Mifflin County senior Trent Hidlay (39-0), the defending state champ at 160.
And, Hidlay showed why he has that billing, as he racked up the points in a 23-8 technical fall over Becker in 4:18 to claim yet another regional title. The victory was the 150th of Hidlay’s career, which is the most in school history.
Becker was the one shining star on what was otherwise a tough weekend in Altoona for St. Marys, as its other eight regional qualifiers combined to go just 5-16.
Freshman Marco Paropacic came the closest to joining Becker in Hershey. He moved up the No. 1 seed from District 4/9 for the weekend when district champ Chandler Ho of DuBois was forced to pull out due to injury.
Paropacic (106, 4-6), who returned to the Dutch just before districts, made the most of his opportunity. He upended Meadville’s Vincent Rinella (29-8), the D-10 runner-up, 5-0 in Friday’s quarterfinals. Rinella battled back to place third to reach states.
However, the Dutchmen went 0-2 on Saturday and saw his weekend end two wins shy of going to states. Altoona freshman Matt Sarbo (30-5) who went on to win the title, pinned Paropacic in 58 seconds in the semifinals. Then, Bald Eagle Area’s Cooper Gilham (30-7) bested the Dutchman, 5-2, in the consolation semifinals. Gilham placed fourth on the weekend.
Sophomore teammate Tylor Herzing (120, 26-12) went 2-2 on the weekend, while junior Alec Bittler (145) and senior Tim Beimel (160) each won their openers before losing two in a row. Bittler (26-6) was a returning third-place finisher at 138. Beimel (10-8) was forced to default out of the tourney after his first loss.
The trio of sophomore Gregory Tettis (126, 9-19), senior Hayden Tettis (132, 20-12) and sophomore Johnny Wittman (138, 16-14) each went 0-2 on the weekend.