Three Eagles seek State medals in Chocolatetown

By on March 7, 2018
Cocalico’s Ben Fromm heads to the State Tournament this weekend, along with Josiah Gehr and Joe Bearinger. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Cocalico’s Ben Fromm heads to the State Tournament this weekend, along with Josiah Gehr and Joe Bearinger. Photo by Missi Mortimer

For the first time in school history, Cocalico will send a trio of wrestlers to the PIAA State Championships, which will be held Thursday through Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey.

Senior 120-pounder Josiah Gehr makes his third trip to States while fellow senior Ben Fromm also returns at 195 pounds where he took home an eighth-place medal a year ago.

Making his first appearance at States will be fellow senior Joe Bearinger, who punched his ticket two weeks ago with a fourth-place finish at Districts.

“Overall we are happy to have three guys going to States,” Cocalico Coach Matt Fittery said last week. “The bottom line is punching your ticket and making it through (to States), and having three guys get there is great.”

Two years ago, Gehr was just one win away from winning a medal in his debut at States. Last year, he found himself on the wrong side of a brutal bracket and finished 1-2 for the tournament.

Will the third time be the charm for Gehr?

Certainly after his performance at Districts, where wrestled extremely well going 5-1 en route to a bronze medal, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Eagle senior on the medal stand late Saturday night.

“I think Josiah has been wrestling great,” Fittery said Tuesday. “He lost a tough one at Districts and bounced back with two great matches. That is the mentality it takes to get a medal this weekend.”

Gehr (33-5), the third-seed out of the South Central Region at 120, opens the tournament Thursday afternoon (4 p.m.) in the Round of 16 with a first round bout with two-time National Prep medalist Shane Hanson-Ashworth (33-10) of Council Rock South.

Hanson-Ashworth, a junior, is seeded second out of the South East Region.

Should Gehr get past Hanson-Ashworth, he’ll likely square off against North East regional champion Sean Pierson (43-6) of Nazareth in the Quarterfinals. Earlier this season at the Bethlehem Classic, Pierson defeated Gehr 7-3 in the semifinals of that tournament.

In addition to Pierson, the State’s top-ranked wrestler at 120, Logan Macri (35-2) of Canan-McMillan, is also lurking on the bottom half of the bracket. In the top half, defending 106-pound champion Doug Zapf of Downingtown West awaits as well.

“Josiah has been one match away from a medal the last two years, so I believe he’s definitely good enough to get a medal this year,” Fittery said. “Last year he had a real tough draw and lost to the first and third place kids. It looks like he is in a better spot this year. He has improved a lot, and I am confident he will get over the hump and make the podium this year.”

After placing eighth a year ago, Fromm (36-4) is determined to get back on the medal stand this weekend. However, he has a tough draw in the Round of 16, squaring off against North East regional champ Nate Stine (33-2) of Blue Mountain, who is ranked sixth in the State at 195 coming into the tournament.

The two wrestlers actually met earlier this season in the Bethlehem Classic where Stine pulled out a 3-2 decision. If Fromm, who tweaked his knee in the District Finals two weeks ago, gets through that bout and remains healthy, a trip to at least the semifinals could be in store for the Eagle wrestler.

“For Fromm, confidence is huge and having already been there and placed is a huge confidence boost,” Fittery said. “(In his 3-2 loss to Stine early in the season) it was one that he knows he could’ve won. He is very confident that he will win the rematch and get another State medal.”

North West Regional champ Cole Urbas (26-1) sits atop Fromm’s top half of the bracket. The bottom half of the bracket appears to be much stronger with five of the top seven ranked wrestlers in the State sitting on that side, including Luke McGonigal (31-1) of Clearfield, who was ranked first going into the tournament.

“I am definitely confident that he can get a medal,” Fittery said. “His weight (class) is pretty wide open, so a run at the finals is definitely a possibility.”

Bearinger (12-5) enters his first tournament off a regular season in which he was in and out of the lineup due to injuries. In fact, he forfeited his third-place bout at Districts at 220 pounds in order to preserve some health heading into States.

He’s the lone Eagle who will have a preliminary bout, which pits him against South West third-place finisher Ogden Atwood of Armstrong. The winner of that prelim will move on to face North East regional champ Greg Bensley (23-3) of Pocono Mountain West in the Round of 16.

“Bearinger has definitely had a rough string of injuries and has had very few opportunities over the last four years, but it was awesome to see him make the most of his opportunity and qualify for States,” Fittery said. “He is definitely capable of surprising people and getting a medal. He is incredibly strong, and has wrestled all the way through elementary school. So despite his lack of varsity time, he is a very good wrestler. I said in the beginning of the year that he is capable of a State medal, and everyone is going to be wondering where he came from!”

Thursday’s AAA session, which begins at 4 p.m., will include the preliminaries, first round and first round of consolations.

Action continues Friday at 2:15 p.m. with quarterfinals, as well as second and third rounds of consolations.

The tournament will then conclude Saturday with two sessions. The first session begins at 9 a.m. with semifinals, plus fourth and fifth rounds of consolations. The final session will start at 7 p.m., which will include the finals, plus third, fifth and seventh place bouts.

The top eight wrestlers at each weight class will receive medals at the State Championships.


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