Tough weekend in Hershey for Cocalico

By on March 14, 2018
Cocalico’s Ben Fromm (right) ties up with Nate Stine of Blue Mountain in the first round of States last Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico’s Ben Fromm (right) ties up with Nate Stine of Blue Mountain in the first round of States last Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Eagle trio comes away without a medal at State Tournament

The State Wrestling Championships can sometimes be a cruel animal to even some of the best grapplers in the Commonwealth.

It’s just the nature of the beast.

Take the Cocalico contingent, for example.

Reigning State medalist Ben Fromm, an eighth-place finisher a year ago at 195 pounds, appeared to have a chance to equal or better that this year after winning a sectional title and placing second at the District Tournament two weeks ago.

Unfortunately, a head injury suffered in his second bout at States derailed those plans and ultimately closed out the senior’s career.

Three-time State qualifier Josiah Gehr, who finished one win shy of a medal in both previous appearances, closed out his outstanding career without a medal after history repeated itself. Gehr allowed a late takedown in the third round of consolations to Waynesburg freshman Wyatt Henson and dropped a 5-3 decision, keeping the Cocalico senior off the medal stand again.

And finally, fellow senior Joe Bearinger, who was besieged by injuries his entire career, finally was healthy enough for the post-season and got a pair of wins under his belt at States. A third and he would have left Hershey with a medal. However, a 12-3 loss to Selinsgrove freshman Nate Schon in the third round of consolations left him one win shy of a medal as well.

It was a tough pill for the Eagle threesome to swallow. But according to Coach Matt Fittery, it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

“Overall, it is definitely disappointing not coming home with any medals, but it was not for lack of effort,” he said. “I am very proud of them for all they have accomplished and how they have represented themselves and their school.”

Gehr (35-7) opened the tournament Thursday night with a tough 2-1 loss to Council Rock South junior Shane Hanson-Ashworth. Trailing 1-0 after two, Gehr fought for the entire period to get out from the bottom position, and nearly had the winning reversal late but Hanson-Ashworth held on.

Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr (top) works the head of Shane Hanson-Ashworth of Council Rock South during first-round action Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr (top) works the head of Shane Hanson-Ashworth of Council Rock South during first-round action Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey.
Photo by Missi Mortimer

That sent the Cocalico wrestler to the consolations where he responded with a pair of second period falls against Seth Hoopes of Octorara (2:26) and Tyler Kocak of Hampton (2:14) to reach the all-important “blood round” against Henson, the third seed out of the South West region.

However, with the score tied 3-3 late in the third period, Henson countered a Gehr shot and took the Cocalico senior down to the mat for the winning takedown in an eventual 5-3 verdict.

“Josiah was very close in his first match,” Fittery said, reflecting on Gehr’s tournament. “If he had a few more seconds, he likely could’ve gotten an escape or reversal, but he just ran out of time. Then in his final match, it was tied and came down to one final takedown, and unfortunately he didn’t come out on top of that one either.”

Gehr, who will wrestle next season at Messiah College, closes out his career with 122 wins, placing him third all-time behind Steve Fittery (139) and teammate Fromm (125).

“It was definitely heartbreaking to see Josiah so close to a medal again and just barely miss out,” Fittery said. “That’s his third year in-a-row being one match away, so it was a tough one for him. As his coach I could feel his pain, and I went through it as a competitor too so I know how bad it hurts. Josiah has a tremendous positive attitude though and is always able to bounce back and not let the negative things drag him down in life. It’s exciting to know that this is not how his wrestling career ends because he is continuing his wrestling and education at Messiah.”

Fromm (36-6) met Blue Mountain junior Nate Stine, a Northeast regional champion in Thursday’s first round. It was a rematch from earlier in the year when the two met at the Bethlehem Classic where Stine pulled out a tight 3-2 decision.

This one was going down a similar tight path as Fromm’s takedown midway through the second gave the Cocalico senior a 4-3 lead heading to the third.

But in the final two minutes, with Stine starting on bottom, Fromm rode a little too high and it cost him as Stine reversed Fromm and put him on his back for a stunning fall with 1:33 to go.

“Fromm simply got a little too high as he was on top running a bar, and the kid reversed him to his back and got the fall,” Fittery said. “It’s tough to lose that way because we know it was a winnable one for him.”

That sent Fromm to the consolations where he would meet another familiar foe in New Oxford’s Darrick Rudisill, a wrestler Fromm defeated 7-0 two weeks earlier at Districts.

This time, Fromm built a quick 5-2 lead and appeared to be in command. But as fate would have it, as the two wrestlers were locked up and going to the mat, Fromm landed face first.

After several minutes of testing, the Cocalico senior did not pass the concussion protocol and could not continue, thus giving Rudisill the win by injury default and eliminating Fromm.

“It’s a very tough way to end an incredible wrestling career, but he definitely came down on his head hard and we know the doctor had to make that call,” Fittery said. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking to end that way. We know he was capable of getting a medal, but unfortunately he did not get that opportunity this year.”

Bearinger (14-7) opened his tournament making quick work of Armstrong’s Ogden Atwood in the preliminary round, opening up a quick 5-0 lead before clamping Atwood with 32 seconds left in the first.

But eventual third-place finisher Greg Bensley of Pocono Mountain West then sent Bearinger to the consolations with a second-period fall over the Cocalico senior in the first round.

After receiving a bye into the second round of consolations, Bearinger recorded one of the fastest falls of the weekend when he decked Nick Chapman of Hatboro-Horsham in just 24 seconds.

That set the stage for a match-up with Schon, the impressive freshman, with the winner guaranteeing himself a medal.

Schon struck first, taking Bearinger down to his back to open up a quick 4-0 lead. Bearinger did cut it to 4-3 late in the first with an escape and takedown of his own but Schon got a key reversal late in the period to double up the lead to 6-3 after one.

Then in the second, Schon reversed out of the bottom and added a takedown to up the advantage to 10-3 heading to the third. Schon would add a final takedown to secure the win and a medal with a 12-3 victory.

“I thought Bearinger wrestled very well at States,” Fittery said. “With the string of injuries he has had, he was unable to get a lot of mat time over his career, but he made the most of it at the end. I know it is disappointing for him to finish one match away from a medal too. It is always difficult when you are so close, but he definitely wrestled hard and did the best he could in his circumstances. He had fewer matches over his four-year career than many wrestlers get in a single year, but he still made it to the top 12 in the State…that’s not too shabby!”




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