Valley, Burrell advance 3 wrestlers each at state wrestling tournament
HERSHEY — Preoccupied with his first-round bout in the 182-pound weight class, Valley senior Terrell Fields missed most of the match on the adjacent mat, which involved his brother and teammate, senior 195-pounder Marcus Davenport.
Fields, though, witnessed the wild turn of events that ended with Davenport pinning his opponent.
Trailing through two periods in his first career match at the PIAA Class AA championships on Thursday morning, Davenport rallied to tie, fell behind again, then scored a reversal to set up his win over Cambridge Springs sophomore Zach Stafford.
Davenport (37-4) will meet Bermudian Springs senior Tristan Sponseller (40-0), a returning PIAA finalist, in the quarterfinals, which begin at 9 a.m. Friday at Giant Center in Hershey.
“I had to keep fighting,” said Davenport, who fell behind 3-0 and 6-3. “It was a little bit of a sloppy match, so I have to improve for tomorrow. I'm going to wrestle one of the best kids in the state and country (Friday), so I'm going to fight him and see what I can do.”
Fields (34-1), also in the quarterfinals after defeating Bermudian Springs junior Colton Dull, 2-1, believes Davenport's maiden Hershey experience might end with the 195-pounder on the medal stand.
“This is the last time he's going to wrestle in his life, so I want him to make the most of this opportunity,” said Fields, who placed sixth at 182 last season. “He can't give anything up easy. I think he can place in the top three. He has a great shot. Marcus on his feet, he's among the best of any (195-pounder) here.”
Fields will wrestle Bethlehem Catholic senior Jose Ortiz (36-6) in the quarterfinals. His first-round match, though close, failed to shake his confidence — he scored a takedown in the first period, and Dull's only point came when officials penalized Fields for a potentially dangerous maneuver in the third.
“I really could've racked up points on my feet, but I was just trying to ride on top and get the turn,” Fields said. “I have three matches left to get what I want. Tomorrow, I have a real big test. I've got to get it done.”
All three Valley wrestlers remain in the mix for PIAA medals, though senior 126-pounder Patrick Dewitt (40-3) can finish no better than third after losing a first-round bout 16-8 to Boiling Springs' Grant Bond. Dewitt recovered with a 4-1 win over Derry's Stone Kepple in the consolation bracket.
Burrell also begins Friday with three grapplers, as seniors Steve Edwards (152 pounds) and Corey Falleroni (145) and junior Al Beattie (285) advanced to the quarterfinals.
An opening-day win brought forth a brief sigh from Beattie (41-5), who went 0-2 as a sophomore despite winning WPIAL and Southwest region titles earlier that season.
“Last year motivated me,” Beattie said. “I knew I wasn't wrestling my ‘A' game, and I let things get into my head, and I shouldn't have. This year I've worked every single day, and there's not a day that I haven't thought about going 0-2 here last year.”
Beattie spent just 1 minute, 17 seconds on the mat before pinning North Schuylkill junior Nathan Gadinski.
“I didn't expect that at all,” he said. “I was expecting a battle, honestly.”
Edwards (43-4), who placed sixth a season ago, won his only bout 15-5, and Falleroni (39-13) prevailed 5-3 in the tiebreaker portion of overtime.
Kittanning senior Jason Nolf (41-0 at 145) moved a step closer to his third PIAA title with a second-period pin Thursday, and Wildcats sophomore Jacob Robb (41-7 at 220) won 7-4 in his state tournament debut.
Burrell senior J.R. Andrejcik (132) and Highlands senior Nolan Wise (152) both lost twice to exit the tournament.