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Sports

Shaffer, Henderson place at state tournament

| Friday, March 14, 2008

HERSHEY--Derry's Travis Shaffer and United's Evan Henderson both placed at the PIAA Class AA wrestling tournament last weekend in Hershey.

A year after former Derry wrestler Troy Dolan won a state title, Shaffer showed that he has a chance to become the next great Derry wrestler, as he finished fifth place at 125 pounds.

Shaffer reached the semifinals with a 9-6 win against Bryson Brooke and a 10-4 victory over Austin Williams.

In Shaffer's first bout against Brooke, he fell behind 4-0 before battling back.

"It was a little nerve-racking," Shaffer said. "It's a big crowd, big arena, and they're all watching you. I made a mistake early and gave up a four-point move. After that I told myself there was no way I was going to lose.

In the semifinals, Shaffer lost 4-1 to Shady Side Academy's Dane Johnson, who went on to win the state title.

In the consolation bracket, Shaffer lost 4-3 to eventual third-place winner Cody Kelly before beating Penn Cambria's Ryan Link, 3-2. Link had defeated Shaffer in the third place bout at the Southwest Regional.

Henderson finished sixth place at 112 pounds but could have finished higher if not for an injury.

The United freshman opened his tournament with a 12-1 win against Adam Matthews before losing 9-7 to Joe Spisak, who went on to take second place.

Henderson fought back in the consolation bracket by beating Derek Brothers 9-1 and Mike Rhone 5-0. He then lost by default to Brock Waughen because he used up his injury time due to a dislocated finger.

He elected to forfeit the fifth place match against Tyrone's Aaron Schopp because a shoulder injury that he suffered earlier in the tournament had worsened.

"The next day he couldn't move his shoulder," United head coach Tom Whitcomb said. "It was like the stars were crossed up or something, but what a good tournament he had."

Evan's brother Rob, also a freshman, was faced with difficult competition at 130 pounds and went 0-2 for the tournament.

Rob Henderson's first bout was against Colin Shober, the undefeated champion from District 3, who beat Henderson 21-6.

"He hadn't been beaten that badly all year," Whitcomb said. "That was hard to recover from."

In the first round of consolations, Henderson lost 8-2 to Avella's Mitch Spencer, who had lost just four times all season. It marked the third time that Spencer and Henderson wrestled each other. They had matched up twice in the Southwest Regional with Henderson winning the first time and Spencer the second.

Whitcomb said both Henderson brothers have "a wonderful future." This was Whitcomb's last year as a coach at United after 23 total years that included 11 as the head coach.

Ligonier Valley's Myers Miller advanced to the quarterfinals at 160 by upsetting Southwest Region champion Ed Parliman 9-3 in the first round.

"I figured I have nothing to lose," Miller said. "I was a little nervous, but I feel if I score first I can beat anyone. Things went well. Usually my matches are low scoring. I was shocked I won, 9-3."

In the quarterfinals, Miller dropped a 4-3 decision to Garrett Morgan. Miller was eliminated from the consolation bracket in another close loss, 6-5, to Nick Lohrer.

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