WEST LAWN For three TIMES NEWS area wrestlers, a trip to states is just one step away.
Lehighton's Connor Frey, Northern Lehigh's Ty Herzog and Northwestern's Michael Ortiz all earned their way into the Southeast Regional semifinals.
All three need to win just one more match (either in the semis or in the consolation round) to advance to Hershey.
Northern Lehigh's Ty Herzog earned a close 7-6 decision win over Wyomissing's Mason Smith in his quarterfinal matchup to advance to the semis at 152 pounds. Herzog and Smith were knotted up at four heading into the third period, making the match far from a sure thing.
Herzog earned a point for an escape early in the third to take a 5-4 lead. Herzog scored a takedown with under a minute to go to pad his cushion and increase his lead to 7-4. Smith made a charge near the end of the third, going for a takedown to close the gap, but Herzog held on.
Herzog will face Bethlehem Catholic's Mark Maloney in today's semifinals.
Lehighton freshman Connor Frey breezed through his first round match at 160 pounds against Bishop McDevitt's Chris Davis by an 8-0 decision. His next matchup would prove to be a much tougher task.
Frey went up against Bermudian Springs' Colton Dull in the second round, with a trip to the semis on the line. Dull came into the contest with a 40-4 record and was the clear favorite, even though Frey entered with a 28-8 mark.
Frey wrestled hard for three periods, and made Dull work for every single point in the match. With time winding down, the bout was tied at four with overtime looming. But the Indians' freshman gained an escape with 15 seconds remaining and held on to defeat Dull, 4-3, and punch his ticket to today's semis where he'll face Fairfield's Nick Mort. Mort is coming off an upset of his own after defeating Bethlehem Catholic's Connor Hedash in the quarterfinals.
Even though he was the underdog, Frey's confidence never wavered.
"I thought I had a good shot to go in there and give him all he could handle," Frey said. "I had a good warmup match (against Davis) that I won 8-0 and he was only a sophomore, so he was feeling the same nerves I was."
Frey hasn't let nerves get in the way of an incredibly successful season as only a ninth grader, compiling a 29-8 record to this point.
"I'm going for my goal," Frey said. "I just need one more win to get to states and I meet all my goals.
"My goals this year were 30 wins and get to states and I just need one more win to get to states."
Lehighton coach Dan Williams had similar praise for Frey and the poise he has shown throughout the season.
"All his hard work is paying off here," Williams said. "He's a freshman and he's in the semifinals at Regionals and he's wrestling like he's a senior.
"He's just staying confident and staying in good position and wrestling good, solid matches. That's what got him here to the semis and it's a really exciting day."
Northwestern's Michael Ortiz will be joining Herzog and Frey in the semis today after picking up a 4-3 win over Hamburg's Cody Miller at 170 pounds in the quarterfinals. A knee injury ended Ortiz's run before it even got started at Regionals last year.
"It feels good, unlike last year, to actually wrestle here," Ortiz said. "I only have to win one of my next three so it feels good.
"It's not necessarily about winning yet because that's out at states. It's all about getting out to states."
Ortiz will face Tristan Sponseller of Bermudian Springs in his semifinal matchup today.
Palmerton's Zach Graver also has a chance to move closer to states today in the consolation bracket. Graver lost to Northern Lebanon's Evan Daub in the first round, but rebounded nicely in the first consolation round by defeating Wyomissing's Mason Smith, 5-3.
Graver is looking forward to having the opportunity to advance to states.
"I feel great and I just have to take it one match at a time," Graver said. "I can't look too far ahead and just focus on one match at a time and wrestle each match like it's my last."
Palmerton coach David Lavin also likes Graver's chances to make some noise on the second day of the tournament.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing Zach Graver," Lavin said. "He had a tough first match (against Northern Lebanon's Evan Daub), but that was one of the smartest matches I've ever seen him wrestle.
"He's pumped and I can see it in him. I'm excited to see what he does."
Another TN area favorite, Tamaqua's Colin Mashack, was forced to withdraw due to a hip injury. Mashack, who won a district title last weekend and was a state medalist a year ago, was replaced at 113 pounds by Lehighton's Zach Kemmerer.
REGIONAL RESULTS OF TIMES NEWS WRESTLERS
106 - Jarrett White (Northwestern Lehigh) pinned Kenny Greene (Springfield) in 1:40.
113 - Zach Kemmerer (Lehighton) pinned Welsee Marshall (Bristol) in 2:31.
132 - Zack Christman (Palmerton) tech. fall Bobby Giacobbe (New Hope Solebury), 17-2 (4:53).
138 - Alex Gallaher (Camp Hill) dec. Joe Bubble (Palmerton), 8-4.
152 - Evan Daub (Northern Lebanon) dec. Zachary Graver (Palmerton), 9-4.
160 - Connor Frey (Lehighton) major dec. Chris Davis (Bishop McDevitt 1), 8-0.
195 - Austin Bashore (Hamburg) major dec. Richard Nase (Panther Valley), 10-2.
285 - Trevor Cupri (Schuylkill Valley) dec. Rian Shubeck (Panther Valley), 3-1.
106 - Coy Campbell (Upper Dauphin) dec. Jarrett White (Northwestern Lehigh), 5-4.
113 - Alec Torres (Wyomissing) pinned Zach Kemmerer (Lehighton) in 2:12.
132 - Jeffrey Inman (Annville Cleona) pinned Zack Christman (Palmerton) in 1:42.
152 - Ty Herzog (Northern Lehigh) dec. Mason Smith (Wyomissing), 7-6.
160 - Connor Frey (Lehighton) dec. Colton Dull (Bermudian Springs), 5-4.
170 - Michael Ortiz (Northwestern Lehigh) dec. Cody Miller (Hamburg), 4-3.
First Round Consolations
106 - Josh Renninger (Annville Cleona) dec. Jarrett White (Northwestern Lehigh), 2-1.
113 - Dalton Becker (Bermudian Springs) pinned Zach Kemmerer (Lehighton) in 1:42.
132- Chris Kummerer (Hamburg) medical default Zack Christman (Palmerton).
138 - Jasper Hankey (Biglerville) pinned Joe Bubble (Palmerton) in :29.
152 - Zach Graver (Palmerton) dec. Mason Smith (Wyomissing), 5-3.
195 - Brock Linebaugh (Bermudian Springs) major dec. Richard Nase (Panther Valley), 11-2.
285 - Nathaniel Kramer (Schuylkill Haven) dec. Rian Shubeck (Panther Valley), 2-1.