Mueller drops two-straight to bow out of State Tourney
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Just getting to the Pennsylvania State Wrestling Tournament is quite a feat so in the end it was mission accomplished for Cocalico senior Kam Mueller.
However, Mueller’s season didn’t end exactly the way he had envisioned it, going two and out at the big dance.
Thursday night at Giant Center in Hershey, Mueller’s season and high school career came to a close on the first night of competition. He dropped a 7-3 decision to North Allegheny’s Jarred Lux in his opening round match at 182 pounds. Then, in the first round of consolations, Dalton Fleming of Upper Perkiomen led 5-0 before finishing off Mueller with a second-period fall in 1:44.
"That was certainly a little disappointing to end the way it did," Cocalico Coach Matt Fittery. "You are always hoping for a medal no matter what tournament you are in."
For Mueller (37-7), those hopes were high after his second-place showing at the District Three Tournament two weeks ago.
However, in his first bout of the night against Lux (41-3) Thursday, the North Allegheny struck quickly with a takedown at the edge of the mat just eight seconds in. That was all the scoring in the first period but Mueller admitted it definitely set the tone for the bout.
"Yeah it did," he said. "We knew (Lux) shot early off the whistle. I tried to defend it but it definitely kind of set the match."
Mueller did hang in there and after Lux reversed from the bottom to start the second, the Cocalico senior scored his first points with a takedown with 45 seconds left to cut it to 4-2.
Mueller trailed 5-2 with plenty of time left in the third to fight for a takedown to draw closer. However, Lux was the one who got the two points on a single with 1:28 to go to open up a 7-2 advantage. Mueller did finally escape but Lux was able to hold on for the 7-3 win.
Fittery agreed that the early takedown was a big factor in the end.
"It is very tough to give up an early lead at States," Fittery said. "Kam stayed in the match though. He had a tough opponent, but he kept battling the whole time. He actually had his opponent very tired, and I would have liked to see that match without all the breaks."
With the loss, Mueller went to the consolation brackets where he met up with the South East Region’s fourth seed Fleming, who was pinned in the first round by eventual finalist Khlique Harris of McDowell.
Unfortunately, Mueller quickly got behind the eight ball again as Fleming (28-9) hit a takedown and cradle to open up a commanding 5-0 first-period lead. Things went from bad to worse early in the second when Fleming reversed from the bottom and put Mueller on his back for the fall at 1:44.
That quickly, it was over for the Eagle senior.
"Frankly, I just don’t think (Kam) was mentally ready for that match," Fittery said.
Despite going two and out, Mueller felt the experience of getting to wrestle at the State Championships was a great way to end his career on a high note.
"I was more nervous than usual but I think it (was) a real great experience and opportunity to be here," Mueller said. "I’m just happy I got here."
"Although it was disappointing the way things went at the State Tournament, you have to put that in perspective," Fittery said. "It was a great accomplishment for Kam just to make it to States. There are a lot of great wrestlers who don’t get to say that, so overall we are very pleased with the way Kam finished. He accomplished his biggest goal for the year, and I am very excited for him and proud of him."
Matt McCutcheon of Kiski Area went on to capture the gold medal at 182 pounds Saturday night, edging Harris by a 2-1 tiebreaker decision.
Two wrestlers from the L-L League were finalists as Manheim Township’s Matt Grossman made it to the gold medal match at 112 before falling 12-0 to defending 106-pound champion Billy Rappo of Council Rock South. Speaking of defending champs, Solanco sophomore Thomas Haines made it two in-a-row at 220 with his 10-2 major decision over Aaron Bradley of Nazareth. More MUELLER, page B-2