WEST LAWN - Rematches are always a possibilty at Regionals.
Wrestlers may face an opponent they saw the previous week at Districts, or even a foe they met earlier in the bracket, for the right to stay alive for a State berth.
Northern Lehigh's Craemer Hedash and Tamaqua's Garth Lakitsky both got rematches of their District 11 finals during Saturday night's PIAA Southeast Class AA Regional title tilts.
While neither was able to reverse the outcome of losses the prior week, each took home silver medals from the Regional competition among Districts 1, 3 and 11 at Wilson High School.
A total of eight TIMES NEWS area wrestlers placed among the top five of their respective weight classes and advance to the PIAA State Championships, which begin Thursday at Hershey's Giant Center.
Earning bronze medals were Northern Lehigh's Nikko Stevens (135) and Colin Hedash (171) and Tamaqua's Kolby Mashack (130). Jim Thorpe's Dillon Smith (145) and Briar Stern (285) each placed fourth, while Northwestern's Dylan Long (112) took fifth place.
Four TN area matmen just missed a trip to Hershey with sixth place finishes: Northern Lehigh's Ty Herzog (112) and Zane Heller (119) and Lehighton's Anthony Farole (135) and David Lucykanish (152).
If the names of the TN area State qualifiers look familiar, it is because each of them competed at the PIAA Championships last season, with three of them returning medal winners: Colin Hedash (fourth at 160), Long (seventh at 103), and Craemer Hedash (eighth at 145).
Craemer Hedash (29-7) knocked off Schuylkill Valley junior Guliano Caloiero 7-3 in the 152 pound semifinals to get another shot at Bethlehem Catholic's Kyle Dehaut (34-6), who scored an 18-9 major decision over the Bulldogs' senior in the District 11 finals.
The rematch needed an overtime period to decide the outcome.
After a scoreless first period, Craemer reversed Dehaut at the 1:05 mark of the second for a 2-0 lead. Dehaut escaped at the edge of the mat with 17.1 seconds left to cut it to 2-1.
Dehaut took the bottom to begin the third period and escaped with 1:41 remaining to gain the 2-2 deadlock, which carried over into overtime.
Craemer tried to shoot in on Dehaut's legs in the OT, but before he could gain hold, Dehaut locked up a cement job on Craemer's head and rolled him on his back for a five-point takedown and nearfall combo that resulted in a 7-2 decision.
"It's a high risk, high reward move," said Dehaut. "I knew if I went for it and missed, he'd catch me on my back and the match is over."
"The first time we wrestled, he hit me with a five-point move and I lost my head," said Craemer. "This week I felt I could take him down, but I didn't set it up right and he took advantage of my mistake. He's definitely a strong competitor.
"I think I fared a little bit better this time, but it's in the past already. I'm looking at the positives and negatives and will see what I can do about States."
Tamaqua junior Lakitsky (35-3) engaged in a rubber match battle with Saucon Valley junior Ian Gimbar (40-5) in the 189 pound final. Lakitsky scored a 17-2 technical fall over Gimbar in the regular season, with Gimbar winning 3-2 in the D-11 final.
The battle was scoreless after one period. Gimbar scored an escape with 133 seconds left in the second for a 1-0 lead. A late Lakitsky tackle took Gimbar to the mat, but the officials ruled it came after the buzzer.
Gimbar conceded the tying escape to Lakitsky to start the third. Gimbar then shot in on Lakitsky's leg and worked a takedown at the 1:39 mark for a 3-1 edge.
Lakitsky reversed Gimbar with 1:24 left. He attempted to tilt Gimbar to his back late in the bout but was not rewarded with back points. Gimbar finally wriggled free for a reversal with three seconds left for a 5-3 win.
"I'm happy to have made it to the finals, but I wish I could have done a little better," said Lakitsky. "I was trying to turn him over at the end, but I got a little high and fell back."
"In my opinion, I thought he had him on his back for at least a three-count, so with the reversal, it should have been 5-5," said Tamaqua coach Jim McCabe. "I also thought he had him on the mat for the takedown before the buzzer at the end of the second."
The Blue Raiders' Mashack (35-5), bounced back from his quarterfinal loss to Hamburg's Derek Goodwin to win four straight bouts and place third. Along the way he beat Saucon Valley's Adam Chernanskey, who beat him at Districts, and knocked off Goodwin 7-5 for third place, making him 2-1 vs. the Hawks' stalwart this season.
"When I wrestled him (Goodwin) the last time, I was going for big moves and got sloppy. This time I tried to keep it nice and close," said Mashack. "I guess my conditioning paid off again."
Stevens (30-7) ran into defending State champ Nick Hodgkins of Wyomissing and lost in the semis but rebounded to grab third, including an OT tiebreaker win over Pen Argyl's Luciano Burriesci and a 3-2 verdict over Saucon Valley's John Lynch, who bested him in the D-11 finals.
"I knew I had to step up my game," said Stevens. "I was very happy. I didn't feel as much pressure once I got to the third place bout, so I just let it fly the whole match."
Colin Hedash (32-3) also wrestled back strong after an opening loss to eventual 171 pound champ Ricardo Plummer of York Suburban with four straight wins, including a 5-3 win for third place against Hamburg's Glenn Miller, who entered the tourney 39-0.
Thorpe senior Smith (34-10) came back from a quarterfinal loss to Schuylkill Valley's Noah Horst with three consolation wins before falling to Hamburg's Jackson Stabile 3-1 to finish fourth.
Lehighton senior heavyweight Stern (25-11) lost to Tylor Unger of Boiling Springs 3-2 in the semis, then pinned Saucon's Kenny Zurbano to clinch the berth at States before dropping a 3-2 decision to Juniata's Dan Fultz in the third place bout.
Northwestern senior Long (29-5), who won his 100th career match by beating Springfield's Zach MacGregor in the consis, knocked off Ty Herzog for the third time this season to capture fifth place.
Other TN area Regional qualifiers who didn't make it through were Panther Valley's Nick O'Donnell, Mike Weaver and John Scheaffer; Lehighton's Mike Balliet; No. Lehigh's Dylan Hofmann; and Palmerton's Dan Costenbader.
In the team race, Schuylkill Valley took the crown with 151 points. Northern Lehigh finished seventh with 62.