HERSHEY - Garth Lakitsky got a taste of the PIAA medal stand and will be looking for more.
The Hedash brothers made it back to the stand for the second time, and Nikko Stevens joined them for the first time.
That quartet from THE TIMES NEWS area captured medals at the PIAA Championships at the Giant Center, concluding with consolation matches on Saturday.
The TN Region batted .500 in the Class AA medal running, with four of the eight qualifiers taking home hardware.
Tamaqua junior Lakitsky led the way with a fourth-place finish, while Northern Lehigh grapplers grabbed the other medals. Junior Colin Hedash placed fifth while senior Craemer Hedash and junior Stevens each ended up in sixth place.
After Thursday's disastrous 1-7 start in the AA preliminaries, a four-medal showing is quite an accomplishment.
For Northern Lehigh, the three medals brings its all-time total to 56, out of 98 total State qualifiers.
"We're pleased with that," said Northern Lehigh coach Todd Herzog. "You can't ask for more than that, when you come out here with three and go back with three medals. We'll take that."
All four medalists wrestled at Chocolatetown last year, and that experience is crucial when competing against the Keystone State's best.
"I definitely got a feel for it from being here," said Stevens. "I was kind of shellshocked last year. Being here helped me a lot this time."
Lakitsky (38-5) also qualified for States a year ago at 189, although when pressed, he'll admit he wasn't at 100 percent. "I was sick with the flu last year," he recalled. "I only weighed 183 when I came out here."
This time, a full-strength Lakitsky made it all the way to the 189 pound semifinals, where his run to a State title was halted by Towanda's Travis Chesla. Lakitsky bounced back and knocked off Penn Cambria's Zak Newton 5-1 to earn the right to wrestle for third place.
In the bronze medal bout, Lakitsky's opponent, Schuylkill Valley junior Dylan Scheidt, led 1-0 on an escape heading into the third period. Scheidt started on the top and went with a quick tilt, which resulted in two back points and a 3-0 lead.
Lakitsky was caught off-guard by the nearfall call.
"I don't know if it was two points or not," Lakitsky stated. "I thought I turned to my stomach before he (the referee) counted to two. After that, I had to do something instead of just going for an escape and taking it to overtime, and it didn't work out."
Lakitsky got his escape, but tried to throw Scheidt for a late takedown and ended up with Scheidt on top of him instead, resulting in a Scheidt takedown and a two-point nearfall, sealing a 7-1 loss.
Despite the setback. Lakitsky earned Tamaqua's first State medal since Andy Snyder finished eighth in 2006. He also joins his father, Garth, Sr., as a State medal winner; his dad placed third for the Blue Raiders in 1985 and fourth in 1986.
The younger Lakitsky feels he has positioned himself for another State run for his senior year.
"I'm close to all of the kids I've lost to. I'm not that far away from winning these matches," he stated. "I'm going to lift a lot. Hopefully I can go up to 215 next year. I'm going to work hard until I get it."
Revenge for Colin
After placing fourth a year ago following a loss against Sharon senior Lewendo Teague, Colin Hedash missed out on a chance to wrestle for bronze again when Teague edged him 3-2 to knock him into the fifth place bout.
There, Colin (36-5) got another rematch, this time with Burrell freshman Dakota Deslauriers, who defeated him 10-3 in the prelims.
This time, Colin kept the action under control. Each wrestler managed an escape during regulation, taking a 1-1 deadlock to overtime, but it was Colin who scored the takedown with 20 seconds left in the sudden victory period for a 3-1 decision.
"It was just the mental aspect of it," said Colin as to what happened differently in his rematch. "The first match, I wasn't feeling too confident. I made more of it than it was. This time, I relaxed, went out and let it fly."
Colin said he will continue to wrestle freestyle in the offseason in order to sharpen his skills.
"This was a good season, and this was a nice way to end it," he said. "I'm looking forward to next year."
Craemer Hedash (32-10) placed eighth a year ago and improved on that with a sixth place medal this time, although he dropped a 9-2 decision to Burrell junior Travis McKillop for fifth. McKillop picked up five nearfall points in the second period to achieve separation.
Craemer has 98 career wins, and he plans to wrestle at National High School Coaches Association nationals to reach the century mark.
"Craemer is a great kid who worked hard for us for three years, and I like to see positive things happen for him," said Herzog. "He's won one of the District 11 scholarship awards, and he will be our scholar-athlete, too."
Stevens (33-10) finished sixth after falling 9-5 to Schuylkill Valley senior Mike Giorgio, but he sees even better things ahead for himself.
"I'm looking to improve and open up more on my feet," Stevens related. "I want to step higher on that podium."