Winning a regional wrestling championship is gravy. But getting to the state tournament is the main entree.
Hollidaysburg senior 160-pounder Damian Lascoli and Altoona sophomore 112-pounder T.J. Brandt were both licking their chops for a Northwest AAA Regional Tournament championship Saturday night. Both settled for second place in the region after dropping their title matches, but both will take plenty of solace in knowing that they can start over again at next weekend's PIAA, Class AAA state tournament.
Brandt lost a 7-6 decision to Brashear junior Godwin Nyama in the regional title bout, while Lascoli was beaten, 6-2 by Bellefonte senior Brad Grieb in the 160-pound championship match.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Hollidaysburg’s Damian Lascoli celebrates his semifinal win at 160 pounds, but he later lost in the final.
Brandt and Lascoli will both be making their second straight trips to the Class AAA state tournament, which takes place this Thursday through Saturday at Hershey's Giant Center.
They'll be joined at states by Philipsburg-Osceola junior Logan Walstrom, who took third place in the regional at 145.
"It would have been nice to come out of here with a championship, but ultimately, it's about advancing to the state tournament and seeing what happens down there,'' Hollidaysburg coach Mike Moore said.
Lascoli (29-9 this season) reached the finals by virtue of a heart-stopping 5-4 decision over District 10 champ Zack Towers of Meadville in Saturday afternoon's semifinal round. Lascoli won the semifinal match on a buzzer-beating takedown.
But he couldn't catch lightning in a bottle twice in the championship match against Grieb, who also defeated Lascoli, 5-3 in the District 6-AAA title bout last weekend.
Grieb scored takedowns in the first and third periods to win his regional final with Lascoli.
"He stayed in good position, and he did a good job,'' Lascoli said.
Lascoli came up with an electrifying takedown move in the semis to upend Towers, one of the pre-tournament favorites in the weight class.
"I lost to him in this regional, 6-3 last year, and it felt really good to come back and beat him,'' Lascoli said of Towers. "Winning that match, and knowing that I had a guaranteed spot at states, felt amazing."
Both Lascoli and Brandt went two-and-out at last year's state tournament at 152 and 103 pounds, respectively. The experience of having participated in last year's state tournament should benefit both next weekend.
"This year, I'm not going to make the same mistakes down there,'' Lascoli said.
Brandt lost in the regional championship bout for the second straight year.
On Saturday night, Brandt built a 4-1 first-period lead against the slick Nyama before the Brashear standout battled back to eventually win the match, 7-6 with a pair of third-period takedowns.
"I wrestled a good period, but I didn't wrestle a good match,'' Brandt said. "He's a good wrestler, and he's tough on his feet. He was just a little better than me today."
Brandt (31-4 this season) advanced to the championship round by scoring a 13-2 major decision over Erie McDowell sophomore Paul Deitz in the semifinals.
The championship match was a different story, however, as Brandt lost some steam after building his first-period lead.
"He quit being offensive, and a lot of times, when you quit being offensive, it opens up opportunities for your opponent,'' Gilbert said. "He had a little conditioning issue there [in the finals], and hopefully, we can straighten that out before the state tournament."
Gilbert expects big things of Brandt - a two-time District 6-AAA champ - next weekend at Hershey.
"I expect him to place in the top eight,'' Gilbert said. "He's capable of doing it, and we're setting the bar high."
Philipsburg-Osceola's Walstrom punched his ticket to Hershey by taking third place in the regional with an 8-3 decision over Punxsutawney junior Nathan McGregor in the 145-pound consolation finals.
Walstrom (29-12) hit a four-point move against McGregor late in the second period to break a 2-2 tie.
"He wrestled a lot closer to the vest than he might otherwise have needed to, because one mistake at that point in the tournament, and somebody can take advantage of you,'' P-O coach Tim McCamley said of Walstrom's effort in the consy final. "He wrestled a smart match, and I'm proud of what he's done, and where he's going."
That's Hershey, to be precise.
Walstrom bounced back from being pinned in Saturday's semifinal round by Erie Cathedral Prep's Tyler Parsons and won his next two bouts, including a 9-4 decision over General McLane's D.J. Myers in the consolation semifinals.
"I'm on cloud nine right now,'' Walstrom said after his state-qualifying finish. "I just tried to stay on the offensive. This is a tough tournament to get through."
Two other area wrestlers, Hollidaysburg freshman Damian Huff (103) and Philipsburg-Osceola junior Kenny Myers (135), made it to the consolation finals but lost there and fell one victory short of a trip to states.
Huff, who won three matches earlier in the wrestlebacks - including two Saturday - dropped a 9-0 major decision to General McLane freshman Joe Wheeling in the consy finals. Huff finished his season with a 26-13 record.
"Damian Huff had an outstanding tournament,'' Moore said. "He finished a strong fourth."
Myers dropped a 4-3 decision to DuBois freshman Tom Sleigh in the consy finals. Myers - who also won three matches in the wrestlebacks, including two on Saturday - took a 3-2 lead on a reversal with 55 seconds left, but Sleigh scored a winning reversal with 15 seconds left in the bout. Myers finished his season at 26-13.
Other area wrestlers eliminated earlier in Saturday's wrestlebacks were Altoona's Mante Barnes (189) and Braeden Luciano (285), Hollidaysburg's Larett Miller (171), and Philipsburg-Osceola's Bryan Descavich (103) and Luke Greenawalt (152).
Central Mountain won the team championship with 103 points, followed by Erie Cathedral Prep (89), Clearfield (89), and Westmont Hilltop (87).
Along with Bellefonte's Grieb (160), other Northwest AAA Regional champions from District 6 included Bellefonte's Tom Traxler (119), Westmont Hilltop's Tanner Hough (130) and Ryan Burnheimer (189), State College's Scott Bosak (140), Central Mountain's Brian Brill (145), Bald Eagle Area's Jacob Taylor (171), and Lewistown's Tyson Searer (215).
KEY, TEAM SCORING: 1, CM-Central Mountain, 103; 2, ECP-Erie Cathedral Prep, 89; 3, CLF-Clearfield, 89; 4, WH-Westmont Hilltop, 87; 5, BEL-Bellefonte, 77; 6, COR-Corry 76; 7, tie, GM-General McLane and PUNX-Punxsutawney, 74; 9, BEA--Bald Eagle Area, 69; 10, DUB-DuBois, 55; 11, EM-Erie McDowell, 52; 12, LEW-Lewistown, 41; 13, SC-State College, 33; 14, BRAD-Bradford 32; 15, HOL-Hollidaysburg, 31; 16, ECT-Erie Central Tech, 31; 17, PO-Philipsburg-Osceola, 29; 18, BRASH-Brashear, 28; 19, ALT-Altoona, 24; 20, MEAD-Meadville, 23; 21, IV-Indian Valley, 22; ESV-Erie Strong Vincent, 17; 23, J-Johnstown, 12; 24, SM-St. Marys, 8; 25, tie, ALL-Allderdice and PER-Perry, 7; 27, FR-Franklin, 4; 28, SCH-Schenley, 3; 29, WAR-Warren, 1; 30, tie, CAR-Carrick and TITUS-Titusville, 0.
103-Gromacki, ECP, maj. dec. T. Giedroc, BEA, 13-4; Peters, CLF, pinned Kauffman, SC, 0:52. 112-Brandt, A, maj. dec. Deitz, EM, 13-2; Nyama, BRASH, maj. dec. Stone, CLF, 12-3. 119-Polacek, WH, dec. Brown, DUB, 3-0; Traxler, BEL, dec. Gillihan, COR, 3-2. 125-Loht, IV, dec. Spearman, EM, 10-8; Young, PUNX, dec. T. Wheeling, GM, 4-3. 130-Hough, WH, pinned Cappella, PUNX, 4:38; Barger, CLF, pinned Grove, IV, 1:58. 135-Spack, PUNX, dec. Matz, EM, 4-2; McBryde, ECP, dec. Sleigh, DUB, 7-2. 140-Bosak, SC, maj. dec. Nolan, EM, 10-1; Schultz, LEW, pinned Struble, CM, 4:53. 145-Brill, CM, pinned McGregor, PUNX, 1:42; Parsons, ECP, pinned Walstrom, PO, 4:57.
152-T. Buckwalter, CM, dec. Harris, ECT, 3-1; Havers, BRAD, tech. fall N. Taylor, BEA, 15-0, 4:48. 160-Grieb, BEL maj. dec. Morris, COR, 11-0; Lascoli, HOL dec. Towers, MEAD, 5-4. 171-J. Taylor, BEA, pinned Chase, ECP, 3:50; Taubert, COR, pinned Morrison, DUB, 3:40. 189-Burnheimer, WH, dec. Keys, ECP, 5-3; Walters, COR, maj. dec. Varner, BEA, 9-1. 215-Searer, LEW, dec. Hill, CLF, 6-2; Bell, ESV, maj. dec. Visokey, PER, 13-2. 285-Duplin, WH, dec. Thompson, MEAD, 2-1; Giuvna, COR, dec. Corl, CM, 3-2.
103-J. Wheeling, GM, pinned Descavich, PO, 4:28; Huff, HOL, ded. Swauger, DUB, 3-2. 112-Bechdel, CM, dec. Lewis, BEL, 2-0; Vizza, DUB, dec. Bowers, PUNX, 4-3. 119-J. Giedroc, BEA, pinned Sauer, BEL, 3:42; Gibson, EM, pinned Laureano, ECT, 2:16. 125-Fisher, BEL, pinned Dietrick, ALL, 0:38; Graham, FR, dec. Harris, J, 11-10. 130-Wortman, BEL, pinned Prino, ALL, 0:28; Miller, CM, dec. Capotis, ECP, 6-2. 135-Myers, PO, dec. VanGuilder, BRAD, 3-0; Gavlock, CM, dec. DiSilvio, ALL, 8-2. 140-Ostrander, BRAD, dec. Thomas, SCH, 3-1; Wasmund, ECP, dec. Bumgartner, GM, 5-4. 145-Granite, BEA, pinned Barirde, WAR, 1:44; Myers, GM, pinned Patton, WH, 2:12.
152-Vollant, EM, dec. Greenawalt, PO, 8-6; Morelli, DUB, tech. fall Shawley, BEL, 19-2, 3:47. 160-Powers, CM, pinned Banks, PER, 1:28; Heynoski, ECP, pinned Kennelly, DUB, 0:59. 171-B. Buckwalter, CM, dec. Miller, HOL, 4-0; Danver, CLF, pinned Granzeier, BRASH, 2:43. 189-Simon, J, pinned Barnes, 4:43; Welton, ECT, pinned Woodson, PUNX, 0:50. 215-Sharkey, BEA, maj. dec. Shovestull WH, 9-0; Bryant, GM, pinned Antonelli, SM, 4:54. 285-Poorman, BEL, dec. Hoy, SM, 4-2; Baker, GM, pinned Luciano, A, 1:24.
103-J. Wheeling dec. T. Giedroc, 2-1; Huff dec. Kauffman, 4-3. 112-Deitz maj. dec. Bechdel, 10-0; Stone dec. Vizza, 9-2. 119-Brown dec. J. Giedroc, 3-1 OT; Gillihan dec. Gibson, 11-4. 125-Spearman dec. Fisher, 2-1; T. Wheeling dec. Graham, 3-1. 130-Cappella dec. Wortman, 5-2; Miller dec. Grove, 5-2. 135-Myers dec. Matz, 4-2; Sleight dec. Gavlock, 4-0. 140-Ostrander dec. Nolan, 3-2; Struble pinned Wasmund, 1:27. 145-McGregor dec. Granite, 6-2; Walstrom dec. Myers, 9-4.
152-Harris dec. Vollant, 3-2; Morelli dec. N. Taylor, 5-1. 160-Morris dec. Powers, 7-4; Towers dec. Heynoski, 3-1 OT. 171-Chase dec. B. Buckwalter, 4-2; Danver dec. Morrison, 2-1. 189-Keys dec. Simon, 9-5; Welton dec. Varner, 9-2. 215-Hill dec. Sharkey, 6-3; Bryant pinned Visokey, :22. 285-Thompson dec. Poorman, 4-0; Baker dec. Corl, 1-0.
(Winners advance to the state tournament)
103-J. Wheeling maj. dec. Huff, 9-0. 112-Stone maj. dec. Deitz, 8-0. 119-Gillihan dec. Brown, 5-0. 125-Spearman dec. T, Wheeling, 4-1. 130-Miller dec. Cappella, 8-2. 135-Sleigh dec. Myers, 4-3. 140-Struble pinned Ostrander, 2:54. 145-Walstrom dec. McGregor, 8-3.
152-Morelli pinned Harris, 3:54. 160-Towers dec. Morris, 8-1. 171-Danver dec. Chase, 3-1. 189-Welton dec. Keys, 9-8. 215-Bryant dec. Hill, 6-5. 285-Baker dec. Thompson, 3-0.
(Winners and losers advance to the state tournament)
103-Peters pinned Gromacki, 3:38. 112-Nyama dec. Brandt, 7-6. 119-Traxler dec. Polacek, 4-3. 125-Young dec. Loht, 11-6. 130-Hough dec . Barger, 7-3. 135-Spack dec. McBryde, 7-2. 140-Bosak dec. Schultz, 3-0. 145-Brill pinned Parsons, 3:04.
152-Havers dec. T. Buckwalter, 6-4. 160-Grieb dec. Lascoli, 6-2. 171-J. Taylor pinned Taubert, 3:42. 189-Burnheimer dec. Walters, 4-2. 215-Searer dec. Bell, 2-1. 285-Giuvna dec. Duplin, 3-1 OT.