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February 25, 2012

Cyphert battles through injury to win title

SHARON —  Even on one leg, Cochranton’s Cam Cyphert did what was unthinkable to many outside of his hometown at Saturday’s District 10 Class AA Wrestling Tournament.

Cyphert, ranked seventh in the state according to the Pennsylvania Wrestling Rankings, was expected to play third fiddle to Fort LeBoeuf’s Evan Daley and Seneca’s Matt Mongera, who are ranked second and third in the state, respectively, in a stacked 220-pound weight class.

Instead, Cyphert (34-1) was the one who stepped atop the 220-pound podium on Saturday, albeit with a serious limp.

Cyphert twisted his left knee so badly when it was wrapped between the massive legs of the 6-foot-6 Mongera during their semifinal bout that his coaches weren’t sure he’d be able to compete in his next match. But before Cyphert even considered his next bout, he pinned Mongera (23-3) in 4:51.

After hours of trying to ice and rest the leg, Cyphert wrestled Daley (44-4) to a 2-2 tie entering the ultimate tiebreaker, which was won 3-2 by the Cochranton junior.

Cyphert barely cracked a smile as he received his championship medal from head coach John Svirbly. He isn’t a fan of winning close, low-scoring bouts.

“There’s always room to improve,” Cyphert said. “There’s always room to get better. I’ll be satisfied when I’m in Hershey on top of the podium.”

Even if the rankings of Mongera and Daley were stacked against Cyphert, he and the Cardinals knew he could pull it out.

“He’s just always confident in himself,” Svirbly said. “He always believes he can win. He didn’t wrestle like himself, but he gutted it out and sucked it up. He has a ton of heart. To me, he was the most outstanding wrestler in the tournament.”

Cochranton doesn’t know the condition of Cyphert’s left knee, which was heavily iced immediately after he beat Daley. The thoughts of next week’s regional tournament are in his mind, but he didn’t want to miss the chance at a district championship.

“I’m just glad to go out there and win a D-10 title,” Cyphert said. “I don’t like to wrestle like that, but you gotta do what you gotta do with one leg.”

Fort LeBoeuf finished first overall with ease, scoring 206 points. The Bison sent all 12 district qualifiers to regionals.

Reynolds, which had nine regional qualifiers, finished second overall with 165 points. Greenville followed with 112 and Grove City had 90.

Cyphert wasn’t the only upper weight from the area to defy the odds and win a district crown. Union City’s Jeff Burger went from fourth out of Section 1 to first out of the district when he earned a 5-2 decision over Reynolds’ Blake Heim in the championship bout.

Cambridge Springs’ Shawn Reynolds accomplished a similar feat. After injury defaulting into fourth place in Section 1 last week due to a hyper extended elbow, he finished second at 195 pounds after a 9-5 loss to Greenville’s Tyler Gentile on Saturday. In turn, Reynolds, became the Blue Devils’ first wrestler to compete in a district title bout since 1998.

Earlier in the championship round, Jamestown senior Aaron Roberts (36-3) jetted out to a 7-2 lead in the first period before he held onto an 8-7 victory over Fort LeBoeuf’s Brandon Puckly for the 126-pound title. It was a reversal of their Jan. 6 meeting, which was a 7-4 Puckly win.

“I wrestled him in January, and he got a good lead on me. It was tough to come back,” Roberts said. “I thought a good lead (would help). I got the first takedown and kind of rolled with it. I was fortunate to get those other two (takedowns).”

Saegertown’s Tyler Vath (36-2), who is ranked third in the state, was dominant on his way to a district title at 106 pounds. He became the school’s single-season wins leader for a freshman.

“I was really excited about that,” Vath said. “Two of my goals were to be a district champion and break the freshman win record. I hope it’s just the beginning.”

In other finals bouts of note, both Greenville’s Cody Copeland (38-0) and Grove City’s Wes Phipps (33-0) continued their undefeated seasons with district titles. Both are ranked No. 1 in the state.

Cochranton’s Matt Bryer (33-2) dropped to 0-5 against Reynolds’ Dylan D’Urso (33-1), who won his fourth district title by recording a 3-1 decision. D’Urso’s takedown with three seconds remaining broke a 1-1 tie.

Bryer had D’Urso on his back for a moment midway through the second period, but quickly D’Urso scrambled away and back into the neutral position before any points could be scored.

Cochranton’s Robert Boozer (32-9, 138 pounds) and Caleb Peterson (28-12, 145) finished in fifth. Also, the Cardinals’ Austin Andrews (36-4) settled for sixth place after suffering an injury during his 9-4 championship semifinals loss to Union City’s Tim Vargo. Andrews injury defaulted his two consolation bouts because of what Svirbly said was an upper body injury.

Vargo finished second overall.

Cambridge Springs is sending four to regionals, as Weston Stafford (28-8) finished third at 170 pounds. Freshman Dylan Reynolds (31-8) joined his older brother as a regional qualifier. Stafford and the Reynolds brothers will be accompanied at regionals by senior heavyweight Justin East (35-6), who qualified with a sixth-place finish.

In the fifth-place match, East lost a 3-1 overtime decision to Lakeview’s Sam Breese (26-7), who went 3-2 during the tournament to finish fifth. Landon Clayton, who finished second, and Breese were Lakeview’s regional qualifiers.

Three other Saegertown grapplers will head to regionals with Vath, including Justin Mitchell (126), Josh Tomiczek (195) and Branden Stafford (285). Stafford (36-3), Mitchell (31-12) and Tomiczek (31-10) finished third, fourth and fifth overall, respectively.

Conneaut Lake’s only regional qualifier was 120-pounder Kyle Lukowich (33-8), who edged Jamestown’s Jonas Reaugh (36-8) 2-1 in double overtime. Reaugh beat Lukowich 3-1 to win the Section 3 crown last week.

Jamestown’s third regional qualifier is Nick Floch (32-5). He was third.

Maplewood’s Zak Parsons (32-10) had a brilliant first day on Friday, going 2-0 to clinch the Tigers’ only regional berth at 152 pounds. He went 0-3 on Saturday and finished sixth.

The Northwest Regional Tournament is March 2-3 at Sharon High School.


Dan Walk can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

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