Selepack places second at SW Regionals; Black Knights advance two|
Monday, March 4, 2013
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
JOHNSTOWN - Every regional tournament across the state is an emotional roller coaster for all of those involved.
One second you can be riding high and the next you could have fallen to the lowest of the low.
Unfortunately for the Progressland entrants at the Southwest Class AA tournament the same held true for them in Johnstown on Saturday.
West Branch's Morgan Selepack was the first to claim his bid in the state tournament with a pin of Tussey Mountain's Mitchell Hall in the semifinals, while Moshannon Valley's James Stodart and Jake Ludwig took the longer route through the consolations.
While Stodart and Ludwig won their consolation bouts to finish third and fifth, respectively, Selepack came up short in his shot at a title with a 4-1 loss to Burrell's Allan Beattie.
"Morgan had his throw locked up there in the first," said Warriors head coach Jason Bainey, "and he only does it when he's comfortable. He thought he had it, but Beattie was pretty slippy at that point.
"Morgan wrestled pretty tough, and it's pretty good to get second at regionals with 70 some schools. He can't hang his head because he wrestled well, and when you get down to Hershey, anything can happen."
Selepack attempted to throw Beattie in the first, but the Bucs sophomore countered for a 2-0 lead that he didn't relinquish.
Beattie scored a second-period reversal before yielding a Selepack escape in the third to set the final.
Selepack trailed Hall 1-0 in the third before reversing the Titan heavyweight to his back and getting the fall.
"Mitchell has 30 wins," Bainey said. "I think he's 30-3 now, and all of his losses are to Morgan. It was a big win (because) it sealed the deal for him. He broke the all-time fall record and he passed Jared Ricotta with 28 falls.
"It's good for Morgan. He works hard in the room. Hopefully he can go down there, win a few matches and place."
Stodart's formula at the tournament a year ago worked so well, that the Black Knight senior decided to follow it again.
After falling to Avella's Jake Temple - who won the title at 220 this year - in the quarterfinals, Stodart rebounded for bronze, and he did it again this year after a loss on the opening day.
Stodart tore through the conseys with a 10-2 major decision of Ellwood City's Brad Grinnen, before topping United's Tyler Oliver and Chestnut Ridge's Dan Albright by identical 3-0 scores.
"James got a little sloppy in his loss," said Mo Valley head coach Justin Fye, "but he came back and wrestled great. He looked to score in the first period, and then he just wrestled tough from there.
"He did a great job of wrestling with the lead, and he did a great job wrestling on top. He rode Oliver almost a whole period and then rode Albright out for the whole period. Hopefully, he'll continue on with some confidence going into next week."
Ludwig's fifth-place bout guaranteed Progressland an entrant at 220, as he met with West Branch's Buzzy Maines for the right to go to Hershey.
Maines, who handed Ludwig his first loss of the year during a dual meet, began the day in the semifinals, but dropped two straight bouts to meet the Knight senior for fifth.
The West Branch sophomore was upended by West Greene's Cody Jacobs, 9-6, and lost a 5-1 decision to Berlin-Brothersvalley's Mitchell Walker in overtime tiebreaker to set the stage for his bout with Ludwig.
Unlike the first match, it was Ludwig who prevailed.
"We knew Ludwig was going to be tough," Bainey said. "Our conditioning played a big factor today, and all of that stems back from a month ago with his ankle.
"He's only a sophomore, so hopefully he can regroup and be ready to go for next year. ... We were just out of our game today, but Buzzy wrestled pretty well. He's as good as anyone here when he's ready to go. He'll learn from it."
Ludwig fell in his fifth-place bout a year ago, but his experience with the added pressure paid off, as he took Maines down five times en route to a 12-5 win.
Maines allowed a takedown in the first before Ludwig built a 5-point advantage in the second after tallying an escape and another 2 points.
"He thought he was going to get Buzzy in the semis," said Fye of Ludwig, who lost a 1-0 decision to Westmont Hilltop's Don Shovestull after topping Hope For Hyndman's James Bennett, 8-5.
"It's a matchup he wanted, and he wrestled unbelievable. He opened up the whole match. If he would have opened up like that the whole tournament, he could have been on top of the podium."
The highs of consecutive wins by Stodart and Ludwig were only marred at the near-miss by Mo Valley heavyweight Jack Bunnell, who nearly completed another Cinderella run through a second straight tournament.
Bunnell was seeded seventh at the District 6 tournament two weeks ago but defeated several higher seeds to advance.
The Knight junior followed suit at regionals and nearly earned a spot in the PIAA Championships.
Bunnell pinned South Park's Rob Wolak in the consolation quarterfinals to guarantee he'd at least wrestle to go to Hershey, but Hall sent him to the fifth-place bout with a pin in 2:58.
Bunnell shook off the ill-effects and was on the verge of advancing as he led Southmoreland's Jake Beistel with time winding down.
Beistel, who pinned Bunnell in 51 seconds a day earlier, found the sledding much tougher going, as the pair was deadlocked at 4 heading into the third.
Bunnell was able to escape with 32 seconds left, but Beistel came out on top of a flurry at the edge of the mat as time expired for a 6-5 victory.
"You can't come much closer than that," Fye said. "He wrestled unbelievable there. I can't say anything. To see where he's come from last year - even the middle of this year - until now, he should know in his head how good he is.
"He wrestled with the best guys in this tournament, and he was two seconds - or two inches from getting out of bounds - of going on. I'm very proud of him. I guarantee there's not one person in this gym that would have picked him to advance to today, outside of our coaching staff."
The only other Progressland wrestler left in the tournament when action resumed on Saturday was Warrior 132-pounder J.P. Hayles.
Hayles fell one win shy of at least wrestling for fifth, as he fell 4-2 to South Side Beaver's Shane Gentry in the consolation quarterfinals.
"We were hoping to get four or five guys through," said Bainey, "but it's a tough region. We knew J.P., Parker (Bumbarger) and (Dustin) Deliman's brackets were tough.
"Morgan's the first state qualifier since I've been here, so that's something to be proud of. Next year we'll look forward to the work we'll have to do to get more guys down there."
South Fayette (88) walked out with the team title, while Burrell (83), Bedford (74), Jefferson-Morgan (65) and Chestnut Ridge (63) rounded out the top five.
Mo Valley was tied with West Greene (38) for 15th, while West Branch earned 31 points to finish 20th.
The PIAA Championships get started on Thursday at 9 a.m.