HERSHEY - The preliminaries for the PIAA Class AA Championships were winding down and it was kind of quiet in the Giant Center.
But then Northern Bedford's polite, unassuming Joel Suter woke everybody up.
The 215-pounder's bear hug of Union City's Greg Reinke drew a collective ooooooooh from the crowd and scored Suter four points.
"He can throw people. He's a powerful kid," NBC coach Jan Clark said. "His conditioning is the only factor."
"I got the underhooks and I hit the bear hug," Suter said. "[The crowd reaction] was pretty neat."
Suter went on to win, 8-2, to become the last of the seven area wrestlers who advanced to this morning's quarterfinals, which begin at 8.
Claysburg-Kimmel's James Dodson (119) and Ty Dively (125), Penn Cambria's Evan Link (112), Central Cambria's Ben Rager (125), Tyrone's Ronnie Garbinsky (135) and Portage's David Kephart (189) will join Suter in the quarters. Win there and they're in the semifinals, which are set for 6:30 tonight.
Suter will face off Lackwanna Trail's returning state champ Eric Laytos in the quarters. Laytos (43-1) pinned Bethlehem Catholic's Josh Alpha in 4:28.
"I haven't looked ahead, but he'll be all right," Clark said. "He's hungry this year."
Ten other area wrestlers are still alive in the consolations, and all five C-K kids are still going and trying to pull off what they did at the Southwest Regional Tournament - continue winning, not get eliminated and earn a medal. Josh Brown (103), Cole Claar (130) and Corey Aungst (145) breezed to wins in their first-round consolation bouts after preliminary losses.
Brown pinned Sharon's Cody Buchanan after getting pinned by Bethlehem Catholic's Darian Cruz. Claar beat Bethlehem Catholic's Richard Cruz, 5-1, after losing, 10-3, to Schuylkill Valley's 2009 state champ Arty Walsh. Aungst rang up a 15-1 win over Sharon's Xavier Ross after getting tech-falled by Wyomissing's 2009 state champ Nick Hodgkins. C-K is tied with Fort LeBoeuf for fifth place in the team standings.
"It's not exactly how we wanted it to happen," C-K coach Dave Marko said. "James and Ty wrestled real controlled matches against obviously good kids. The other three guys ran into some hammers in the first round. We had some pretty tough draws there, but we fought hard in those matches. It was great to see all of them come back and wrestle the kind of matches we want them wrestling in that first wrestleback match."
Bedford's Ryan Easter (103) and Brian Gibbons (171), Penn Cambria's Justin Miller (140) and, postseason Cinderella Tom Hanlon (152), Central Cambria's Tony Risaliti (152) and Shane Morris (285) and Northern Bedford's Quinton Hixson (285) all won their first-round consolation bouts.
Link (40-1), who opened with an 11-1 win over Annville-Cleona's Tony Yohe, will have to travel a difficult road today if he's to get to the finals.
He has a quarterfinal bout with Bermudian Springs' returning 103-pound runner-up Brad Farley (39-2), a 15-1 winner over Union City's Shane Rankin in the prelims. If he wins, he'll likely get Line Mountain's returning 103-pound champ Zain Retherford in the semis. If he's worried, Link certainly didn't show it.
"I really don't know the kid that well," Link said. "It doesn't matter now [that he's a state runner-up]. I just have go out there and beat him up. I guess he's good on top, but I have to beat him on my feet. I can't be intimidated now. I have three more matches, hopefully. You've got to beat the best to be the best."
"He asked me 'Who do I have next?' " PC coach Todd Niebauer said. "I like that because it's not a mental battle with him. He just wants to go about his business, and hopefully that's going to benefit us tomorrow and later on."
The question surrounding Garbinsky this week was whether he'd finally get past the semis, but he found himself in a tight opener against Allentown Central Catholic's Damien Hopper. His first three years, Hopper wrestled in Oklahoma, where he was a state champ as a freshman, placed third as a sophomore and didn't make weight at a regional tournament last year before moving.
Garbinsky beat him, 7-5, but it was 3-3 entering the third period, where he escaped and took Hopper down. Hopper reversed a short time later to come back within one, but Garbinsky escaped and avoided a late takedown attempt to win.
"I wrestled him in Fargo [at nationals] in the quarterfinals and this summer," Garbinsky said. "I knew he was going to be tough. I wrestled smart and did what I needed to do to win."
Garbinsky (36-1) gets Reynolds' Adam Matthews (40-6), who pinned Juniata's Brandon Rowles in 3:08 in the quarters. Garbinsky's regional semifinal opponent, Jeannette's Michael DePalma, lost to Brandywine Heights' Peter Renda, 9-7.
Dodson earned a 4-2 decision over Troy's Braden Calkins, getting a first-period takedown and reversal with 18 seconds left in the second. Dodson rode Calkins for all but 3 seconds of the final period to earn a quarterfinal berth against Bethlehem Catholic's Randy Cruz (40-5), a 7-3 winner over Keystone Oaks' Nick Zanetta.
"That was a match where we could have attacked a little more on our feet," Marko said, "but James is so tough on top, I wasn't interested in cutting the guy and taking away James pinning ability from the top."
Dively built a 6-0 lead on Greenville's Nate Dias, hitting a four-point move in the first period, before getting a fall in 3:17. Dively (42-3) was to wrestle Northern Lehigh's Zane Heller (29-5), a 2-1 winner over South Side Beaver's Shane Gentry, in the quarters.
"Ty is dangerous," Marko said. "Ty can score from a lot of different positions, from a lot of different angles. That kid made a mistake, and Ty made him pay."
In the same bracket, Rager eked out a 2-1 win over Johnsonburg's Jesse Wolfe. Rager, who scored his only points on a first-period takedown, will take on Towanda's once-beaten Cody Wheeler, a technical fall winner over Saucon Valley's Paul Sloand.
"First match jitters in a new arena, and it's the first year I've been here," Rager said. "I feel a lot better now, and I'm pretty conifdent about tomorrow. That should be a real good match. I'm looking forward to it. I'm pretty underweight, so I get to eat. That will be nice."
"I'm real happy," CC coach Bob Nikolishen said. "I know he's not real comfortable with the way that he performed, but when you finish 2-1, especially at the state tournament, that gives you reason to be pretty happy."
If both Dively and Rager win, they'll meet in the semifinals.
Kephart (34-2) took a 2-0 lead over Bloomsburg's Remington Weigle into the third period, and the Mustang senior gave up an escape to make it 2-1. Weigle shot in, but Kephart pancaked him to his back and pinned him in 5:10. In the quarers, Kephart will face Saucon Valley's Ian Gimbar (38-2) , who pinned Jefferson-Morgan's Joe Phillips in 3:28,
Risaliti appeared headed toward the quarters as he led Seneca's Joe Hibbler, 8-6, but he was taken down to his back and pinned with 18 seconds remaining. He came back with a 5-2 win over Bermudian Springs' Tristan Sponsellar.
"The seat dropped out from underneath all of us," Nikolishen said. "Tony definitely looked good getting to the semifinals, but I'm not upset. We're going to back him up win or lose."
Easter and Gibbons moved on with decisions in the consolations, but Gibbons is battling back tightness and needed some ice afterward.
"He hurt it at the regional tournament," Bedford coach Brian Creps said. "It's still spastic, but he's got to suck it up and get through the pain at this point."
Huntingdon's Kie Brown (119), PC's Nick Szala (130), Chestnut Ridge's Tyler Dibert (160) and NBC's Dan Sollenberger (189) went 0-2 and were eliminated from the tournament.
"No, we didn't expect to be out this early," Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. "We knew Tyler isn't quite in the elite of the weight class, but we were hoping to get out of here with a medal."