BETHLEHEM Zane Heller admits to being superstitious. So when his friend Connor Hedash offered him his singlet to wear for good luck in Saturday's District 11 class A semifinal match against top-seeded Adam Phillippi, Heller put it on. It was a 1990s style Northern Lehigh throwback singlet that Hedash would have worn if he made it that far.
"I put it on like two minutes before I wrestled Phillippi and I went out and beat him," said Heller. "So I wore it [again in finals] and everything just worked out."
Eight Times News area wrestlers made it to the finals, 18 earned top four finishes and advanced to next week's regionals and 24 earned medals Sunday at the class A district finals, held at Liberty High School.
Heller, the No. 5 seed at 119 pounds, was the area's only champ.
The Bulldog sophomore pinned his first opponent, Tyler Boyer of Tamaqua. Heller pulled out a 2-1 overtime win against Bethlehem Cathlic's Jaydon Rice, the same wrestler he met last year in the quarterfinals.
"It was kind of like de javu," Heller said. "Last year I had a heartbreaker. I made it to the semis and lost then all the way and got sixth."
This time he pulled the upset, beating Phillippi, 8-5. The Pen Argyl senior was 33-6 this season before losing to Heller, who improved to 28-4 with his four district wins.
In the final, Heller grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period against Kody Rittenbaugh of Pine Grove and won the match 3-1.
"He put together one outstanding tournament," said Northern Lehigh head coach Todd Herzog. "He didn't have an easy match. He had four tough matches in a row."
Heller plans to wear the lucky singlet this weekend at regionals and the next week in Hershey.
"I'm very superstitious," he said.
Three of Heller's teammates came out on the wrong end of their finals.
Top-seeded Nikko Stevens lost to No. 2 seed John Lynch of Saucon Valley, 5-4 in the 135-pound final. Creamer Hedash dropped an 18-9 decision to Bethlehem Cathlolic's Kyle Dehaut at 152. And at 171 Colin Hedash, the No. 1 seed who was 28-1 heading into the match, built a 5-2 lead before getting taken down and pinned with just 41 seconds left in his match.
Bulldogs Ty Herzog (fourth place at 112) and Dylan Hoffman (third place at 140) will also advance to the Southeast Regional, held next week at Wilson West Lawn High School in Reading. The top four in each weight class advance.
Northern Lehigh took fifth place overall as a team.
"We thought we were a top five finishing team," Herzog said.
Lehighton finished right behind the Bulldogs in sixth place.
Only Briar Stern made the finals for the Indians, but a few of his teammates who got bounced into the losers bracket early battled back to place.
Stern, a No. 2 seed, had a first-round bye and pinned two opponents to reach the 285-pound final, where he fell to Williams Valley's Ben Ancheff, 2-0.
Lehighton's Anthony Farole (135), David Lucykanish (152) and Michael Balliet, along with Northern Lehigh's Hoffman, all lost in the quarterfinals then won four straight wrestlebacks to claim third place.
Panther Valley finished eighth as a team, led by finalists Nicholas O'Donnell (103) and John Sheaffer (215).
O'Donnell dropped his final bout 7-2 to Pius X's Anthony Bilotta. Sheaffer, a No. 6 seed who pinned three opponents to reach the final, was pinned in his final by top seeded Curtis Garner of Catasauqua in 3:50.
The Panthers' Michael Weaver (fourth at 160) will also advance to regionals.
Tamaqua had two regional qualifiers in Garth Lakitsky and Kolby Mashack.
Lakitsky, a No. 1 seed, had a 32-1 record entering the 189-pound final against Saucon Valley's Ian Gimbar but lost 3-2. Mashack took fourth by an injury default.
Northwestern and Palmerton will each send one wrestler to regionals. Dyan Long (112) took third place for the Tigers. Dan Costenbader (140) placed fourth for the Bombers.
District 11 Wrestling
1. Saucon Valley (SV) 198, 2. Pen Argyl (PA) 177, 3. Bethlehem Catholic (BC) 162.5, 4. Pius X (Pius) 153, 5. Northern Lehigh (NL) 141, 6. Lehighton (Leh) 124.5, 7. Tri Valley (TV) 115, 8. Panther Valley (PV) 87, 9. Catasauqua (Cat) 82, 10. Notre Dame Green Pond (NDGP) 74, 11. Pine Grove Area (PGA) 63.5, 12. Northwestern (NW) 59, 13. Tamaqua (Tam) 56, 14. North Schuylkill (NS) 53, 15. Williams Valley (WV) 46.5, 16. Palmerton (Palm) 46, 17. Mahanoy Area (MA) 40.5, 18. Allentown Central Cathlic (ACC) 37.5, 19. Wilson (Will) 36, 20. Jim Thorpe (JT) 24.5, 21. Schuylkill Haven (SH) 23, 22. Palisades 21, 23. Salisbury 15.5.
(Top four finishers move on to the Southeast Regional)
103 Anthony Bilotta (Pius) dec. Nicholas O'Donnell (PV), 7-2.
112 Randy Cruz (BC) dec. Jamie Welsh (PA), 3-0.
119 Zane Heller (NL) dec. Kody Rittnbaugh (PGA), 3-1.
125 Tyrone Deschler (SV) pinned Justin Mazza (Pius) in 5:52.
130 Mikey Racciato (PA) dec. Adam Chernaskey (Pius), 13-4.
135 John Lynch (SV) dec. Nikko Stevens (NL), 5-4
140 Allen Daubert (PGA) pinned Rex Lutz (PA) in 1:19
145 Philip Racciato (PA) dec. Elliot Riddick (BC), 2-1 in OT.
152 Kyle Dehaut (BC) dec. Creamer Hedash (NL), 18-9.
160 John Blank (NDGP) dec. Bryn Bowman (TV), 18-11.
171 Luke DeLuise (Pius) pinned Collin Hedash (NL) in 5:19.
189 Ian Gimbar (SV) dev. Garth Lakitsky (Tam), 3-2.
215 Curtis Garner (Cat) pinned John Sheaffer (PV) in 3:50.
285 Ben Ancheff (WV) dec. Briar Stern (Leh), 2-0.
103 Matt Williams (PA) dec. Bryan Isreal (SV), 5-4.
112 -Dylan Long (NW) dec. Ty Herzog (NL), 16-13.
119 Jaydon Rice (BC) dec. Adam Phillippi (SV), 4-2.
125 Richard Cruz (BC) dec. Ty Schoffstall (TV), 3-1 in OT,
130 Ryan Todora (BC) won by injury default over Kolby Mashack (Tam).
135 Anthony Farole (Leh) dec. Luciano Burriesci (PA), 3-2 in OT.
140 Dylan Hoffman (NL) dec. Dan Costenbader (Palm), 3-1 in OT.
145 Dillon Smith (JT) dec. Sam Scheib (TV) 5-3.
152 David Lucykanish (Leh) dec. Jonathan Nettled (SH), 5-3.
160 Michael Balliet (Leh) pinned Michael Weaver (PV) in 5:44.
171 Nick Edmonson (SV) dec. Garrett VanDeMark (NS), 4-3.
189 Tyler Horn (PA) dec. Luke Garner (Cat), 3-1.
215 Martin LaLuz (BC) pinned Nick Forte (MA) in 2:29.
285 Kenny Zurbano (SV) dec. Tyler Dean (NS), 3-1 in OT.
103 Jacob Hoats (Leh) dec. Casey Simmons (Cat), 7-5.
112 Michael Rodgers (ACC) dec. Joe Dalessandro (Pius), 3-2.
119 Cody Kievman (TV) pinned Colby Barrett (Pius) in 2:46.
125 Constantine Filipos (ACC) dec. Vinny Pellechia (Cat), 6-2.
130 Blake Bowman (TV) dec. Victor Embardino (NDGP), 5-2.
135 Josh LaBar (Pius) dec. Alex Snyder (TV), 8-6.
140 Jacob Giovanni (Pius) dec. Mike MacLaughlin (Wil), 7-0.
145 Bobby Clymer (NW) major dec. Justin Christman (PV), 11-0.
152 Mike Englert (Palm) dec. Greg Chrin (NDGP), 3-2.
160 Kyle Sorensen (NW) dec. Chris Rahs (SV), 6-3.
171 John Mertz (Leh) dec. Evan Hoffman (TV), 9-4.
189 Matthew Dorward (Leh) pinned Aaron Winkler (NDGP) in: 42.
215 Scott Yagielnskie (NS) dec. Kane Kralik (Palm), 7-2.
285 Luke Texiera (Pius) pinned Kirby Mutton (PA) in 2:06.