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Bentworth's Mizia wins state title

| Monday, March 12, 2012

Bentworth senior 160-pounder Francis Mizia figured the outcome his meeting with Forest Hills junior Cody Law in the PIAA Class AA finals would hinge on who scored the first takedown.

Good call, champ.

Mizia (44-3) became Bentworth's second state title winner with a 3-2 victory over Law on Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

He scored the bout's only takedown with 13 seconds left in the first period.

The match-deciding point actually came three seconds into the third period, when Law allowed an uncontested escape.

But escape points for both wrestlers were expected.

"It was actually exactly how I'd thought the match would go," said Mizia, who joined 2002 heavyweight champ C. J. Wonsettler in the Bentworth record book. "Whoever would get the first takedown in the first period, and then we'd trade escapes, and that'd be it. I was happy to get that takedown; probably shouldn't have let him up with 10 seconds to go, though."

Law scored the first takedown when the two wrestled in the PIAA Southwest Regional semifinals.

The Forest Hills junior won that match, 4-2, and ultimately claimed the regional championship.

"We knew what we had to do, because the kid got the first takedown (in the regional) on a duck-under move," first-year coach Mike Shrader said. "We knew we had to be a little bit tighter in the first period, be in better position, and hope to get that first takedown. ?Neither one of them can ride each other. They both have real good explosion coming off the bottom, so we figured it'd be about five and half minutes on their feet, and that's pretty much what it was."

Mizia, a seventh-place finisher as a junior, barely celebrated after his victory.

"My dad told me when I was a little kid that if you do something good, act like you've been there before, so I kind of keep calm and relaxed," the senior said.

Charleroi seniors Josh Kwasny (39-6) and Aaron Toth (39-5) also capped their careers with medal-winning performances. Kwasny lost a tight 1-0 contest to Curwensville senior Jake Keller to place sixth in the 132-pound weight class. Toth defeated Lake-Lehman sophomore Austin Harry, 6-3, to take seventh at 126.

"Every match, my coach was telling me, 'Now or never. It's senior year,'" Kwasny said. "I've had a really rocky road. I didn't make weight (for the postseason) my sophomore year. Junior year, I wasn't really committed to the sport. ?To come here and place in probably one of the toughest weights in the tournament, it's really something."

Charleroi sophomore 138-pounder Nick Gavazzi went 1-2 in the tournament.

"We're all at about the same level," Kwasny said. "We're all trying to battle to place. It's like a big competition. We drill together. Only a couple pounds separate us. It's a big thing for all of us. I feel bad for Nick, but he has two more years."

By taking fifth in the Class AAA 160-pound weight class, Ringgold senior Jake Wisener (42-6) became the highest place-winner in program history; the Rams previously had two wrestlers finish seventh.

"I honestly saw this coming the whole year," Wisener said. "Nobody knew I was coming: I was unranked in the WPIAL, unranked in the state. And at the end of the year, I'm fifth in the state, second in the WPIAL."

Wisener edged Austin Wilding, 3-2, in the medal match. It was his third one-point victory over Wilding of the season.

"He's a really tough kid," Wisener said. "Every single time, I had to give 100 percent, or he was going to beat me. I knew it was coming. I knew it'd be a grind. But I got it again."

Belle Vernon junior 170-pounder Adam Nickelson (37-7) placed eighth in Class AAA. He lost, 6-4, to Mechanicsburg junior Joey Krulock in the medal bout.

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