Fromm claims State medal

By on March 15, 2017

Becomes first Eagle medalist since Steve Fittery in 2006

Cocalico’s Ben Fromm (left) ties up with Eli Grape of Upper St. Clair in Saturday’s seventh-place bout at Giant Center in Hershey. Photo by Mike Shull

Cocalico’s Ben Fromm (left) ties up with Eli Grape of Upper St. Clair in Saturday’s seventh-place bout at Giant Center in Hershey. Photo by Mike Shull

Wrestlers can certainly ride a roller coaster of emotions throughout the three-day State Tournament. That’s just the nature of the beast.

And it was certainly the case for Cocalico wrestlers Josiah Gehr and Ben Fromm this past weekend at Giant Center in Hershey.

After a Day One that couldn’t have gone any better, both endured some hardships on a Day Two that saw Gehr’s dreams halted for at least another year while Fromm surviving to wrestle another day by the skin of his teeth.

Finally, the tournament ended on an upswing on Saturday for Fromm when he became the first Cocalico wrestler since Steve Fittery in 2006 to reach the podium.

The junior placed eighth at 195 pounds after dropping a 9-4 decision to Upper St. Clair’s Eli Grape in the seventh-place bout. Fromm became the first State medalist for current Cocalico head coach Matt Fittery (Steve’s brother).

“It’s huge,” Coach Fittery said of Fromm earning a medal. “There hasn’t been a lot of medalists from Cocalico in a long time. It’s my first one as a head coach…it’s so exciting. You get to that level, it’s tough to do and it’s quite an accomplishment when you do do it. It’s awesome.”

Gehr (26-6), who finished one win away from winning a medal a year ago in his debut at States, unfortunately found himself on the tough side of the bracket. He went 1-2 on the weekend with his two losses coming to the eventual champion (Doug Zapf of Downingtown West) and third-place finisher (Darren Miller of Kiski Area).

Still, in the end, that didn’t ease the disappointment for the 106 pounder.

“Obviously it’s heartbreaking for him,” Fittery said of Gehr. “I know he really wanted to be on that medal stand, and I really believe he could have been there. It just wasn’t his day. It just didn’t work out.”

The tournament was all about survival for Fromm, who was making his first trip to the tournament. He went 2-3 on the weekend with both of his wins coming in the ultimate tiebreaker round.

Thursday night in his opening bout vs. Downingtown West’s Cole Zapf (the brother of Doug), the two traded escapes to finish deadlocked at 1-1 after regulation.

After wrestling through a one-minute overtime and two 30-second tiebreaker periods, the two went to ultimate tiebreaker still knotted at 1-1.

Fromm (39-8) had choice and chose bottom, and was finally able to break free with 12 seconds left to earn the hard-fought 2-1 win.

In Friday’s quarterfinals, Fromm ran into eventual runner-up Ethan Laird of General McLane, who got three takedowns and tilted the Cocalico wrestler three different times en route to an impressive 11-0 win.

Fromm went to the consolations and stayed alive with another grueling bout that went to the ultimate tiebreaker round.

Facing Bethlehem Catholic’s Jody Crouse, Fromm trailed 4-3 heading to the third but got an escape to tie it and send the bout to overtime.

With the bout still deadlocked after the one minute OT and two 30 second rounds, Fromm once again took bottom and escaped for the win.

That win not only got him to the final day, but clinched his medal.

A 5-3 loss to Jake Koser of Northern York Saturday morning set up his seventh-place bout with Grape Saturday night.

In that one, Grape set the tone with an early single-leg takedown in the first. He would go on to hit three more of them over the remainder of the bout with Fromm only able to muster four escapes in the 9-4 decision.

“I feel like I got a lot of experience,” Fromm said of his tournament following his bout vs. Grape. “The only real good part to come out of it is the experience. I didn’t really get to where I wanted to be but I feel pretty good knowing where I stand for next year, and what my potential is for next year.”

According to his coach, that experience should pay off.

“It’s huge,” Fittery said. “Confidence for him is big, and now he’s starting to see that he can compete with anybody in the state. Hopefully it gives him motivation and the confidence he needs to work even harder to get to the top of that podium.”

Fromm said the results of the weekend opened his eyes to what he may be able to accomplish in his senior season next year.

“I’ve been looking at this sport for awhile as it’s just a high school sport…it’s meant to be fun,” he said. “And it is fun. But I wasn’t acknowledging the fact that there is true potential in it for me and I need to put in that time.”

Like Fromm, Gehr’s tournament got off to a strong start with a convincing 8-1 victory over Bellefonte sophomore Cole Stewart.

Leading 2-0 after one, Gehr reversed out of the bottom and later added a pair of takedowns to key the big win.

In Friday’s quarterfinals vs. Zapf, the eventual champ got an early takedown and escaped to begin the second period with a 3-0 cushion. Later in the period, Zapf got an additional takedown and carried a 5-0 lead into the third. Gehr did earn an escape, but Zapf moved on with a 5-1 win.

Gehr’s night and tournament would come to a crashing halt in his first consolation bout against Miller, who got an early takedown before working in a cradle to close out the match in 41 seconds.

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