No Saad ending

By on February 25, 2015

 Cocalico junior qualifies for States

In a flurry of second period action, Cocalico’s 182-pounder Abdul Saad works to maintain control of Hempfield’s Jordan Ortiz in the AAA consolation finals. (Photo by Mike Shull)

In a flurry of second period action, Cocalico’s 182-pounder Abdul Saad works to maintain control of Hempfield’s Jordan Ortiz in the AAA consolation finals. (Photo by Mike Shull)

After being sent to the consolation bracket following a quarterfinals loss to Cedar Cliff’s Josh Colello at the District Three Tournament Friday night at Hersheypark Arena, Cocalico’s Abdul Saad received some helpful advice from Coach Matt Fittery.

“He told me just have fun,” Saad recalled. “When you’re here and you’ve already lost a match, it’s either you lose your match and you go home, or you win it and you keep going. You have nothing to lose going up. So that’s kind of the mindset I had going into every match. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Saad, just a second-year wrestler, let Fittery’s words soak in, and then he ran with it. The Cocalico junior responded to win three-straight bouts, including a 38-second pin over Cumberland Valley’s Dayne Ross to not only clinch a spot in Saturday’s third-place bout at 182 pounds, but punch his ticket to States as well.

Saad (30-8), who went on to earn a fourth-place medal, was the top local finisher and now will make his first appearance at the State Tournament when it gets underway March 5-7 in Hershey’s Giant Center.

“I haven’t wrestled for a very long time and to be able to just come out my second year and just have a chance to be here is an achievement in itself,” Saad said after receiving his fourth-place medal.

Fittery weighed in on Saad’s achievement as well.

“He wrestled an awesome tournament,” he said. “I’m so proud of him right now. He did all the right things. He got after it, wrestled hard every match and came out of here as a State qualifier.”

“He showed a lot of heart,” Fittery continued. “I mean, he came back strong and pinning those two in a row this morning to make it to States, that was just awesome. He believed and he went after it. When you smell blood, you’ve got to go after it.”

Saad got on a roll after earning a 5-4 victory in his first bout of the tournament against Red Lion’s Zach Shaffer (28-15), and his loss to Colello (41-4), the eventual champion at 182, in the quarterfinals.

He rebounded to win his first consolation bout late Friday, edging Cedar Crest’s Jarell Howard-Griffin, 3-2. It was sweet revenge for the Cocalico wrestler, who dropped a 6-3 decision to Howard-Griffith (31-12) in the L-L League Tournament a few weeks back.

Cocalico’s Abdul Saad is all smiles on the medal stand Saturday at Hersheypark Arena.  (Photo by Mike Shull)

Cocalico’s Abdul Saad is all smiles on the medal stand Saturday at Hersheypark Arena. (Photo by Mike Shull)

“I wrestled him before in the league tournament and going to wrestle him again, I had to get my vengeance back because I knew when I wrestled him before that I had a chance, but I just didn’t seize it. So wrestling him again, I had the opportunity to come back,” he said.

With that win, he advanced to face Big Spring freshman Blake Barrick (28-8), whom he would pin with a headlock midway through the second period to advance to face Ross with a State berth on the line.

Saad quickly seized the moment, slipping in a cradle to finish off Ross (11-10) in just 38 seconds to secure another trip to Hershey two weeks from now.

“It’s always within reach,” Fittery said of Saad clinching a State berth. “To be honest, I knew it would be tough for him and he had to wrestle really well to get there. And he did that. I’m sure a lot of people are surprised, but I know he’s not surprised. He knew he could do it all along and that’s the cool thing. When he just goes after and believes in himself, like I said, he’s tough to beat.”

Saad, who was making his first trip to Districts, said said he was a little nervous early on.

“I was a little shaky, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I was a little shaky coming in, but after I got the first match in, I felt a little better that I had something under my belt and I just kept pushing through the rest of the tournament.”

Unfortunately, he couldn’t close out third place as Hempfield’s Jordan Ortiz (38-2) had his offense going in their consolation finals duel. Ortiz, who led 2-0 after one period, took an 8-2 lead into the third period before he finished off Saad with a pin in 4:24.

“I wrestled Ortiz two times before,” Saad said. “He’s a very good wrestler and does a lot of work in the off-season. I’ve just got to pick it up on that.”

In the meantime, Saad will begin to prepare for his first trip to States.

“I told Abdul, once you’re there, anything can happen,” Fittery said. “The key is getting there. He’s there, and right now he has as good of a chance to medal as anybody else that’s right there. He’s there and if he keeps wrestling like he did (Saturday) he can bring home a medal. He’s just got to keep that intensity, stay in good position and wrestle hard.”

Saad was asked about his goals for his Giant Center debut.

“As of right now, being there is one big thing. But if I can even get somewhere near the podium, that’s all I need,” he said. “Coming back next year, I’m going to be up even higher on the podium.”

While Saad extended his season, three other Cocalico wrestlers saw their respective seasons come to a close.

Trevor Fichtorn, who captured a sectional title at Hempfield last week, closed out his season going 1-2 Friday night at 145 pounds. He came out strong, pinning Kennard Dale’s Austin McNamee (23-10) in 1:51 of the opening round. However, in the quarterfinals vs. Dalton Groff of Solanco, Fichtorn (25-10) trailed 4-3 late but couldn’t come up with the deciding takedown.

Then in his first consolation bout, Susquehanna Township’s Owen Watkins (35-9) defeated Fichtorn, 13-5 to eliminate the Cocalico wrestler.

“I think Trevor wrestled well in the loss against Groff,” Fittery said. “Groff is really tough wrestler and Trevor was right there in that match. Overall I feel he wrestled a good tournament. He wrestled hard, but things just didn’t go his way in the end. I thought the last match he wrestled was a lot closer than the score indicated too. The kid he was wrestling was very good with upper body throws and Trevor got in some positions that could have gone either way, but he just didn’t end up on top.

Eagle freshman Josiah Gehr and junior Adam Miller both went 0-2 at 106 and 113 pounds respectively in their first-ever Districts appearances. Both had brutal opening draws.

Gehr’s first-round match-up was against Central Dauphin freshman Chris Wright (37-7), who went on to win the District title. Wright pinned Gehr in 1:32 of the first round. Gehr then dropped his first consolation bout when he was pinned by Red Lion’s Jacob Frock (29-6) in 2:33.

Miller faced eventual fourth-place finisher Jake Cherry (37-10) of Central Dauphin in Round One, who won by a 17-0 technical fall over Miller in 5:01. Miller was then eliminated in the first round of consys by Brandon Rodriguez (31-7) of Dover, who pinned the Cocalico wrestler in 2:18.

“Josiah and Adam both had some really tough draws, but hopefully they can use it as a learning experience and see where they need to get to for next year,” Fittery said. “It will be a great motivator for them and now next year, they will already have the experience of wrestling at Districts so that will help them to qualify for States.”

“Overall, it was a great experience for our team to have four guys wrestling at Districts, and one qualify for States,” he continued. “It shows everyone else on the team that we are capable of advancing guys into the post-season. I am sure many of the boys who weren’t there this weekend are thinking of next year and saying, “why not me?”

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