Raiders' Lakitsky repeats; Panthers' O'Donnell first
STEVE SHINKO/special to the TIMES NEWS Panther Valley's Nick O'Donnell (top) works on Pottsville's Bailey Roos in the 103 pound weight class finals at the Schuylkill League Wrestling Tournament.
ORWIGSBURG - Garth Lakitsky took care of business well before the final buzzer.
Nick O'Donnell, however, needed almost every second.
While they took different paths to get there, both claimed spots atop the awards stand Saturday night at the Schuylkill League Wrestling Championships at Blue Mountain High School.
Lakitsky, Tamaqua's junior 189 pounder, repeated as champion at that weight class. O'Donnell, Panther Valley's junior 103 pounder, won his first league crown after placing second a year ago.
Two other TIMES NEWS area grapplers, Tamaqua's Kolby Mashack and Jim Thorpe's Dillon Smith, advanced to the finals in two of the tournament's toughest weight classes at 130 and 145, respectively, and took home silver medals.
Host Blue Mountain won its third straight team title with 283 points, outdistancing second place Tri-Valley's 203.
The Eagles sent eight matmen to the finals and crowned six champs, including Josh Kindig (145), a four-time winner; Brandon Choate (125), a three-time winner; Corey Keener (112) and Tyler Rauenzahn (130), two-time titlists; and Travis Moyer (152) and Brook Gosch (215).
Other champs included Shamokin's Brandon Pesarchick (135), Derek Shingara (140) and Wes Tillet (285); Pine Grove's Kody Rittenbaugh (119); Tri-Valley's Bryn Bowman (160) and North Schuylkill's Garrett VanDeMark (171).
Lakitsky remained undefeated, improving to 24-0 with 20 falls. He decided to test the waters at 189 after competing mostly at 215 so far this season.
"I was only at 195, so I didn't have that far to come down," said Lakitsky. "I want to see the caliber of competition for each weight."
Lakitsky was no less dominant at the lower weight. His three bouts lasted a combined total of three minutes, 41 seconds. He took out Panther Valley's Keith Cheadle in 24 seconds and Schuylkill Haven's Richie Batz in 25 seconds to reach the final.
Blue Mountain senior Frank Gaffney (14-7) managed to last the first period, but Lakitsky was still in command, racking up a 7-1 lead and putting Gaffney on his back twice for five nearfall points.
Lakitsky deferred choice to start the second period. Gaffney took the top position, but Lakitsky escaped, then dragged Gaffney down and covered him for the fall at 2:52.
"It was like every other match. I just went out and did what I had to do," said Lakitsky. "It feels good for me to get my name on the (Tamaqua wrestling room) wall twice (as Schuylkill repeat champ)."
The Panthers' O'Donnell (17-5), who placed second to Keener at last year's tourney, was seeded second to Pottsville freshman Bailey Roos (13-2), although O'Donnell had defeated Roos 3-2 in a triple overtime bout at the Anthracite Duals.
O'Donnell was well rested coming into the final, as his semifinal opponent, Upper Dauphin's Richie Koontz, forfeited. "I was pretty bummed out about that, because I wanted to get a match in before the finals," related O'Donnell.
O'Donnell took a quick 2-0 lead with a double leg takedown. Roos escaped to cut it to 2-1 after the first period.
O'Donnell won the toss and deferred his choice to the third period. Roos chose bottom and escaped to tie it at 2-2. O'Donnell spun around Roos for another takedown and a 4-2 edge, with Roos escaping to close back within 4-3 after two.
To start the third period, O'Donnell was on the bottom but was called for his third caution for a false start, resulting in a penalty point for Roos to deadlock the score at 4-4.
With time running out, O'Donnell was able to turn Roos for a reversal with eight seconds left for a 6-4 decision.
"I knew there wasn't a lot of time left," mentioned O'Donnell. "When he went to tilt me, I saw his legs were down, so I knew if I could get a hold of a leg, I could reverse him and hold on to the end."
The Raiders' Mashack (20-2), a junior who placed second as a freshman and third as a sophomore, defeated Shamokin's Josh Lahr, a defending Schuylkill champ and a sixth place State placewinner, by a 9-8 score in the semifinal to get a shot at Blue Mountain's Rauenzahn, who was a Class AAA state runner-up last year.
The West Point-bound Rauenzahn, who was also Schuylkill League cross country champ, used his quickness to get in on Mashack's legs for takedowns, including a couple near the edge of the mat. He scored six takedowns en route to a 12-6 decision.
"He (Rauenzahn) is pretty good on his feet," said Mashack. "I hoped to get him on the mat, but every time we were down there, he'd cut me (for an escape). I felt I did what I could."
The Olympians' Smith (17-4), who now has two silvers and two bronzes at the Schuylkill tourney, also ran into a tough customer in Kindig, a defending AAA State champion who is headed to Oklahoma State. Kindig displayed his prowess on his feet, piling up eight takedowns in registering a 17-7 major decision.
"He (Kindig) is very fast and it's hard to keep up with his pace," said Smith, who knocked off second-seeded state qualifier Allen Daubert of Pine Grove 7-5 in the semis. "He's one of the top wrestlers in the country, and for me to stay in there for six minutes with him is an accomplishment."
Other TN area wrestlers who earned medals were Panther Valley's John Scheaffer (third at 215), Kevin Schaller (fourth at 152), Justin Christman (fifth at 145) and Alex Lorkowski (6th at 171); Tamaqua's Travis Veronsky (fourth at 160) and Dustin Wentz (fifth at 215); and Jim Thorpe's Brian Ohl (fourth at 103) and Tyler Mangold (fifth at 285).
Tamaqua finished sixth with 102 points, Panther Valley seventh with 91 and Jim Thorpe 14th with 46.