By Frank Foreman
Sam Breese now knows how it feels to be perfect.
Breese finished with an undefeated season record of 35-0, with win No. 35 being the sweetest one of all.
The Lakeview senior stared into the face of the pressure that comes with defending a title, and made the Giant Center in Hershey feel like home. Undeniable talent and an incredible determination are the hallmarks of Breese’s approach to wrestling, and for the second straight year, he can call himself a champion.
Breese successfully defended his heavyweight title Saturday, capping off an incredible wrestling career in the most appropriate way.
“A bunch of weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Breese said as his gold medal hung around his neck. “The goal of my whole wrestling career has been to have an undefeated season, and it just feels so good to accomplish that.”
Breese defeated Pen Argyl’s Brady Mutton in the championship bout in a 3-2 decision in a tight match full of excitement and power.
After a scoreless first period, Mutton chose down to start the second and promptly reversed Breese to take a surprising 2-0 lead.
Though the crowd at the Giant Center thought they might witness an upset, anyone who knows Breese or has seen him wrestle knew there was no need to panic. Most importantly, Breese knew that too.
Moments after the reversal, Breese flipped the script and reversed Mutton to even the bout at 2-2.
Breese chose the down position to start the third, and escaped midway through the period. From there, the senior avoided Mutton’s attack, and threw his hands in the air in celebration as the buzzer sounded on his phenomenal career.
“I knew I had to perform and work harder this year,” Breese said. “I felt way more pressure this year, and I was way more nervous this year trying to repeat.”
As for going undefeated and winning a second title in as many years, Breese will have plenty of time to enjoy it.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Breese said. “It will hit me on the ride home.”
Reynolds earns bronze for Panthers
He had aspirations of a championship at 182 pounds, but for Saegertown’s Dylan Reynolds, a third-place finish isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Reynolds wrestled the third-place bout the way he wanted, using a steady pace and brute strength to earn a 2-1 victory over Montogomery’s Isaiah Bobotas in a tiebreaker.
The No. 3 spot in the state is quite an accomplishment, but for such a determined wrestler like Reynolds, only gold will suffice.
“My goal was a state championship this year, but it didn’t happen,” Reynolds said. “I’ll just have to work harder to get it next year.”
Reynolds bounced back after losing in the semifinals on Friday to win the bronze, a finish that Saegertown head coach Jim Mulligan is convinced is just the beginning.
“Dylan will make a huge jump next summer,” Mulligan said. “We expect him to move up a weight, and he knows what he has to do to get to the top of the podium.”
Vath, Monico drop consolation bouts
After a strong start to the tournament that saw Saegertown junior Tyler Vath reach the semifinals, two consecutive losses in the consolation bracket dropped Vath to a fourth place finish at 132 pounds.
The second of those two losses came in the third-place bout, where he lost a 5-2 decision to Lake-Lehman’s Austin Harry.
Vath held a 1-0 lead after an escape in the second period, but a late takedown by Harry at the end of the second made it 2-1. Harry followed up with an escape and a second takedown to pick up the win.
The third Panther to capture a medal Saturday was 138-pound sophomore Nick Monico.
Monico lost his preliminary bout Thursday morning, but battled his way through the consolation bracket to earn a shot at fifth place.
In the fifth-place bout, Monico gave up a reversal to Palmerton’s Josh Evans in the third period that surrendered the lead, giving Evans a 2-1 advantage. Evans was able to hold on to get the win, giving Monico a sixth-place medal.
Monico made a return trip to the podium, improving on his eighth-place finish from a year ago.
“It’s good to be back up there, but it certainly wasn’t what I wanted or expected,” Monico said.
Monico, who lost three matches during states by one point, is trending in the right direction, and will be a force on the mat for two more years.
Overman reaches podium for sixth-place finish
Conneaut senior Connor Overman may have lost his final match in the fifth-place consolation bout, but the 220-pounder proved just how much of a force he really was by earning a medal in Hershey in 2014.
Everything was new to Overman this season, making the trip to states all the more special. When he got to Hershey, he decided to make the most of the situation, and won his way to the podium.
During the fifth-place bout, Overman suffered a takedown in the first period to Kittanning’s Jacob Robb. In the third, Robb added to his lead to pick up the 8-0 decision.
Messai claims 7th at 113 for Jamestown
Jamestown sophomore Faris Messai came to Hershey with the goal of reaching the medal stand. The 113-pound wrestler did just that, beating Montgomery’s Kyle Drick 7-2 in his final bout of the tournament to earn seventh place in the weight class.
Though he made his way onto the podium, for Messai, earning the title as the seventh best wrestler in Pennsylvania at 113 pounds isn’t good enough. The good news is he still has two years to accomplish his main goal.
“It makes me want to do better next year,” Messai said. “It gives me incentive to get to the finals (next year).”
Messai pulled off impressive wins during his run to seventh, making the finish a satisfying one, regardless if it wasn’t as high as the sophomore would have liked.
“It feels pretty good,” Messai said. “I wish I could have done better, but it feels awesome.”