Fromm & Gehr successfully defend L-L wrestling titles

By on January 31, 2018
Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr (top) tries to turn Cade Zeamer of Manheim Central during the finals at 120 pounds. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Cocalico’s Josiah Gehr (top) tries to turn Cade Zeamer of Manheim Central during the finals at 120 pounds. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

While the L-L League Tournament generally features the individual, Ben Fromm’s decision to bump up from 195 to 220 pounds had everything to do with his Cocalico team.

With Fromm at 220, it enabled the Eagles to fill all 13 weight classes and give them a shot at maximum team points this past weekend at Garden Spot High School.

“It’s what was best for the team so I was OK with it. It wasn’t like I was forced to go up there…I actually wanted to,” he said.

And while facing bigger guys, sometimes giving up close to 20 pounds, the move didn’t affect the end result individually as the Eagle senior captured his second-straight L-L League crown with a 3-2 victory over Warwick’s Evan Clark in the ultimate tiebreaker round of the finals.

Fromm wasn’t the lone Eagle to earn his second-straight L-L League crown. Fellow senior Josiah Gehr, who recently joined Fromm in the 100-Win Club, successfully defended his title of a year ago with a solid 6-2 victory over Manheim Central’s Cade Zeamer in the finals at 120 pounds.

“My goal was not to lose a match all the way up through the season. That’s gone but the season has been going pretty well,” Gehr said. “Winning is ideal, so today I just went out and wrestled my best. That’s all I could do, and I’m pretty happy how it turned out.”

In all, Cocalico had a very successful weekend, collecting 11 medals and 191 point to finish third overall in the team standings behind champion Manheim Central (219) and runner-up Northern Lebanon (203).

In addition to the two gold medalists, Kayde Althouse placed second at 126 pounds, Seth Fritz took third at 113, Grant Swann (132) and Wyatt Gehman (195) were fourth, Austin Shaver was fifth at 285, Seamus Finnegan (138) and Owen Zimmerman (170) each placed sixth, Ben Sola (182) took seventh and Devin Sensenig (160) was eighth.

“Overall I think we wrestled tough,” Cocalico Coach Matt Fittery said. “There were some ups and downs. Obviously we wanted to try to win the tournament but to do that we had to have everybody wrestle to their best. Overall I think we did well. We had a couple letdowns but that stuff happens at a tournament like this. We had 11 medalists…I mean we wrestled tough.”

Ephrata, which placed 20th with 17 points, was led by Kelvin Cruz’s seventh place finish at 152. Cruz trailed CV’s Taylor Sheaffer by double digits in the seventh-place bout before Cruz turned the CV sophomore and pinned him in 3:59.

In addition to Cruz, Drew Myers was the Mounts’ other medalist, placing eighth at 182 pounds.

Fromm (29-2), who will go back to 195 pounds for the post season, pinned Pequea Valley’s Nate Miller (1:11) in the quarterfinals before knocking off TJ Moore of Cedar Crest 4-1 in the semis.

The finals featured a rematch from last Wednesday’s dual meet against Warwick when the Fromm bumped up to 220 and dealt the Warriors’ Evan Clark his first loss of the season with a 6-5 decision.

This time was a lot more calculated and played close to the vest, as Fromm escaped with five seconds elapsed in the ultimate tiebreaker round to claim a 3-2 win and the title.

“He definitely knew some of my tricks…I knew his, so it kind of downplayed the excitement a little bit,” Fromm said. “But overall I just stuck to the same things. I just tried to power through it.”

Following a scoreless first, Fromm and Clark (20-2) traded escapes in the second and third periods. Otherwise, the two grapplers battled in neutral, as Fromm picked his spots to attack while Clark defended well.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of offense from either guy,” Fittery said. “Ben was taking all the shots but wasn’t quite able to finish them. He was getting to his offense and the other kid was doing a good job defending.”

In the second and third OT periods, it remained tied while again swapping escapes, and the match proceeded to the ultimate tiebreaker knotted 2-all. Fortunately for Fromm, he got choice, took bottom, and quickly escaped for the win.

“I really respect him for (moving up to 220),” Fittery said. “That was really selfless of him to help out the team there and just help out our lineup and give us a better chance at a team trophy. I respect him for doing that and getting tougher competition too. It was a win-win.”

Gehr (25-3) pinned his way to the finals, earning falls over Warwick’s Connor Esbenshade (4:20), Penn Manor’s Dyllan Coleman (1:03) and McCaskey’s Nevin Estevez (3:17).

In the finals against Zeamer, Gehr had a much tougher time but excelled on his feet, collecting a pair of first period takedowns before getting another in the second after choosing neutral to go up 6-1 and key the eventual victory.

“I’m trying to get better on my feet so I’m making sure I’m shadow drilling after each match,” Gehr said. “I think that’s a huge thing that made me successful on my feet. I was just keeping after him, with misdirection…stuff like that. It helped me get the win.”

Althouse was Cocalico’s other finalist after collecting three-straight wins to earn his shot in the finals opposite top seeded Colin Leonard of Northern Lebanon.

But Leonard was in control from the outset, opening up a 14-1 lead before pinning the Cocalico wrestler with 15 seconds to go to clinch the gold.

Fritz lost his first bout of the tournament but responded with three straight wins to take third place at 113. He closed it out with an exciting 11-10 decision over Northern Lebanon’s Kyler Anspach in the bronze medal match.

Swann advanced to the semifinals at 132 before dropping a tight 3-0 decision to eventual champion Zach Zeamer of Manheim Central. Swann then downed Hayden Funck of Annville-Cleona by a 7-5 score to earn a spot in the third-place bout opposite Garden Spot’s Christian Schilling, who would go on to defeat the Eagle wrestler by a 10-2 major decision.

At 195, Gehman also advanced to the semifinals where he suffered a second-period fall to eventual champ Keegan McCord of Manheim Central. But Gehman responded with a fall of his own in 2:41 against Solanco’s Nick Yannutz to move into the third-place match. There, E-town’s Blake Andrews pulled out a 7-4 decision to give Gehman fourth place.

Shaver flattened Garden Spot’s Jacob Warner in 51 seconds to take fifth at 285, while Finnegan lost an 8-3 decision to Manheim Township’s David Over in the fifth-place bout at 138. Zimmerman, meanwhile, took sixth after he was pinned by Lebanon’s Dallin Ocasio in the fifth-place bout at 170.

After Ephrata’s Cruz pulled out his stunning victory at 152 to earn seventh, teammate Myers squared off against Cocalico’s Sola at 182. This time, Sola picked up the fall in 3:39 to claim seventh.

And at 160, Sensenig also advanced to the seventh-place bout against Garden Spot’s Nathan Smucker. In that one, Smucker edged the Cocalico senior 6-5 which gave Sensenig eighth place.

The post-season begins Feb. 17 with sectionals. Both Cocalico and Ephrata will compete at the Governor Mifflin site (Section One, AAA), where the top four wrestlers to place at each weight class will advance to Districts, which are set for Giant Center in Hershey Feb. 22-24



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