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Gehr, Terry claim sectional titles
Five Eagles, three Mounts on to Districts
Cocalico and Ephrata both sent three wrestlers to the newly revamped District Three Section One finals at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School Saturday in Shillington.
The Eagles crowned the first champion of the evening at 106 when junior Josiah Gehr (22-3 on the season) decisioned Ephrata senior Austin Jones (27-5) 5-0 on a first period takedown and a third period three point near-fall.
Gehr, who normally prefers the neutral standing position, chose the top position with his choice going into the third period while clinging to a 2-0 lead.
“I didn’t feel like I was getting my shots off,” explained Gehr, after the medal ceremony. “So I thought top was my best option.”
“I felt good, hand fighting,” added Jones. “He’s good on top with his tilts and turning me. That was the difference in the match.”
“It’s the third time they’ve wrestled,” noted Ephrata Coach Josh Clair. “Coming in we knew 106 was a very tough weight, here. It was a good match. Jones knows there are some things he needs to clean up, but he’ll be ready for next week.”
Gehr is now down to his post-season tournament weight, having won the Lancaster-Lebanon League Tourney at 113 three weeks ago.
“He’s adjusting to the weight,” stated Cocalico Coach Matt Fittery. “I thought he wrestled tough. He was stingy and wasn’t giving up points. He was in good position the whole time.”
The finals crowd didn’t have to wait long for the next local champion. Mounts 113-pounder Cameron Terry (29-5) survived a roller coaster 7-6 decision over Twin Valley’s CJ Morton (27-6) for the second local gold of the day.
Terry scored a quick takedown 15 seconds into the match, then surrendered an escape before ending the first period with a 2-1 lead. He owned the second, escaping from the down position and grabbing his second takedown of the match to lead 5-1 after two.
Period three saw Terry control Morton for the first minute, but then the wheels fell off. Morton turned a reversal into five points and a one point lead that held up until the 15 second mark. Then Terry returned the favor with a reversal of his own for the win.
“Terry is a grinder. He had a great tournament again,” offered Clair. “Cam is not a flashy wrestler, but he is in your face, putting on pressure. 113 in my eyes, is just as tough as 106.”
“I feel like I did really well with my standups, getting off the bottom,” said Terry, in assessing his day’s work. “The arm-bar in the third period of the last match, I should have never gotten into that.”
Mounts’ senior co-captain Tyler Mentzer (28-10) had to go the overtime route to reach the 152 pound final. His semifinal opponent was Cocalico’s Max Martin, who had pinned Mentzer during the L-L Tournament.
Mentzer won this time by securing a takedown soon after the extra frame started.
“Mentzer kind of weathered the storm in the first period,” explained Clair. “I knew when he got to overtime, he would get the win. I couldn’t feel happier for him.”
“It feels good, because he just stuck me the last time,” added Mentzer. “I was waiting for a rematch. I just went out there and got it.”
Unfortunately, the momentum from the win didn’t carry over into the finals, where Mentzer was pinned by Exeter’s Tyler Harkness (34-9).
Two quick pins provided the pathway for Cocalico’s 195 pounder Ben Fromm (34-4) to the finals. There he ran into Exeter’s Dennis Karas (39-7). Karas proved to be just as strong and just as quick as Fromm, who usually enjoys the upper hand in both of those categories.
After two periods the Exeter Eagle led 4-2 with all points captured via the takedown route. Karas escaped early in the third, then converted a third takedown into back points for a 9-2 lead that ended up as the final score.
“It was a very long day, knowing that it was going to be a grudge match between two tough guys,” noted Fromm. “It was a good matchup and he had the better day.”
“(Fromm) made one technical error, but that’s a kid who is one of the top kids in the state,” answered Fittery. “I think he showed that he was right there with him. He could reverse that at Districts.”
The final bout of the night pitted Cocalico’s Brady Maxwell (31-11) against Exeter’s Oscar Daniels (39-5) in the heavyweight division. The first period ended in a scoreless tie. Daniels struck first in the second with an escape. He then took down Maxwell with 12 seconds left in the period for a 3-0 lead after two.
Maxwell escaped early in the third to draw within two. Daniels earned the second takedown with 35 seconds left for a four -point lead. Maxwell escaped fifteen seconds later, but the clock ran out with Daniels on top at 5-2.
“(Maxwell) was in some good positions,” described Fittery. “He just has to finish a couple of those takedowns. He’s right there.”
“I took more shots than I usually do,” stated Maxwell. “I don’t know if that’s because I didn’t know the guys or me being more confident with what I’ve been practicing.”
The results send five Cocalico wrestlers and three from Ephrata to the District Three Tournament at the Giant Center in Hershey, beginning Thursday. In addition to the local finalists from the Section One Tournament, also making the trip from Cocalico are freshman Kayde Althouse (29-12), who finished third at 113 and fellow freshman Grant Swann (18-17), third at 120.
“Grant Swann had an excellent tournament,” Fittery said when asked about his two freshmen. “He came in as a 6th seed and wrestled very hard and beat some good kids to take third. Kayde Althouse had a great day as well. He took a tough loss to the Twin Valley kid, but was able to get it back together and wrestled great to come back for third. That’s not easy to do especially as freshmen so I am very proud of these boys for that.”
Also medaling in Shillington were Cocalico junior Nate Fritz (fifth, 126), sophomore Seamus Finnegan (fifth, 138), senior Max Martin (fifth, 152), junior Devin Sensenig (sixth, 160) and junior Austin Shaver (sixth, 220). That brings the Eagles’ medal total for the Sectional Tournament to 10. The Mounts took home the one gold and two silvers from the three senior finalists.
Cocalico also finished in fourth place in the team points race with 145 behind Exeter (234), host Governor Mifflin (158) and Wilson (152.5). The Eagles were the highest finishers among Lancaster-Lebanon schools that included Conestoga Valley (117), Garden Spot (97.5), Ephrata (68), Lebanon (29) and Cedar Crest (26). The Mounts were ninth of the 15 teams.
“It’s awesome,” said the elated Maxwell. “Last year, I made it and I got knocked out on the second day. I’m excited to get some redemption this week.”
“It means a lot,” added Fromm. “First time in the finals, here. Just qualifying is everything at this point and getting to that next tournament.”
“It just means we have great leadership,” said Mentzer, when asked about Ephrata’s three senior finalists. “We like to have the younger kids look at us and want to be like that when they get older and make it to the Districts.”
“I definitely want to put ‘State Qualifier’ next to my name,” added Terry. “If not state medalist.”
“We’ve been wrestling together since the seventh grade,” said Jones. “It was great for all three of us to be in the finals.”
“I think we did pretty well today,” commented Gehr, in putting a cap on the competition. “We have a bunch of good guys, working hard in the room and when they come to wrestle, they’re bringing their ‘A’ game.”