HERSHEY – Both Colin Hedash and Garth Lakitsky have wrestled in the State semifinals before.
This evening, their mission is to take it one more step.
Hedash, Northern Lehigh's senior 171 pounder, and Tamaqua's Lakitsky, a senior wrestling at 215, each won their quarterfinal bouts this morning at the PIAA Class AA Championships at Hershey's Giant Center.
Two other TIMES NEWS area grapplers, No. Lehigh's Zane Heller (125) and Northwestern Lehigh's Bobby Clymer (152), both lost in the quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs' Hedash (32-2) advanced to the AA semis as a sophomore before settling for fourth place. Last year he dropped his opening bout but wrestled back for fifth place.
Hedash, the District 11 and Southeast Regional champ, was in complete control of his quarterfinal match-up against senior Sam Guidi (32-6) of Fort Cherry, the Southwest Regional runner-up, posting a 13-3 major decision.
Hedash grabbed the leg of Guidi for a takedown with four seconds left in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
Guidi started the second period on the bottom and rolled away for an escape to cut it to 2-1, but Hedash dumped him back to the mat for a takedown at the 58 second mark to increase his lead to 4-1.
Hedash pulled away from Guidi in the third period, scoring a reversal, three nearfall points, an escape and a final takedown to close it out.
"It was nice that we kept moving," said Hedash. "I do my best when guys come after me. I like it better when there's action like that. I felt tough on top today, and I'm feeling good at any position right now."
Hedash will face undefeated Grove City junior Wes Phipps (28-0) in the semis. Phipps picked up his 100th career win with a 9-5 victory over Mike Cobb of Wyalusing in the quarterfinals.
In the other half of the 171 pound bracket, Burrell sophomore Dakota DesLauriers (45-5), who split two bouts against Hedash in last year's State Meet, will square off with undefeated Lewisburg senior Nathaniel Brown (36-0).
Hedash isn't going to look ahead, however.
"I have to go out and wrestle my match," mentioned Hedash. "This is my last shot at it."
The Blue Raiders' Lakitsky remained unbeaten at 40-0, breaking the Tamaqua school record for victories in a season.
A fourth place finisher at 189 pounds last year, the bulked up Lakitsky has been taking care of business at 215, although Fort LeBouef senior Brandon Bradney (31-7) extended him the distance for just the third time this season.
In the end, Lakitsky had built up a big enough advantage to prevail by a 12-7 decision.
Lakitsky, the D-11 and Southeast Regional kingpin, lifted Bradney with a whizzer to score the first takedown. Bradney, the Northwest Region runner-up, escaped to cut it to 2-1 after one period.
In the second period, Lakitsky picked up a three-point nearfall to gain some breathing room.
"It was just a scramble and I was able to throw him to his back," stated Lakitsky.
With Lakitsky leading 9-3 after two periods, Bradney scored two escapes and a takedown in the third to make it closer, but a Lakitsky escape and takedown held off the rally bid.
"I felt he had a decent shot with his low single, but I got a little tired and gave up some sloppy points, admitted Lakitsky. "I wasn't worried, because I was ahead by enough."
"I think Garth wrestled smart and scored when he could," mentioned Tamaqua coach Jim McCabe. "You can't dominate every kid down here, but he dominated the match. I feel he's on track."
The 215 bracket had a lot of upheaval in the quarters, as last year's State champion, Eric Laytos of Lackawanna Trail, and runner-up Matt Mongera of Seneca, who was 41-0, were both knocked off.
Lakitsky will take on Northern Bedford senior Joel Suter (26-1), who pinned Laytos in 1:06, as his semifinal opponent. The other semifinal pits Burrell senior Brian Beattie against Milton sophomore Ryan Solomon, who pinned Mongera in overtime.
Lakitsky was at this point last year and is aware of what is at stake.
"I got to do one better this year," he stated.
No. Lehigh's Heller (29-6), a two-time District champ and current Southeast Regional gold medalist ran into a tough Claysburg-Kimmel junior Ty Dively (43-3) in the 125 quarters.
Dively immediately bear hugged Heller to the mat and locked up a half-nelson to register the fall in 1:02.
Northwestern Lehigh's Clymer (32-6), a District 11 champ and Regional runner-up, took on senior David Osterberg (39-3) (District 10) in his 152 quarterfinal match and lost a 7-3 verdict.
Osterberg, the Northwest Regional champ, used a single left and a lift for his first takedown. Clymer escaped to cut it to 2-1, but an Osterberg reversal in the second period widened the gap to 4-1.
Clymer began the third period on the bottom and reversed Osterberg to close within 4-3, but Osterberg escaped and picked up a late takedown as Clymer had to shoot out the works.
At press time this morning, Heller and Clymer were scheduled to wrestle in the second round of consolations.
End of the Road
Two TN area wrestlers saw their seasons end with losses in the first round of consolations on Thursday.
Lehighton junior 140-pounder Anthony Farole lost his preliminary round bout against South Side Beaver senior David Demor by a 14-8 count.
In his consolation bout, Farole fell behind Penn Cambria senior Justin Miller and then scrambled to catch up, eventually dropping a 9-3 decision.
"I was looking to do my normal stuff until I got behind 3-0, and had to start doing bigger movers and wrestle sloppy," said Farole. "It was, go big or go home."
Farole, who completed his season with a 35-9 record, finished third at Districts and Regionals and gained some lessons from his first trip to States.
"This was pretty much the story of my season," remarked Farole. "I can hang with anybody on my feet, but I really need to work on the bottom for next year. I thought I was just as strong as anyone, but I don't know if I was prepared enough.
"I did get 35 wins, got through Districts and Regionals and got to States, so a lot of my goals for the year were reached."
No. Lehigh sophomore 145 pounder Ty Herzog was shut out by Muncy soph Troy Hembury 12-0 in his preliminary match-up. Herzog came much closer to a win in the wrestlebacks but lost a tight 5-2 decision to junior Tanner Hannold of Keystone.
Hannold led 3-2 late in the match with Herzog pressing for a go-ahead takedown. Hannold was awarded what No. Lehigh coach Todd Herzog felt was a questionable takedown near the edge of the mat with 16 seconds left that sealed the win.
"That was not a takedown," said the Dawgs' mentor. "It was a God-awful call. I saw the mat judge roll his eyes when it was called, but he didn't do anything about it."
Ty finished his season with a 30-9 mark.
"That's not the way we'd like him to bow out, but I'm still proud of him, as a parent and a coach, because he wrestled up six weight classes from last year (when Ty was a 112-pounder) and got out here."