Bentworth's Rothka on familiar ground
Bentworth senior Jake Rothka fought his way through a consolation bracket in the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional championships last season to secure a spot in the state tournament at Hershey.
Rothka again finds himself on the brink of elimination at the regional tournament, but he gave himself a more favorable route this time.
Able to win his first-round bout Friday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown, Rothka avoided the arduous climb from the very back of the consolation bracket to a medal match. A quarterfinal-round loss knocked him out of title contention, but a win in his ensuing match kept him in the hunt for a third, fourth or fifth.
Semifinals and consolation quarterfinals begin at 11 a.m. today. The top five wrestlers in each weight class advance to the PIAA championships.
“Anything is possible, so you just can't give up,” said Rothka, a four-time regional qualifier. “When you're in the loser's bracket, you've just got to keep pushing, because the kids that fall from the winner's bracket, they're usually just done mentally.”
Rothka has tried to ingrain that attitude in Bentworth sophomore 106-pounder Hunter Neely, who fell to consolations after a quarterfinal-round loss.
Those two, senior 126-pounder Matt Vickless and senior heavyweight Mason Shumaker, are still alive in the tournament for Bentworth, which sent seven to Johnstown. Vickless and Shumaker also start Saturday in consolations.
“You've just got to find that place in your head that tells you to keep going,” Rothka said of reaching Hershey. “You can't stop.”
For Yough, senior 170-pounder Lucas Richardson and junior 220-pounder Tom Sever still have shots at third place.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.