Kiski Area's first day at PIAAs brings calm, confidence
HERSHEY — About a minute after he finished up his 8-0 win in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA individual championships Thursday at the Giant Center, Kiski Area junior heavyweight Isaac Reid strolled to the far end of the arena floor to catch a glimpse of the bout that determined his quarterfinal-round opponent.
Reid sipped some water. He slowly rocked from leg to leg. He spoke only a few words and breathed easy.
Moments of peace proved elusive for Reid at the state tournament a season ago — his very first bout as a sophomore went to the ultimate tiebreaker phase of overtime before he won 2-1. So he embraced the relative relaxation that came with his latest stop in Hershey.
A calm actually settled over several of the Cavaliers during the first day of the PIAA championships. Reid, junior 126-pounder Noah Levett and senior 145-pounder Joey Blumer — all seeking their second individual state medals — advanced to the quarterfinals with convincing wins. They combined to outscore their first-round opponents 18-2.
“I wasn't going hog-wild,” said Reid, Kiski Area's most dominant first-round winner. “Just trying to attack. If that was a team dual, I'd want to attack a lot more. … It was just a fun win.”
Reid (41-5) will meet Erie Cathedral Prep sophomore Kawaun DeBoe (43-3) in the quarterfinals, which begin at 2:15 p.m. Levett (39-7), a 5-2 winner in the first round, gets East Stroudsburg South sophomore Patrick Gould (31-3) in the quarterfinals. Blumer (43-5) won 5-0 in the first round to earn a matchup with Bellefonte senior Brock Port (37-0).
Sophomores Darren Miller and Cam Connor remain in the hunt for third place. Miller, a 106-pounder, lost 5-4 in the first round on a last-second reversal but rebounded with a 5-0 win in his consolation bout. Connor, a 138-pounder, dropped a 3-2 decision in the first round but recovered with a pinfall win one match later.
“You see a lot of pretty good guys dropping down and leaving the tournament (on the first day), so I'm proud of those guys for dropping down, wrestling pretty solid matches and getting into (Friday),” coach Chris Heater said. “You want to get them into the medal rounds. Once you've got your guys to that point, it does kind of take the pressure off a little bit. Then it's like, ‘OK, what place do you want?' ”
A year ago, the Cavaliers encountered situations that toyed with their emotions on the first day. None among Reid, Levett or Blumer went winless in the tournament. But the heavyweight survived an ultimate tiebreaker scare in a preliminary-round bout. Levett won his prelim but lost in the first round. And Blumer accepted a first-round win via a forfeit when Parkland senior Jacob Lizak defaulted with a skin condition.
Blumer's latest first-round win involved more effort, but that didn't necessarily represent a bad thing.
“I wrestled really clean on my part,” Blumer said. “I did everything I wanted to do while I kept him away from his stuff. ... I felt in control the whole time. There were no parts of the match where I was really nervous or worried about what was going to happen.”
His mood might change when he squares off with Bellefonte's Port. But the Kiski Area senior, who earned his PIAA medal with a seventh-place finish in 2015, left the Giant Center on Thursday with a confident smile and little to no stress.
“I've done some homework on (Port),” Blumer said. “I know what he does. It's going to be good match.
“I would say (Port's perfect record) motivates me more than makes me nervous. I want to be the kid to give him his first loss. He looks like a state final favorite, so it'd be awesome to not let him get there.”