Class AAA Day 1: Pair of YAIAA wrestlers turn headlocks into pins

HERSHEY -- Bermudian Springs junior Tristan Sponseller opened the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships with a 17-7 major decision Thursday at Hershey's Giant Center. The win taught him a lesson he hopes will help him go on an extended state title run.

Sponseller was beating Franklin's Chris Matthews 17-3 entering the final period, one point from ending the match, but he allowed Matthews to score four consecutive points.

"I relaxed instead of wanting to keep trying to score," Sponseller said. "I could've finished off the match with a tech fall. Since I relaxed, he scored more points. I was on defense too much. I need to keep working my offense."

Teammate Briton Shelton and Hanover's Ian Brown enter today competing in the championship bracket. Biglerville's Josh Asper, Jasper Hankey and Trevor Stover and Hanover's Tyler Shafer are in the consolation bracket.

Fairfield's Nick Mort lost his first two matches Thursday to be eliminated.

Sponseller's lesson from Thursday should be familiar. He experienced the same thing last week in the PIAA Class AA Southeast Regional.

With 27 seconds left and the score tied at 4, Northwestern Lehigh's Michael Ortiz allowed Sponseller up, giving Sponseller a 5-4 lead. Ortiz then took Sponseller down as time expired for a 6-5 victory that put him in the 170-pound region championship bout.

"I relaxed with that lead," Sponseller said, "and I lost my head at the end of the match. I got caught on my heels. If anything, it'll help me to learn from that loss. That definitely motivated me. I didn't finish what I wanted to."

He followed the regional loss by beating Biglerville's Josh Asper 11-2 in the third-place match.

Sponseller (45-3) faces Port Allegany's Alexander Gular (31-5), who defeated Ortiz in the opening round, in today's quarterfinals. He wants to maintain his focus on Gular, but a likely semifinal match against Jefferson Morgan's Dustin Conti looms.

But to get there, Sponseller must remember what he learned last week and experienced again Thursday.

"Try to work mentally to keep my head the whole match," Sponseller said. "Not relaxing at any time and extend my lead if I have a lead and not be comfortable."

Shafer's strong season continues: When Hanover's Tyler Shafer broke his left hand four weeks before the postseason, an extended run in the individual postseason seemed unlikely. He has, however, gone on one.

Shafer opened the state tournament with a 3-2 loss to Richland's Nichols Naglic but beat Berlin-Brothersvalley's Braden Fochtman 4-2 in the first round of the 138-pound consolation bracket.

The victory came as he spun around, time and time again, to earn a takedown in overtime. He had fallen behind 2-0 before scoring the final four points.

"I had to come back and push that to get two in overtime," Shafer said. "It gets a little dizzy. You have to know where you are on the mat in order to score two."

Biglerville’s Josh Asper lifts South Williamsport’s Justin Knee in a 170-pound bout in the first round of PIAA Class AA wrestling consolations
Biglerville's Josh Asper lifts South Williamsport's Justin Knee in a 170-pound bout in the first round of PIAA Class AA wrestling consolations on Thursday, March 7, 2013, at the Giant Center. Asper won, 5-3. (Daily Record / Sunday News -- Chris Dunn)

Shafer's postseason run was something Nighthawks coach Dave Cataldo expected.

"We talked about it all year long," Cataldo said. "Before the season even started, that was the goal, basically to get him on the podium somewhere. He's got the talent and the technique. Now it's down to the final 12 guys."

Shafer, who is also battling a cold, wrestled in the second round of consolations at 10:45 this morning. He needs two more wins to compete in the seventh-place match. A loss, however, ends his season.

"He's had to battle all year," Cataldo said. "You never know. A lot of crazy things happen here at the Giant Center."; 717-637-3736, extension 139. Twitter: @DanielPaulling.

HERSHEY -- Thursday's results from the PIAA wrestling championships.

First Round

106--Jacob Wasser, Palisades dec. Cameron Newman, Line Mountain, 10-4; Austin Griffiths, Southmoreland dec. Jaryd Flank, Wilson Area, 6-1; Tyshawn White, Bishop McDevitt tech. fall Triston Law, Forest Hills, 23-8, 5:27; Devin Brown, Saegertown major dec. Austin McDermitt, Burgettstown, 10-0; Luke Karam, Bethlehem Catholic tech. fall Brendan Howard, Jefferson-Morgan, 15-0, 3:51; Brian Friery, Lewisburg pinned Seth Hogue, Reynolds, 4:38; Taylor Ortiz, Brookville dec. Zack LeBarron, Warrior Run, 5-3; Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon dec. Joe Lobeck, Lancaster Catholic, 6-0.

113--Seth Carr, South Fayette dec. Stephen Maloney, Bethlehem Catholic, 8-3; David Pipa, Bishop McDevitt dec. Michael Bartolo, Reynolds, 7-2; Cody Blankenship, Kane pinned Alec Torres, Wyomissing, 5:37; Josh Brown, Claysburg-Kimmel dec. Ethan Calkins, Troy, 7-1; Willis Gruver, Redbank Valley dec. Caleb Bordner, Tri-Valley, 4-3; George Phillippi, Derry Area major dec. A.J. Lutton, Wilkes-Barre GAR, 9-0; Justin Patrick, Ligonier Valley dec. Eric Hunt, Warrior Run, 9-2; Korbin Myers, Boiling Springs major dec. Jake Rothka, Bentworth, 12-4.

120--Darian Cruz, Bethlehem Catholic pinned Josiah Hughes, Valley, 1:43; Zach Fry, Hughesville dec. Matt Wheeler, Northwestern, 3-1; Collin Edsell, Wyalusing dec. Trent Neely, Smethport, 4-0; Joshua Patrick, Ligonier Valley major dec. Josh Giorgio, Schuylkill Valley, 13-3; Matt Welliver, Benton dec. Grant Bond, Boiling Springs, 8-7; Nate Reckner, South Side Beaver dec. Matt Williams, Pen Argyl, 3-1; Ryan Easter, Bedford dec. Bryan Israel, Saucon Valley, 1-0 UTB; Tyler Vath, Saegertown pinned Mike Carr, South Fayette, 3:35.

126--Ryan Diehl, Trinity (Dist. 3) pinned Dison Myers, Southern Huntingdon, 2:14; Kyle Lukowich, Conneaut Lake dec. Pat Dewitt, Valley, 8-4; John Demaske, Jefferson-Morgan dec. Nick Monico, Saegertown, 6-0; Kent Lane, Southern Columbia dec. Andrew Sutton, Pen Argyl, 7-0; Greg Bulsak, South Park dec. Jaquan Gordon, Wyomissing, 3-0; Kyle Shoop, Boiling Springs dec. Logan Everett, Williamson, 11-5; Zeke Moisey, Bethlehem Catholic dec. Andrew Schultz, Wyoming Area, 2-1; Jarray Norris, Sharon dec. Collin Day, Meyersdale, 13-7.

132--Ian Brown, Hanover dec. Jake Wentzel, South Park, 7-0; Brennon Shields, Southern Huntingdon dec. Adam Fish, Seneca, 5-2; Nick Zanetta, Keystone Oaks dec. Dalton Zimmerman, Brookville, 6-1; Austin Harry, Lake Lehman pinned Chase Schaeffer, Tri-Valley, 2:44; Jason Nolf, Kittanning dec. Lee Todora, Bethlehem Catholic, 6-2; Jeffrey Inman, Annville Cleona dec. Trevor McWhorter, Williamson, 4-2 OT; Michael Comunale, Pius X dec. Cole Walter, Mifflinburg, 6-5; Karl Lightner, Smethport pinned J.R. Andrejcik, Burrell, 5:12.

138--Sean Heggs, Juniata dec. Jasper Hankey, Biglerville, 6-3; Michael Bonner, Sharon major dec. Nick Heck, Wyoming Area, 18-6; Seth Lansberry, Line Mountain major dec. Matt Humes, Saegertown, 9-0; Nick Gavazzi, Charleroi pinned Ryan Todora, Bethlehem Catholic, 3:03; Brock Zacherl, Brookville major dec. Braden Fochtman, Berlin-Brothersvalley, 15-4; Nicholas Naglic, Richland dec. Tyler Shafer, Hanover, 3-2; Steve Edwards, Burrell dec. Hunter Harner, Tri-Valley, 5-1; Zain Retherford, Benton pinned Alex Gallaher, Camp Hill, 1:23.

145--Levi Stoyer, Reynolds dec. Eli Brill, Pine Grove, 1-0; Billy Barnes, Williamson dec. Noah Tarr, Blairsville, 7-6; Zach Heeter, Midd-West dec. Tanner Cahill, Conemaugh Township, 5-3; Michael Racciato, Pen Argyl major dec. Phil Marra, Burrell, 11-3; Tanner Sutton, Chartiers-Houston major dec. Zach Homan, Schuylkill Valley, 14-6; Blake Bowman, Tri-Valley dec. Zach Vroman, Brookville, 7-4; Briton Shelton, Bermudian Springs pinned Robert Boozer, Cochranton, 3:23; Colt Cotten, Benton dec. Matt Johnston, West Greene, 5-0.

152--Ty Herzog, Northern Lehigh dec. Grant Fetchet, South Fayette, 12-7; Blake Marks, Southern Columbia dec. Taylor Harrington, Fort LeBoeuf, 6-4; Kyle Bova, Coudersport dec. Kyle Barnes, Hughesville, 5-2; Boe Bonzo, Freedom dec. Zachary Graver, Palmerton, 9-4; Ryan Preisch, Milton major dec. Mark Maloney, Bethlehem Catholic, 8-0; Robbie Moretz, Halifax dec. Tanner Williams, Bedford, 5-2; Andrew Doak, Blairsville dec. Travis Buddock, Saucon Valley, 5-4; Austin Matthews, Reynolds tech. fall Taylor Cahill, Conemaugh Township, 15-0, 3:06.

160--Cody Law, Forest Hills dec. Connor Hedash, Bethlehem Catholic, 5-1; Cole Shirey, Redbank Valley dec. Nick Mort, Fairfield, 8-4; Taylor Fox, Fort LeBoeuf dec. Quinn Frassetta, Camp Hill, 5-2; Ty Walter, Mifflinburg major dec. Bryce Fotchman, Berlin-Brothersvalley, 18-7; Evan Delong, Kane major dec. Auston Hummel, North Schuylkill, 17-5; Jeric Kasunic, Benton dec. Corey Hazel, Penns Valley, 8-5; Jared Walker, South Fayette dec. Isaiah Bobotas, Montgomery, 5-4; Ty Schoffstall, Tri-Valley major dec. Landon Lohr, Somerset, 17-9.

170--Tim Vargo, Union City major dec. Josh Asper, Biglerville, 10-2; Tyler Dibert, Chestnut Ridge dec. Justin Knee South Williamsport, 6-3; Mike Fetchet, South Fayette dec. Alex Lieberman, Midd-West, 6-1; Pete Renda, Brandywine Heights pinned Zack Pinkas, Forest Hills, 1:04; Dustin Conti, Jefferson-Morgan dec. Nick Cortopassi, Bethlehem Catholic, 3-1; Alexander Gular, Port Allegany dec. Michael Ortiz, Northwestern Lehigh. 5-4; Tristan Sponseller, Bermudian Springs major dec. Chris Matthews, Franklin, 17-7; Ben Minnich, North Penn major dec. Caleb Grimes, Bedford, 12-0.

182--Adam Mackie, Brandywine Heights dec. Mike Rogers, Penns Valley, 14-9; Terrell Fields, Valley dec. Jamar Henry, Reynolds, 10-5; Scott Thompson, Blairsville dec. Aaron Hook, Redbank Valley, 3-2; Troy Hembury, Muncy pinned Kyle Taylor, Boiling Springs, 1:33; Dakota DesLauriers, Burrell tech. fall Lyle Troutman, Tri-Valley, 18-3, 4:28; Stephen Loiseau, Lancaster Catholic dec. Garrett Wesneski, Canton, 3-2; Logan Womelsdorf, Benton by forfeit over Jose Ortiz, Bethlehem Catholic; Dylan Reynolds, Saegertown dec. Gavin Berkley, Meyersdale, 9-3.

195--Ryan Solomon, Milton major dec. Justin Blobe, Saucon Valley, 10-0; Josh Alpha, Bethlehem Catholic dec. James Stodart, Moshannon Valley, 3-1; Zac Croyle, Kittanning dec. Jonathan Rummel, Williams Valley, 7-6; Dan Albright, Chestnut Ridge dec. Ryan Morris, Corry, 2-1; Adam Geiger, Trinity pinned Jacob Nickelson, Somerset, 1:52; Skylar Ebner, Muncy major dec. Trevor Beiter, Seneca, 17-6; Conner Rosensweet, Western Wayne pinned Jake Johnson, Eisenhower, 2:28; Garrett Vulcano, Chartiers-Houston major dec. Austin Bashore, Hamburg, 10-1.

220--Cam Cyphert, Cochranton pinned Tanner Dean, North Schuylkill, 1:06; Dylan Otis, Wyalusing dec. Don Shovestull, Westmont-Hilltop, 3-1; Cody Jacobs, West Greene dec. Eric McCracken, Central Columbia, 9-4; Ray O'Donnell, Saucon Valley dec. Jacob Ludwig, Moshannon Valley, 8-4; Jake Temple, Avella dec. Calvin Barrick, Boiling Springs, 9-5; Jaykup Durlin, Youngsville dec. Joey Kaufman, Halifax, 6-1; Evan Daley, Fort LeBoeuf major dec. Dennis Atiyeh, Notre Dame Green Pond, 11-2; Brandon Smith, Lewisburg dec. Mitchell Walker, Berlin-Brothers Valley, 7-0.

285--Austin Buttry, Chestnut Ridge pinned Brent Sterner, Susquenita, 2:48; Michael Hall, Tussey Mountain dec. Jeff Burger, Union City, 3-2 UTB; Nicholas Budd, Port Alleghany dec. Morgan Selepack, West Branch, 5-1; Nazar Mironenko, Mifflinburg dec. Ben Wertz, Wyomissing, 5-1; Andrew Dunn, Bethlehem Catholic pinned Alan Beattie, Burrell, 5:20; Jake Becker, Southern Columbia pinned Trevor Stover, Biglerville, 8:17 UTB; Alex Shiber, Central Columbia dec. Brady Mutton, Pen Argyl, 3-2 TB; Sam Breese, Lakeview dec. Jacob Beistel, Southmoreland, 9-2.