BETHLEHEM To say Michael Dahlstrom's victory in the quarterfinals of the Northeast Regional Class AAA Wrestling Tournament at Freedom was big is a massive understatement.
After enduring a disappointing third place finish at districts a week ago, Dahlstrom earned himself a dose of redemption Friday night by knocking off Delaware Valley's C.J. Palmer 3-2 in an ultimate tie-breaker to advance to this morning's semifinal round.
Dahlstrom (126) is one of four Bears to advance to the semifinals as he was able to ride Palmer out in the final overtime period to secure the crucial point to make his trip to Hershey a bit more easier.
"This was probably one of the biggest matches of my life," said Dahlstrom. "As a senior, I know this could be the last high school tournament of my career, so there was a lot of pressure going into this match because C.J. is one of the best wrestlers in the state and I knew that if I lost I needed to win four straight bouts to make it to Hershey."
Dahlstrom and Palmer exchanged escapes in the second and third periods to send the bout tied at 1-1 into overtime. A scoreless first overtime led to Dahlstrom riding Palmer out in the first ride out, followed by Palmer returning the favor in the next ride out.
Palmer was on bottom in the ultimate tie-breaker, but Dahlstrom was able to keep him wrapped up for only his second victory in seven attempts against the Warriors top gun.
"We've wrestled each other so many times over the years and we're both good friends, so I knew it was going to be a tough match," said Dahlstrom. "After how last week ended for me, that was all the motivation I needed to put in the extra work all week to wrestle better this weekend."
Pleasant Valley's light weights started the evening off on a right note for the Bears, as Kenny Yanovich (106) and Sean Bianco (113) both earned strong victories to push into the semifinals with confidence.
Yanovich scored a 9-4 win over Pittston's Mike Scarantino, while Bianco won a 12-2 major decision over Pottsville's Bailey Roos.
Yanovich will take on Nazareth's Tyrone Klump in the semifinals, an opponent he lost to in last week's semifinals by a 5-0 decision.
"I just have to change my pace against him because he really likes to stay in the middle of the mat," said Yanovich. "I just have to get after him and get better angles on my shots."
Bianco fought back spasms during his win over Roos, but is ready for a hopeful Saturday that could land him his first trip to Hershey.
"Once the adrenaline starts pumping, I don't feel anything in my back," he said. "It's not about how you win anymore. It's just about winning and getting to Hershey."
James Felipa (120), Ernest Klingel (132) and Bobby Feher (145) each lost their preliminary bouts and will start today's action off in the wrestle backs.
Alex Yanovich (145) lost a 5-3 decision to Wyoming Valley West's Derrick Simms in the quarterfinals, as Simms scored a reversal with four seconds left to pull out the win.
Heavyweight Mike Benner ended the night on a high for the Bears, as he knocked off district champion Daulton Romano of Southern Lehigh 3-2 to also advance into the semis.
Benner scored a takedown with 10 seconds left to go up 3-1 before letting Romano out at the end.