By Pete Chiodo
After taking a year off, the Reynolds wrestling team is back at the top of the heap in Class AA. And, boy, did the Raiders earn it, surviving tough challenges from two state-ranked opponents during the District 10 team duals, held Saturday at Sharon High School.
After dispatching Seneca 61-9 in the quarterfinals, Reynolds, ranked fifth in the state by Off the Mat, edged 16th-ranked Saegertown 35-22 in the semifinals, and then narrowly escaped No. 11 Fort LeBoeuf, 28-24, in an intense championship match.
“I tell our guys that in my senior year we were 13-1, but eight matches were decided by five points or less,” said Raiders head coach Casey Taylor, a 1995 graduate of Reynolds High School. “ And I loved it. It’s why you do it. It’s the team. It’s better than 70-0, even if you win 70-0. We’re pumped. It was a great win.”
Fort LeBoeuf led the final match 24-22 with two bouts to go. But at 182, Reynolds’ Austin Moffett scored a wild 7-6 victory over LeBoeuf’s Eli Humes to give the Raiders the lead. Then at 195, Jamar Henry sealed the deal with a 5-3 verdict over Garrett Reinwald.
“It was awesome,” said Taylor. “Just a great match to be involved in; 28-24 is obviously a nailbiter. We needed every one of them — we needed every back point, every escape, every part of the match was necessary. I’m sweating my butt off.”
The title was Reynolds’ 11th overall, and the first for Taylor as head coach.
The Raiders now advance to the PIAA state duals, which begin Thursday at The Giant Center in Hershey.
LeBoeuf, which last year broke Reynolds’ string of seven straight championships, also moves on. On Monday (at a site and time to be determined) the Bison will face WPIAL third seed Chartiers-Houston, a 42-30 winner over Jefferson-Morgan in the District 7 consolation match last night.
Saegertown ended up taking third place, beating 22nd-ranked Greenville 39-21 in the D-10 consy. The Panthers will face District 9 runner-up Brookville at Brookville on Monday at 7 p.m.
“Good stuff,” said Panthers head coach Jim Mulligan. “I’m happy for the kids. I’m happy for the program. We have an opportunity to win this match on Monday. And it will be great for these kids that would never reach the state tournament on their own. That’s what the state duals are about.”
The Panthers did show a little bit of disappointment over the semifinal loss to Reynolds.
“I thought we could have pulled it out,” said junior Matt Humes, who was 3-0 on the day. “A couple bonus points in a couple matches, it could have worked out differently.”
The Panthers and the Raiders were tied at 13-13 through the first six bouts. But Reynolds looked like it was pulling away after winning four of the next five matches, moving ahead 29-16. Humes was the lone exception for Saegertown, notching a 7-1 decision over Cam Cianci at 138.
Saegertown senior Andrew Boylan was able to stop Reynolds’ momentum at 160. The Raiders’ Mike Millero led Boylan 6-3 in the second period and was in on a deep shot when the bout took a dramatic turn.
“There’s this move that coach calls the elevator that works only about 25 percent of the time,” said Boylan. “(Millero) came in hard, so I hit it.”
The move flipped Millero onto his back and Boylan smothered him.
“He was going out of bounds, so I just pulled him in and squeezed.”
Boylan got the pin in 2:51. That cut Reynolds’ lead to 29-22 with two matches remaining. But the Raiders’ Curtis Arnold (170) and Moffett (182) finished things off with back-to-back decisions.
“I feel that we did pretty good,” said Saegertown’s No. 2-ranked 106-pounder Devin Brown. “We came up short with Reynolds, but we made big progress from the last time we wrestled them.”
Brown was 3-0 on the day, getting a forfeit victory and a pair wins by fall, including one over Reynolds’ 12th-ranked Seth Hogue.
Boylan, Dylan Reynolds (182/195) and Tyler Vath (120) were also undefeated during the event.
Along with a forfeit, Reynolds, ranked 12th in the state at 182, added a pair of exciting wins by decision. He beat Greenville’s Justin Reynolds 4-3 and, in the semis against the Raiders, downed the 11th-ranked Henry by the score of 5-2.
Vath, who is ranked sixth in the state at 113, also earned one win by forfeit. He added a major decision over Reynolds’ Nick Nottingham. And he came out on top in one of the more exciting bouts of the day as he and Jamestown’s 11th-ranked 120-pounder Jonas Reaugh went head-to-head.
Vath came from behind to tie the score at 4-4 at the end of regulation. Neither scored in the first overtime. But in the first rideout, Vath caught hold of Reaugh as the Muskies’ senior tried to escape from the bottom and turned his back to the mat to record the pin in 7:27.
“I think he was trying to granby and I just hipped him over,” said Vath. “Hopefully if I see him again I won’t have to come back as much.”
Muskies fall in quarters
Saegertown’s path to third place started with a 63-13 victory over an ailing, Jamestown squad.
“The timing was bad,” said Jamestown head coach Steve Pfaff. “But Saegertown has got a great team. To go against them, we had to be up to 100 percent to try to compete.
“And we had a couple kids go the other way that we thought would win but they got caught. I would have liked to see it been a closer match. But it is what it is. Now we’ve got to get ready for sections.”
Scoring wins for the Muskies was Nick Floch at 132, Jason Shappee at 220 and Keamus Schuhlen at 285.
Tigers tamed by LeBoeuf
Maplewood also bowed out in the quarterfinals, falling to eventual runner-up Fort LeBoeuf 66-3.
Jake Parsons notched the only victory for the Tigers, winning the last bout of the match with a 2-0 victory over Jack Middleton at 170.
“It’s Fort LeBoeuf,” said Maplewood head coach Matt Wilcox. “We knew we were the underdogs, certainly. We didn’t get shut out. We wrestled hard. That’s all I can say. They know what they need to work on.”
And that is?
“They’ve got to realize, now, these guys need to wrestle in the summer. Fort LeBoeuf, Saegertown, Reynolds, Greenville; they all summer wrestle. Maplewood, we don’t. There have been plans the last few years. They’ve just got to give me a commitment to come do it.”
Pete Chiodo can be reached at 724-6370 ext. 275 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.