HERSHEY - Northern Lehigh's Ty Herzog felt that if he went into Friday morning's Class AA 152-pound semfinal against Southern Columbia's Blake Marks as the aggressor, he'd be in good shape.
Herzog did just that, never letting Marks take a lead, and scoring a 10-7 decision to move into the semifinal round and guarantee himself a medal.
Herzog (30-4) will meet Coudersport's Kyle Bova (38-1) for the right to wrestle in the final Saturday afternoon here at the Giant Center.
"His style was a little bit like mine," Ty said afterwards. "He tried to keep moving through everything so I knew I had to keep wrestling."
Herzog took a 2-0 lead with a takedown 58 seconds into the match, but Marks got a point when Herzog locked his hands and then escaped with 44 seconds left. Herzog picked up a takedown with 22 seconds remaining, but Marks escaped with five ticks on the clock to cut Herzog's lead to 4-3 after one.
"When he got those points at the end of the first period I tried not to let it bother me," he said. "I just tried to look past it."
Two escapes and a takedown in the second period had Herzog looking good and a reversal by Marks combined with another late escape gave the Nolei grappler a 8-6 lead entering the final two minutes.
Marks escaped with 1:21 left, but Herzog's takedown with just over a minute left made it 10-7 and he controlled the match the rest of the way.
"We were a little more comfortable on our feet with him" said Nolehi head coach Todd Herzog. "He's a big kid and a scrambler and looking at his record, his five losses were to real legitimate wrestlers.
"Ty did take control of the match and never fell behind and he stayed in good position all the time. I thought he was stronger on his feet and that kind of won the match. When we needed to stick a couple of takedowns, we did."
Northwestern's Michael Ortiz waited a whole year for another shot to make it to Hershey. He tore his ACL at the Southeast AA regionals last season and never got to take the mats a week later.
This time around, he finished as the Southeast runnerup, lost his preliminary round match, but battled back Thursday afternoon with a win in the first round consolation to survive for another day.
Ortiz (33-5) lost a 5-4 decision to Port Allegheny's Alexander Gular (31-5) and then bounced back for a 5-1 decison to eliminate Bethlehem Catholic's Nick Cortopassi (39-13).
"All of the matches are tough out here," said Northwestern head coach Jim Moll. "He beat Cortopassi 1-0 in the district final so we knew we'd have our hands full with him.
"He was more offensive than he was in the first match against Gular, which is good. It's hard to come back after a tough loss. When your goal is to be a state champ and with that first loss it's taken away from you, it's tough.
"He's been waiting to get out here for a long time and to lose right away it's heartbreaking. But it shows a lot of mental toughness coming back. We're happy with what he did."
In the opener against Gular, Ortiz fell behind 2-0, but escaped and took Gular down with 10 seconds remaining in the first period for a 3-2 lead.
Gular escaped early in the middle stanza to tie it at 3-3 and then picked up a takedown right before the buzzer for a 5-3 advantage. All Ortiz could muster was an escape with about a minute left in the match.
Against Cortopassi, he went for a takedown with 1:06 left in the second period for the first two points of the match and then saw the Golden Hawks' 170-pounder escape to trail 2-1 with two minutes remaining.
Cortopassi left Ortiz up at the start of the period giving the Tiger a 3-1 advantage and then the latter went to work. The two battled toe-to-toe until Ortiz got the clinching takedown with 10 seconds remaining.
He was set to wrestle the loser of the match between South Fayette's Mike Fetchet (40-3) and Brandywine Heights' Pete Renda (39-0) later this morning.
"You definitely have to wrestle smart and I definitely think I underperformed in my first match," said Ortiz. "I gave up some real sloppy takedowns, but you just have to adjust your goals and go after new ones."
Palmerton sophomore Zachary Graver (31-9) wasn't as fortunate as Ortiz, despite showing signs of wrestling better than he did in his preliminary round loss. Graver did grab a 1-0 second period lead over Hughesville's Kyle Barnes (36-5), but was taken down with 17 seconds left and then Barnes went on the defense with a 2-1 lead to start the final period.
Barnes escaped eight seconds into the period and scored a takedown 14 seconds later and Graver never recovered.
"He wrestled some tough guys, he's young, but he went out there and put out a good effort so I liked what he did," said Palmerton head coach Dave Lavin. "Even though it's the state tournament and he was in the spotlight, he didn't freeze or anything.
"He had good strategy and didn't give up. We knew how Barnes liked to wrestle, and I guess the mistake there was he did take good shots, but couldn't get a second effort. Barnes squared off of Zach's shots, but the effort was there."