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Hockenberry makes history for West Shamokin wrestling

| Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Call him the beneficiary of timing or a small bracket, but West Shamokin sophomore Bill Hockenberry still goes in the books as the Wolves' first section title winner.

With two wins Saturday at Avonworth, Hockenberry (21-6) became champion of Section 3-AA's 106-pound class. He beat Burrell freshman Dean Edwards, 14-13, in the semifinals and topped Valley sophomore Sequawon Harris, 14-9, in the finals.

“(Confidence) is a little bit better than usual because this is my best year so far,” said Hockenberry, who is in his fourth season as a wrestler and his first at the varsity level.

West Shamokin's wrestling history is limited. The school offered the sport during the 2009-10 season when Elderton closed for a year. Elderton, which has a long history of quality wrestling, reopened in 2010 but closed for good in 2012. West Shamokin started offering the sport so that wrestlers could continue to compete.

Elderton last had a section champion in 2006, when Levi Smeltzer won a title at 119 pounds.

Only four wrestlers entered the Section 3-AA tournament's 106-pound class, so all advanced to the WPIAL Class AA tournament, which begins Friday at Chartiers Valley.

“It would've been better if I would've won more than two matches,” Hockenberry said.

The top five finishers in each weight class qualified for the WPIAL-wide competition. For West Shamokin, senior Brian Brown (second at 160), junior Brendon Glover (second at 182) and junior John Wissinger (fourth at 195) also made the cut.

Led by senior Penn State recruit Jason Nolf (145 pounds), Kittanning had two champions and 11 WPIAL tournament qualifiers.

Nolf (34-0) became a four-time section winner by pinning Burrell senior Corey Falleroni, and sophomore Jacob Robb (220), a champ at 160 last season, secured his second title with a pin as well.

Robb (33-5) moved up to the 220-pound weight class after competing at 195 for much of the season. A win over defending WPIAL Class AA heavyweight champ Al Beattie of Burrell late in the regular season convinced Robb that he'd thrive against heftier competition.

“That was kind of the deciding factor, that if I could hang with him, I could probably hang with anybody,” Robb said. “I'm much quicker than most of them, so it's easier to get in on the legs.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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