Jones Captures L-L Gold

By on February 4, 2016
Ephrata’s Austin Jones (top) rides Penn Manor’s Nick Fafel in the finals at 106 pounds Saturday at the L-L League Tournament. Jones captured the title with a 5-1 victory over Fafel

Ephrata’s Austin Jones (top) rides Penn Manor’s Nick Fafel in the finals at 106 pounds Saturday at the L-L
League Tournament. Jones captured the title with a 5-1 victory over Fafel. Photo by Preston Whitcraft.

Cocalico places eight, Ephrata four

Ephrata junior Austin Jones was a man on a mission.

After failing to place in a stacked 106-pound field his freshman year, Jones finished fourth in the L-L League Tournament a year ago.

This year, he was not going to be denied the gold.

And early Saturday evening at Garden Spot High School, Jones put the finishing touches on a very impressive tournament that ended with that elusive gold medal around his neck.

After pinning his way to the finals, Jones took an early lead on Penn Manor’s Nick Fafel before finishing with a three-point third period to earn a 5-1 victory and the championship.

“It just feels great to win this,” Jones said after the finals. ‘It was my goal and I just went out there and wrestled hard.”

According to Ephrata Coach Josh Clair, that’s the only way Jones knows how to wrestle.

“That’s how he is all of the time,” Clair said of the junior. “He’s one of the hardest workers in the room, he’s always been one of the hardest workers in the room. He knows what he needs to do to win matches. He struggled here in the past, but he’s wrestling good smart matches now. He knew what he wanted to do and he wasn’t letting anyone get in his way. I can’t be any happier with what he did today.”

Gehr was the lone gold medal winner for Ephrata, but four of the six wrestlers the Mounts entered in the tournament placed. Ephrata finished 11th out of 22 teams in the standings as Cameron Terry placed third at 113, Dakota Rohrbaugh was fourth at 160 and Tyler Mentzer was sixth at 145.

“We only entered six kids in the tournament,” Clair said. “We were really hoping to get four of them through and all four wrestled above their seeds and improved on them. For entering just six kids and to finish 11th out of 22 teams is great. You couldn’t ask for anything more than that. It’s the highest we have finished in a while. For the struggles we’ve had team-wise the last couple years, it’s justification for these kids for all the hard work they are putting in. It’s a great feeling for the kids.”

While Cocalico didn’t have any champions, the Eagles still placed eight wrestlers to finish fifth in the team standings.

Abdul Saad and Ben Fromm, who both just returned to the Cocalico lineup, finished as runner-ups at their respective weight classes. Saad advanced to the finals where he was pinned by Penn Manor’s Jesse Kann in 5:06. Fromm dropped his title bout with Matt Vines of Northern Lebanon by a 2-1 decision that went to the ultimate tiebreaker round.

The Eagles’ other medal winners included: Josiah Gehr, third place at 106; Adam Miller, fifth at 120; Nate Fritz, sixth at 126; Devon Fichtorn, seventh at 138; Trevor Fichtorn, third at 132; Max Martin, third at 160; and Devin Sensenig, sixth at 170.

“Overall I think we battled well,” Cocalico Coach Matt Fittery said of his team. “There are some disappointments always, there are always some ups and downs, but overall I think they wrestled hard. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. They battled well. I thought we could have done a little better but I always think that. Overall, it was good.”

Jones (19-4) earned first-period falls over Levi Brooks (Elco), Luke Snyder (E-town) and Kyler Anspach (Northern Lebanon) to gain his finals bid opposite Fafel, who surprised Cocalico’s Gehr, 2-0 in the semifinals.

Jones struck quickly with a takedown to go up 2-1 in the first. The Ephrata junior then rode Fafel for the entire second period before escaping early in the third for a 3-0 advantage. He then added the finishing touches to his first L-L crown with a beautiful snap-and-spin for a takedown with 16 ticks remaining to seal it.

“Whatever he gave me, I was going to take,” Jones said. “I turned the corner and just pounced on him.”

“Moving forward, if Austin keeps wrestling the way he is, there are not many guys who can beat him. He’s wrestling very well right now,” Clair added.

Fourth-seeded Terry (21-8), who dropped a semifinal match by fall to three-time champion Devin Schnupp of Warwick, rounded to finish third with a 4-1 victory over McCaskey’s Nevin Estevez in the consolation finals. Rohrbaugh (12-10) fell victim to a cradle by Cocalico’s Martin and went on to fall 9-5 in the consolation finals at 160. And Mentzer grabbed sixth at 145 when he was pinned by Conner Pavlik of Manheim Central in the fifth-place match.

“I really would have liked to have seen Cam Terry get the second or third seed because I think he could have been the second best kid,” Clair said. “Hitting Schnupp…he’s good. There’s no doubt in my mind the kid will be a state medalist again this year. But Cameron and Jones are great practice partners and they carry each other in the room. And Mentzer and Rohrbaugh were both seeded eighth. Mentzer finished sixth and Dakota finally got the monkey off his back and finished fourth. It’s the first time he’s placed at this tournament and that’s probably the best thing for him because he finally got through that round before medals. So the fact that he got there…it’s a great thing.”

Cocalico’s Saad (17-8), who was a state qualifier a year ago, only returned to the lineup this weekend after missing time with an injury. It was also his first time bumping up to 195 this year so he said finishing second was a decent showing.

“It was pretty challenging but I felt I wrestled well,” he said. “I don’t want to make excuses but with only a day of practice (leading up to the tournament)…that shape. You just don’t have all of the cardio vascular in that you need. It was a little hard but I wrestled as well as I could.”

As did Fromm (14-4), who was battling a skin infection and was out of the lineup until recently. While his conditioning came into play in his three overtime finals loss to Vines.

“To start off, I wasn’t really in shape,” he said. “I came in here really weak. It attacked my immune system and I was just out of shape. Period. I feel overall I did pretty well. I just couldn’t hold on in the final match. I’m just going to come back harder next year.”

After being deadlocked with Vines through regulation and two overtime periods, Fromm chose the down position in the ultimate tiebreaker round despite riding Vines for a good amount of time earlier in regulation and the entire first overtime period.

Fromm, a sophomore, got close to getting out but Vines was able to hold him down for the full 30 seconds to earn the win.

Fittery said they played the percentages but came up short.

“It was a tough call (to choose top or bottom),” Fittery said. “I mean he was really close to getting out, and he got out earlier (in the second period). A lot of times if you pick top there, the other guy thinks it’s my last chance and I think he has a little more incentive to get out. It was a tough call. Hindsight, we probably should have picked top but I don’t think you can really regret that. He’s been off and hasn’t been able to practice too much recently so for him to go into triple overtime and still be battling the whole time, I’m really proud of him for that.”




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