Fichtorn strikes gold

By on February 18, 2015
 Cocalico’s Trevor Fichtorn (left) has his hand raised after earning a dramatic victory in the finals to win his first Sectional title Saturday at Governor Mifflin. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Cocalico’s Trevor Fichtorn (left) has his hand raised after earning a dramatic victory in the finals to win his first Sectional title Saturday at Governor Mifflin. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Cocalico’s Trevor Fichthorn rode a late reversal all the way to the gold medal stand Saturday in the Section IV Wrestling Tournament at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School.

The junior 145 pounder led 4-2 until the 1:12 mark of the third period against Reading’s Tyler Davis (31-4). Fichthorn (24-8) held the controlling top position in that decisive third period, but an escape and quick takedown found the Eagle grappler down 5-4 with time running out. Somehow, with 15 seconds left, Fichthorn spun around Davis and gained control at the 10-second mark to become the first Cocalico Sectional champion since 2012.

“Trevor showed incredible heart,” said Eagles Coach Matt Fittery. “While losing late in the finals, he found a way to win. He wasn’t going to lose.”

“He was definitely stronger than me,” added Fichthorn. “But I realized that I had worked so hard for it, that I needed one last effort to get the title.”

Fichthorn was joined in the finals by fellow junior and second-year wrestler Abdul Saad (26-6). Saad battled Exeter Township’s Scott Schaeffer (38-7) for the 182 pound crown. Tied at 5-5 until five seconds left in the second period, the Berks County junior scored a takedown, which turned out to be the turning point in the match. Schaeffer’s escape was the only point of the third period and completed the scoring in the 8-5 victory.

“I thought he wrestled great,” Fittery said of Saad. “He certainly lost a tough one.”

Saad talked about the unknown at this time of the year.

“I had never met him before, so I was a little surprised when I got the first takedown,” he said. “Because of that, you don’t know how to set up your own strategy. The last-second takedown was definitely the turning point.”

Both Fichthorn and Saad punched their tickets to this weekend’s District Three Tournament at Hersheypark Arena (Friday and Saturday) by making the Sectional finals. Two other Eagles had a chance going into the evening session, as the top three from each weight class moved on. But that would require a win for 106-pounder Josiah Gehr and at the 113-pound class for Adam Miller.

Miller (24-13) took care of business, collecting takedowns in each of the first two periods against Garden Spot sophomore Gary Clark (19-11). The Cocalico junior could not be turned in the third, surviving two stalling points for the 4-2 win.

“I’m very proud of him,” gushed Fittery. “He came so close to Districts as a freshman and sophomore but didn’t quite make it.”

Miller talked about the final match.

“It was critical to get the lead and set the pace,” he said. “Sometimes though, it’s not the easiest with the lead because of stalling.”

“That was pretty impressive. That was all heart,” said Fittery about his final District qualifier Gehr.

All the freshman did was come back from a 7-0 deficit late in the second period. That same period found Gehr on his back for more than a minute but he was able to avoid the pin. Usually that is an exhausting feat, but Gehr (23-15) managed a reversal at the end of the second, cutting Muhlenberg’s Jordan Stone (20-9) to a 7-2 lead.

A take down and two back points reduced the lead to 7-6, as Gehr kept pressing the tiring Stone. Despite not turning the fellow freshman, Gehr did pick up a point awarded for stalling, and the match went into sudden death overtime. Gehr made quick work in the extra frame, collecting a takedown for the final 9-7 margin.

Weather you call him a miracle worker or credit his never-say-die attitude, something changed halfway through that critical match.

“The coaches said that he threw his arms out that I should sweep around instead of going straight at him,” Gehr explained. “After I tied it, I really wanted it.”

Saturday’s sectional was another indication of the dramatic turnaround that this Cocalico program is going through. And it starts with the youth movement. Last year’s Jr. High champions sent four freshmen to this year’s Sectional. Two weeks ago the Junior High team duplicated the feat and broke the team points record. And this year’s varsity? No seniors after John Fry’s season-ending injury.

You can see the smile on Coach Fittery’s face as he takes a look ahead.

“We’re so excited for the future, but we’re still focused on the remainder of this year,” he said. “These guys did a great job despite their youth.”

Who better to look at this weekend than the four Eagles themselves?

“I’ve never been (to Districts), but I want to place, that’s my goal,” said Fichthorn.

“Last year I wasn’t even close, so even touching the podium is great,” added Saad. “But I need to work on my defense going into Districts.”

“I just want to go out, and wrestle my best,” commented Miller. “I want to leave everything on the mat.”

And as for the “Comeback Kid” Gehr?

“I want to go in with the right mindset and win as many as I can,” he said.

The Eagles finished the tournament by winning five of six evening session bouts, including fifth place finishes by freshman Ben Fromm (25-6) at 195 and sophomore Darin Youndt (15-14). Cocalico’s 82 team points were good for fifth place in the Section IV Tournament.

The following are the first-round District match-ups for the Cocalico wrestlers. They include: 106- Gehr vs. Section Two champ Chris Wright, Central Dauphin (33-7); 113- Miller vs. Section Two champ Jake Cherry, Central Dauphin (34-8); 145- Fichtorn vs. Section Five third place Austin McNamee, Kennard-Dale (23-8); 182- Saad vs. Section Five runner-up Zach Shaffer, Red Lion (24-13).

First-round action begins at 3:15 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Arena. Action will continue through the evening Friday, and will continue with semifinals Saturday at 10:15 a.m., leading up to the finals at 6 p.m.

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