Area matmen deliver in finals
bob ford/times news Northern Lehigh's Colin Hedash tries to turn Saucon Valley's Ray O'Donnell in the 171-pound championship bout.
BETHLEHEM - Zane Heller displayed a flair for the dramatic.
Bobby Clymer scrambled his way to an upset.
Colin Hedash joined his brothers atop the awards stand.
Garth Lakitsky showed another opponent the lights.
TIMES NEWS area wrestlers went 4-for-4 in the finals of the District 11 Class AA championships Saturday night at Liberty High School's Memorial Gym, with Northern Lehigh's Heller and Hedash, Northwestern's Clymer and Tamaqua's Lakitsky capturing the gold medals.
That quartet is part of a TN area contingent of 12 grapplers who qualified for the PIAA Southeast Class AA Regional with Districts 1 and 3 next weekend at Wilson West Lawn High School. The top four placewinners at each weight class advanced to Regionals.
No. Lehigh had five Regional quaifiers, with Lucas Dise (third at 112), Ty Herzog (third at 145) and Nikko Stevens (fourth at 135) joining Heller and Hedash.
Sending two wrestlers apiece to Regionals are Lehighton (Anthony Farole, third at 140 and Mitch Moyer, fourth at 152), Northwestern (with Michael Ortiz, fourth at 130, joining Clymer) and Palmerton (Josh Evans, third at 112 and Kane Kralik, fourth at 215).
State Class AA Duals champion Bethlehem Catholic sent seven wrestlers to the finals and crowned five champions (Damian Cruz at 103, Zeke Moisey at 112, Randy Cruz at 119, Ryan Todora at 140 and Elliot Riddick at 160) to win the team title with 240 points, beating out Colonial League champion Pen Argyl, which had 227.5.
Heller and Clymer prevented the Golden Hawks from sweeping all seven of their finals bouts.
Heller (25-5), a junior and the only defending D-11 champion from the TN area, was seeded third and fell behind top-seeded Becahi senior Jaydon Rice (31-9), who came out on the attack and jumped out to a 7-1 lead into the second period.
Rice tried for a throw and another takedown, but Heller was able to hang on and twist Rice to the mat to get a takedown of his own to cut it to 7-3. He sank a headlock on Rice for three back points to cut it to 7-6 heading into the third period.
"I wrestled him (Rice) last year (a 2-1 Heller OT win at Districts) and he changed his style," said Heller. "He was more of a counterer. This year he came out more aggressive and was on the offensive.
"Getting that first takedown definitely gave me confidence. I looked up and it was 7-3, so I sat out and was able to suck him back (for the nearfall points). After that, everything fell into place."
Heller opened the third period on the bottom, escaped with 1:21 left to tie the score, then dragged Rice to the mat by the waist with 19 seconds to go to take the lead for good at 9-7 before cutting Rice loose to set the final at 9-8.
"I wrapped up his waist," explained Heller. "I was pretty tired, so it was take him down or go into overtime.
"My dad (former No. Lehigh standout Ron Heller) was a two-time District champ, so my goal now is to do it three times," he added.
"That was an outstanding match by Zane," said No. Lehigh coach Todd Herzog. "I don't know how many kids would have panicked under the pressure of losing 7-1, but he kept his composure and kept chipping away."
Clymer climbs to top
Northwestern senior Clymer (28-4) was seeded sixth and had the daunting task of facing top seeded Golden Hawk Kyle Dehaut (25-9), a State silver medalist last year.
Clymer stunned Dehaut with a five-point move from a first period scramble for a 5-0 lead. Dehaut chose neutral for the second period, and Clymer did it again, sticking on top as the two wrestlers hit the mat. He earned the fall at the 3:03 mark.
"It was a scramble each time," said Clymer, who was voted the AA Outstanding Wrestler for the victory. "I knew it was going to come to that, and I ended up on top each time.
"We were off for a couple of weeks before Districts, but I knew he was going to be the guy to beat. Coach (Jim Moll) helped me with what he was going to be doing."
"Bobby had a very good feel for wrestling," said Tigers coach Moll. "We told him that if he wouldn't let you get your single legs, create a scramble and see what happens. It's one thing to get to that point, and it's another thing to finish."
Clymer joins brothers Scott (a three time D-11 champions) and Ben (a two-time winner), both former Tiger State champs, as a District gold medalist.
Hedash gets gold
The Hedash clan also has District gold in the family, with Casey Hedash taking the 215 title in 2008 and Craemer placing first at 145 in 2009.
Top seeded 171 pounder Colin Hedash (27-2), now a senior, had been runner-up the past two seasons, and he reached the top of the podium with a 5-2 decision over third seeded Ray O'Donnell (32-5) of Saucon Valley.
After a scoreless first period where Hedash flipped out of a single leg attempt, O'Donnell took a 1-0 lead with an escape at the second period buzzer.
Hedash controlled the third period, escaping for a 1-1 tie, then taking down O'Donnell with 1:15 left. Hedash worked for a cradle and released O'Donnell with 41 seconds to go leading 3-2. Hedash spun around O'Donnell's last gasp takedown try for a takedown of his own with seven seconds left to clinch it.
"It's nice to get this win under my belt," said Hedash. "He "O'Donnelll) wrestled real smart and took some openings. That was intelligent on his part.
"These next two weekends are big for me. I am looking to peak at States," added Colin, who placed fourth at Hershey as a sophomore and fifth last year.
Lakitsky pins again
Tamaqua senior Lakitsky continues to plow through the opposition at 215. The two-time District runner-up earned his first D-11 gold by packing away three opponents in 5:21, winning the AA Pinner Award.
Top seeded and unbeaten at 35-0, Lakitsky picked up his 30th pin of the season, tying Andy Breiner's school record, by decking North Schuylkill's second seeded Scott Yagielniskie in 1:03.
"It feels great, a lot better than second," said Lakitsky.
Yagielniskie, who was pinned by Lakitsky in 14 seconds in their previous meeting, surprised Lakitsky and almost rolled him to his back, but Lakitsky countered, regrouped and took down Yagielniskie before locking up another devastating cradle.
"He tried to roll me, and I wasn't expecting it," said Lakitsky. Of his pins, he added, "It just comes natural, what I'm doing. I just go with whatever is there."
Six TN area wrestlers just missed a berth at Regionals with fifth place finishes. They included Lehighton's Mike Balliet, Northern Lehigh's Connor Hedash, Northwestern's Levi Veppert, Palmerton's Sam Oberlander, Panther Valley's Nick O'Donnell and Tamaqua's Kolby Mashack.