Perfect ... Dawg medals ... D-11 report
bob ford/times news Northern Lehigh's Colin Hedash (left) and Grove City's Wes Phipps battle during their 171-pound semifinal match at the PIAA State Championships on Friday.
It's time to clean out the notebook after another action-packed weekend at the PIAA State Wrestling Championships at Hershey's Giant Center.
PERFECT - Senior 215 pounder Garth Lakitsky not only gave Tamaqua its first State wrestling champion, he did so by finishing with an undefeated record of 42-0.
While entering the State Meet with an unbeaten record isn't a guarantee of a trip to the top of the awards stand, it doesn't always hurt one's chances. At least it didn't this year, as 11 grapplers claimed gold medals while finishing unblemished.
In Class AA, joining Lakitsky in the unbeaten club were Kittanning's Jason Nolf (44-0) at 103; Reynolds' Mason Beckman (49-0) at 125; Wyomissing's Nick Hodgkins (47-0) at 145; and Lewisburg's Nathaniel Brown (38-0) at 171.
In Class AAA, champions with perfect records were Franklin Regional's Nico Megaludis (51-0) at 125; Nazareth's Zach Horan (49-0) at 130; Central Mountain's Brian Brill (44-0) at 145; Kennard-Dale's Chance Marsteller (42-0) at 152; Plymouth-Whitemarsh's J.M. Staudenmayer (42-0) at 171; and Susquehanna Township's Averee Robinson (43-0) at 285.
Prior to Lakitsky, the last TIMES NEWS area State champ to finish undefeated was Northern Lehigh's Cory DeBias, who was 39-0 when he captured PIAA gold back in 1998.
DAWGS' MEDAL COUNT GROWS - While senior 171 pounder Colin Hedash's State run was cut short due to injuries sustained in Friday night's semifinal and consolation rounds, it didn't prevent him from entering a select club.
Hedash's sixth place medal was his third piece of PIAA hardware, adding to his fourth place in 2009 and a fifth place in 2010. That makes Hedash the fifth Bulldog wrestler with three State medals, joining Larry Rehrig, Steve Hluschak, Jared Herzog and Ryan Hluschak. Adam Hluschak is the Dawgs' lone four-time State medalist.
Hedash made the State semifinals twice, in 2009 and this year, and that underscores how difficult it can be to advance to the finals to get a shot at the gold.
"At this level, everything has to go right for you," said No. Lehigh coach Todd Herzog.
When Hedash and junior 125 Zane Heller (who placed eighth) brought back medals from Hershey, that raised No. Lehigh's State medal total to 60, tops in THE TIMES NEWS area. Northwestern is next with 35 State medalists.
On the TN area State champion list, No. Lehigh (including Slatington) and Northwestern are tied with eight champs, with Palmerton and Tamaqua each have one.
DISTRICT 11 SCORECARD - District 11 sent a total of 62 wrestlers to Hershey, with 35 qualifiers in Class AA and 27 in Class AAA. Of that group, D-11 matmen brought home 34 medals, 18 by AA grapplers and 16 by AAA contenders.
Bringing back State gold medals were Pen Argyl's Mikey Racciato (135) and Tamaqua's Lakitsky in AA and Blue Mountain's Corey Keener (118), Nazareth's Horan (130), Easton's Mitchell Minotti (140) and Parkland's Michael Ottinger (160) in AAA. Horan was a three-time State runner-up before ascending to the top this season.
Speaking of runners-up, Bethlehem Catholic's Randy Cruz gained a silver medal for the second year in a row, this time falling to Derry Area's Jimmy Gulibon, who won two straight AAA crowns before dropping down to AA this season. Parkland's Ethan Lizack was the runner-up at 103 pounds.
Bronze medalists were Becahi's Darian Cruz (103), Wilson's Michael Fleck (119) and Saucon Valley's Ian Gimbar (189) in AA and Liberty's Devon Litito (125) in AAA.
Placing fourth were Central Catholic's Darien Hopper (135), Becahi's Elliot Riddick (160) and Saucon Valley's Ray O'Donnell (171) in AA and Liberty's Anthony Cabrera (112) in AAA.
Fifth place finishers were Becahi's Zeke Moisey (112), Pen Argyl's Dylan Evans (189) and Williams Valley's Ben Ancheff (285) in AA and Easton's Joseph Rizzolino (135) in AAA.
Sixth place medals went to Saucon Valley's Bryan Israel (103), Becahi's Jaydon Rice (125) and Ryan Todora (140) and No. Lehigh's Hedash in AA and Blue Mountain's Brandon Choate (130) and Nazareth's Ryan Krecker (160) in AAA.
Seventh place medalists included Liberty's Brett Marino (103) and Parkland's Mike Fake (125) in AAA.
Placing eighth were No. Lehigh's Heller (125) and Pen Argyl's Luciano Burriesci (140) in AA and Stroudsburg's Eric Howey (135), Parkland's Justin Heller (145) and Tarek Haddad (215) and Northampton's John Lambert (152).
CHAMPIONS DEFEND - Entering States as a defending champion puts a target on those wrestlers, but that didn't stop eight returning kingpins from walking away with another crown.
In AAA, Franklin Regional's Megaludis won his third PIAA title, and Central Dauphin 189 pounder Kenny Courts grabbed his second.
There were more repeaters in AA, with two (North Star's Nick Roberts at 112 and Wyomissing's Hodgkins at 140) returning to the top after winning PIAA titles in 2009. Also reaping another gold medal were Reynolds' Beckman, Commodore Perry's Stephen Ceremuga at 189 and Richland's John Rizzo at 285.
Then there's Derry Area's Gulibon, who now has two AAA golds and one in AA.
Five champions from a year ago were knocked off in defense of their titles. In AA, returning champs who fell were Line Mountain's Zain Retherford at 112, South Fayette's Nick Carr at 152, Charleroi's Cody Wiercioch at 160 and Lackawanna Trail's Eric Laytos at 215, while Canon-McMillan's Conner Schram lost out at 112 in AAA.
Winning the State title as a freshman doesn't assure one of future State gold, but keep an eye on these three frosh champs from this year in the future: Kittanning's Nolf in AA and Kennard-Dale's Marsteller and Solanco 215 pounder Thomas Haines (50-4) in AAA.