By Drew Karpen
March 10, 2013 7:00 a.m. HERSHEY —
They may be polar opposites in terms of size, however Saegertown 106-pounder Devin Brown and Lakeview heavyweight Sam Breese are both the same in one key aspect: They are both state champions.
To start the Class AA tournament on Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey, Brown became the third Panther to stand atop the podium by defeating Bethlehem Catholic’s Luke Karam by fall in overtime.
Then as the Double-A tournament came to a close, Breese recorded a takedown with two seconds remaining in the third period to score a 3-1 decision over Port Allegany’s Nicholas Budd, netting Lakeview its first state champ since 1987.
“I just feel like I am on top of the world right now,” Brown said. “It’s an honor to be first in the state.”
Brown also became the first state champion under head coach Jim Mulligan.
“I was an assistant when Pat (Bradshaw) won so that’s my first as a head coach,” Mulligan said. “I want everyone to feel like they were a part of it. We are all in it together. We have a great coaching staff.”
Brown and Karam featured the top two ranked wrestlers in the state, and the bout did not disappoint.
Each wrestler had a difficult time gaining control in the first period, with neither recording a point.
With 1:12 left in the second period, Brown struck first on a reversal for a 2-0 advantage. As the period was winding down, Karam registered a reversal of his own to tie it up entering the final two minutes of the championship. The score did not change in the final stanza, but Brown’s demeanor throughout the match showed how confident he was in his ability to win.
“I feel like I broke him in the first period,” Brown said. “I felt confident and was just shooting for that takedown.”
Right as overtime started, Brown shot in and got a solid wrap around Karam’s right leg. Brown pulled him in for both legs, lifted and stuck Karam to his back, ending the match at 6:12.
Brown was not shy in winning his first state championship, celebrating with a back flip in the middle of the mat.
“It’s awesome,” Mulligan said. “It was a great win to get the pin in the finals. That guy wrestled us a good match. We knew what he was going to try to do. He slowed the match down and Devin didn’t panic. For him to get that reversal was fantastic. It’s great for Devin and it’s great for our program.”
Breese’s state championship win also ended in dramatic fashion.
Breese was the first to get on the scoreboard with an escape point early in the second. But Budd returned the favor in the third with an escape point of his own.
With the score tied at 1-1 and 25 seconds remaining in the match, the officials called an injury timeout after it appeared Breese had tweaked his knee. When the match resumed, Breese seemed to be in fine shape as he shot on Budd and toppled the Port Allegany wrestler to the mat for a bout-winning takedown right before the final buzzer.
“All the hard work and extra practices and the weight room have paid off,” Breese said. “This is just amazing. That’s not the way I planned it, but a win is a win.”
Breese joins three-time state champion Rodney Wright (1985-87) as the only Sailors to accomplish the feat.
“I talked to Rod (Wright) this morning and he had 100 percent confidence in me,” Breese said. “Coming from him, a three-time state champ, that meant a lot to me.”
“I am so proud of Sam,” Lakeview head coach Tom Tingley said. “He went out and did what he needed to do. He was working hard all year. Doing extra workouts and going to tournaments over the summer. He is really a hard worker and great kid.”
District 10 also had a third state champion in Class AA as Reynolds’ Austin Matthews, who decisioned Coudersport’s Kyle Bova 4-2 to win the 152-pound title.
Cyphert, Reynolds, Vargo
finish in top five
Cochranton’s Cam Cyphert finished his high school career strong, taking home the bronze medal at the 220 pounds.
“It’s huge,” Cyphert said. “I wanted to finish over .500 in my career at Hershey and with that win I was able to do that so I am happy.”
It was no easy task to get third place for Cyphert. In the third place match, Cyphert took some bumps and bruises, and even had some cuts on his face, but that did not stop him from defeating Jake Temple of Avella, 3-2 in an ultimate tiebreaker.
“He battled back,” Cochranton head coach John Svirbly said. “I know it hit him pretty hard losing in the semis.”
With the score tied at 1-1 entering the tiebreaker, both wrestlers did their job on the bottom to record an escape point. With the score tied at 2-2, Cyphert was awarded the bottom in the ultimate tiebreaker and escaped to end his high school career on a high note.
Saegertown’s Dylan Reynolds also placed in this year’s state championships for the Panthers, earning himself a fourth place spot on the podium.
“It’s a decent feeling finishing in fourth place as a sophomore,” Reynolds said. “I came down here wanting to win it but I guess that’s what I have to train for next year. This gives me a lot of motivation. You see all these guys that are four-time state champs and I still have a chance to be a two-time state champ.”
Reynolds had a chance at third but lost a 7-2 decision to Adam Mackie of Brandywine Heights.
Another local wrestler ending his high school career on a high note was Union City’s Tim Vargo. Coming into the fifth place match, Vargo was in the midst of a two-match losing streak, the only time this season he has lost consecutive matches. Vargo ended that skid with an overtime pin at 5:58 over Alexander Gular of Port Allegany.
Vargo jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and looked like he might put the match away early. However, Gular ended the first with an escape and a takedown to make it 4-3. They he earned another escape point in the second to tie the match. Both wrestlers recorded two points in the third on a Gular takedown, which was immediately followed by a reversal by Vargo to tie it at 6-6.
Vargo controlled the overtime period, eventually getting the takedown and pin.
There was one place winner that Saegertown knew before the championship bouts began. After cutting his bottom lip open in Friday’s third round consolation match against Benton’s Matt Welliver, Tyler Vath believed it to be in his best interest to pull out of the seventh place match at 120 pounds.
Vath finished fifth at 106 pounds in last year’s state championships
Vath was scheduled to wrestle Bryan Israel of Saucon Valley on Saturday.
Freshman Nick Monico finished eighth at 126 pounds, giving Saegertown four medalists for the tournament.
“It’s good to see all my hard work paying off,” Monico said. “I have been wrestling since I was in second grade. It’s good to finally come down here and get a payday.”
Monico lost a 3-0 decision in the seventh place match to Andrew Shutz of Wyoming Area.
As a freshman, Monico knows that it was nice to get a sniff at the state championships, but wants to come back for more.
“It was good to get on the podium and get a feel of it,” Monico said. “Now we are just going to come down here and aim for the top. There is no reason to just get on the podium when you can reach the top.”
Saegertown finished third among the teams at the tournament with 46. In first place was team duals champion Bethlehem Catholic with 94.5 points. And second was Benton with 70.