Cocalico tandem eyes State medals this weekend in Hershey

By on March 8, 2017
Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr (top) will make his second-straight appearance at the State Tournament this weekend. Photo by Mike Shull

Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr (top) will make his second-straight appearance at the State Tournament this weekend. Photo by Mike Shull

Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr and Ben Fromm will represent the local area at the PIAA State Wrestling Championships which are set for this Thursday through Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey.

Gehr is making his second-straight appearance after finishing one win away from a medal a year ago. Fromm will be making his State tournament debut.

Gehr (36-4), the second-seed out of the South Central Region at 106 pounds, will open his quest for a State medal Thursday afternoon (4 p.m.) in the preliminary round opposite Cole Stewart of Bellefonte.

Stewart (30-8), a sophomore, is the third seed out of the North West Region.

Should Gehr win his first match, he’ll likely square off against South East champion Doug Zapf of Downingtown West. Zapf (41-2) has a few signature wins this season, including a 4-0 victory earlier this year over South Central Region champion Will Betancourt of Manheim Central.

“Josiah’s experience at States last year definitely helps him out,” Cocalico Coach Matt Fittery said Tuesday. “He was a match away from a medal last year, so he knows he is capable now. He has improved a lot since last year so I know he is even more confident heading into States this time.”

Cocalico’s Ben Fromm (top) will make his State Tournament debut on Thursday. Photo by Mike Shull

Cocalico’s Ben Fromm (top) will make his State Tournament debut on Thursday. Photo by Mike Shull

That confidence seemed evident last week at the District Three Tournament where his lone hiccup was a tight 4-2 loss to Betancourt in the finals. In a stacked 106 field, Fittery believes Gehr has as good a shot as anyone at States.

“I really believe that Josiah can beat anyone in the State if he wrestles like he is capable,” Fittery said. “The challenge for everyone is putting together your best tournament. Josiah has a great attitude and he likes to wrestle on the big stage, so I am excited to see him compete.”

Ironically, Fromm (37-5), the second seed from the South Central Region, opens States opposite Zapf’s brother Cole (39-4), who was the second-place finisher at the South East Regional Tournament at 195 pounds.

The winner of that bout will most likely advance to face North West champ Ethan Laird (36-1) of General McLane in Round Two.

Although this will be Fromm’s first trip to States, Fittery is hoping he can carry over the “attacking-style” he saw from his junior at Districts a week ago.

“When Ben wrestles aggressively, he is tough to beat,” Fittery said. “He has been getting a lot better at his shots, so if he gets those going, he will do very well this weekend. He just needs to go out there confidently and wrestle hard the whole time.

“I am excited to see Ben compete as well,” Fittery continued. “I think he is going to surprise a lot of people. I truly believe both of our wrestlers can win medals this weekend.”

Thursday’s AAA session, which begins at 4 p.m., will include the preliminaries, first round and first round of consolations.

Action continues Friday at 2:15 p.m. with quarterfinals, as well as second and third rounds

of consolations.

The tournament will then conclude Saturday with two sessions. The first session begins at 9 a.m. with semifinals, plus fourth and fifth rounds of consolations. The final session will start at 7 p.m., which will include the finals, plus third, fifth and seventh place bouts.

The top eight wrestlers at each weight class will receive medals at the State Championships.

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