HERSHEY - Lehighton's Michael Balliet, Northwestern Lehigh's Levi Veppert and Palmerton's Kane Kralik all finished their high school wrestling careers on a positive note on Saturday afternoon picking up victories to take home seventh place medals at the PIAA 2A Wrestling Championships here at the Giant Center.
Palmerton senior Sam Oberlander and Northern Lehigh junior Ty Herzog also medaled finishing eighth and Tamaqua's Colin Mashack settled for a sixth place medal rounding out the hardware collection of the local contingent.
Mashack, the Raiders' 106-pounder, wound up forfeiting his fifth place consolation match to Tyler Vath of Saegerstown, who decisioned him 7-5 in overtime in the quarterfinals.
In that match, Vath stretched Mashack's shoulder back so far he needed an injury time out so he decided to look at the whole picture and wants to get back into top form when he travels to Virginia Beach, Va. for the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals from March 28-30.
"My shoulder's always hurt, but he torqued it really bad in a power half when he put legs in," said Mashack. "They say it was close to a separation. If I would have been in the finals or wrestling for third or fourth I think I would have went for it, but for now it's best that I let it heal."
Balliet, Lehighton's 170-pounder, used a special move called the "Wacky Roll", better know in wrestling terms as the "Special Cement Job", to pin Mount Carmel's Brett Przekop in 3:26 of the seventh place consolations.
It was the second time this weekend that Balliet beat Prezekop.
"I went out there knowing it was my last match," said Balliet. "I told my coach before I came that I'm a lateral drop kind of guy or wacky roll kind of guy and I hit it. It helped a lot that I wrestled him before and beat him 6-3, but I just went out there with the feeling this was it and what do I have to lose."
Veppert, who told us earlier in the championships that he feels most comfortable when he starts on defense (bottom), used a second period escape for a 1-0 decision over Pen Argyl's Dylan Evans to finish seventh at 182 pounds.
Veppert actually had to step down from the medal stand for a moment after Tiger mentor Jim Moll draped the hardware around his neck.
"Evans picked him up and kind of had a half nelson on him and when he came down he kind of jammed his neck so its real stiff right now," Moll said. "The kids worked hard all year, especially Levi. You could tell him to run through a wall and it will make him better and he'll ask you what wall to run through. He's a great kid and deserved to win a medal out here."
Kralik battled Fort Cherry's Greg Kumer in the 220-pound seventh place consolation and jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period. The Bombers' senior used two escapes to counter a takedown by Kumer in the final two minutes to earn a 5-3 decision.
"I knew he had to try and get that two to try and tie it up to go into overtime," said Kralik. "I kind of knew he'd be going for a shot so I kept my right leg forward hoping that if he went down I felt better with that leg so I stuffed him.
"In the first period with it being just a minute in the consolations you want to try and get a quick score and be ahead As soon as he switched over and I got him to his back in the second period that was an advantage because it made me feel better because I was up 3-1."
Oberlander, Kralik's teammate took a 2-0 lead over Oley Valley's Joey Fick in the second period of their 120-pound seventh place consi. Fick quickly threw a cross-face cradle on Oberlander, however, and pinned him in 2:06.
Herzog, entered his seventh place 145-pound match with Evan Delong of Kane a little under the weather and Nolehi head coach left it up to him if he wanted to compete or not.
The Bulldog junior didn't make the trip to Hershey to watch from the stands so battled toe-to-toe for three periods before losing by a 10-5 decision.
Herzog fell behind 2-0 in the first period when Delong scored a takedown and then trailed 4-2 after the second period. Herzog took a shot at the start of the third period after Kane escaped, but the later scored a key takedown when it was 6-4 to seal the win.
Bethlehem Catholic, with five of the 10 wrestlers it took to states winning medals, won the team championship and Golden Hawks' head coach Jeff Karam also won the "AA Coach of the Year" Award.