Bears start slow, finish strong
HERSHEY No matter how much you think you're prepared for the PIAA wrestling championships, there's always jitters for the participants.
That was the case for Pleasant Valley's Sean Bianco and Michael Dahlstrom in their preliminary bouts of the AAA tournament.
Both wrestlers succumbed to early takedowns by their opponents, but both used it as a catalyst to eventual victories Thursday afternoon at the Giant Center.
Bianco (113) looked rusty in the opening period against Derek Gulotta of Owen J. Roberts, as Gulotta maintained a 2-0 lead heading into the second period.
That's where the tides turned for Bianco, as Gulotta chose neutral instead of the top position to give Bianco some extra energy en route to an 8-2 decision.
"That definitely helped me that he chose neutral because I didn't have to spend a lot of energy getting out," said Bianco. "After getting that takedown in the second period, I knew I wasn't going to let it slip away."
With nerves aside, Bianco evened the bout in the second period with a takedown to send the bout tied at 2-2 into the third period.
He earned an escape to go up 3-2, then locked up the victory with a takedown and three backs points to close out the period and his first-ever performance on the Giant Center mats.
"I was definitely nervous going into this match," Bianco said. "I felt awkward out there on the mat and it was weird because I never felt like that before. I think after he scored the first takedown on me it made me snap out of feeling nervous because I knew I had to get it going after that."
Dahlstrom (126) competed in the PIAA tournament last year, but still felt nervous heading into his preliminary match against McDowell's Nick Gibson. The same script followed him like Bianco, as Gibson took a 2-0 lead into the second period after a takedown and then added an escape to lead 3-0.
From that point on, Dahlstrom took command, scoring a takedown in the second, while parlaying that into two back points to grab a 4-3 advantage heading into the third.
He then added an escape, was awarded a stall point and scored a takedown at the buzzer to finish his afternoon strong.
"It's great to win this first one because I can get my weight down and focus on tomorrow," Dahlstrom said. "It's definitely a good feeling knowing that you have to win one to place, rather than being in the consolation round knowing it's all or nothing."
Kenny Yanovich (106) had a rough outing on Thursday, as he was eliminated from competition after getting pinned in both of his bouts.
Yanovich lost his first bout by fall to Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer in 4:46, and then got pinned by Logan Feeser of South Westernin 4:36. Yanovich finishes the season at 41-7.
Bianco (41-2) faces Dalton Macri (40-3) of Cannon-McMillan in Friday's quarterfinals, while Dahlstrom (43-5) takes on Franklin Regional's Josh Maruca (34-5) in the quarters.