Wrestlers headed to Hershey
After a long and exhausting weekend, a total of four local wrestlers survived regionals, and have earned a trip to the PIAA State Tournament at Hershey, which begins early this week.
Of those four, two won championships on Saturday.
Connellsville's Jarrod King (135) and Southmoreland's Shane Datz (189) each took top honors at their respective regional tournament.
King won the WPIAL/PIAA Class AAA Southwest Regional Tournament at Ringgold as he knocked off Greensburg Salem's Eric Svec 5-3 in the semifinals, then claimed the championship by beating Chartiers Valley's Mark Kirsopp 5-0 in the finals.
King was joined on Saturday by nine teammates, but none could make the cut.
Steve Bell (103), Buddy Graft (125) and John Ferens (152) each earned wins in the second and third rounds of consolations, but all three fell one match short of qualifying for states thanks to losses in the fourth round of consolations.
Kyle Martin (130) made it through the second round of consolations, but was beaten in the third round. Josh Martin (112), Seth Nicholson (119), Jason Doppelheuer (160), Shawn Stewart (171) and Greg Gray (heavyweight) were eliminated in the second round of consolations.
Mount Pleasant also has one wrestler advancing to the state tournament. The Vikings' Jim Wilkinson (145) lost in the semifinals, but came back to post a 4-0 decision over Penn-Trafford's Justin Smith in the fourth round consolations.
Then in the battle for third place, Wilkinson was beaten by Canon-McMillan's Brandon Steele 5-3. Wilkinson will enter the state tournament as the fourth seed from the WPIAL.
Mount Pleasant's Matt Neal (135) was ousted in the second round of consolations.
In Class AA, Southmoreland enjoyed a fairly successful weekend as two of three wrestlers qualified at the PIAA Southwest Regional at Pitt-Johnstown.
Datz was the big winner as he scored a 7-4 decision over Mount Union's Josh Kirsch in the semifinals. He then went on to beat Yough's Brian Hall in the finals, 5-2.
Datz will be joined in Hershey by teammate Josh Peterson. The Southmoreland senior scored a 9-2 decision over Forest Hills' Jim Gallaher in the consolation semifinals. Peterson was beaten in the battle for third, and will enter as a fourth seed.
The Scotties' Justin Poole (heavyweight) was eliminated after suffering losses in the consolation semifinals and quarterfinals.'
The PIAA State Tournament will begin on Thursday.