WINDBER - The greatest element of spectator appeal at postseason high school wrestling tournaments doesn't necessarily always involve championship gold.
Previously unheralded competitors who come out of the woodwork in late February and March to make lasting names for themselves are those who often become most often indelibly etched in memory.
Everett junior 138-pounder Ejai Rock started on that path in the opening night of the District 5 tournament Friday at Windber Area High School. Rock, who entered the tournament as the seventh seed in his weight class with a 15-11 record, pulled off one of the day's biggest upsets by edging second-seeded Somerset sophomore Mike Laue, 4-3, in overtime during the quarterfinal round.
Rock is one of 26 area wrestlers to earn a place in today's semifinal round, which begins at 10 a.m. Today's semifinal winners, and the rest of the top three finishers in each weight class, will move on to the Southwest AA Regional Tournament next weekend at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.
After pinning Chestnut Ridge's Dustin Bence in 3:49 in Friday's preliminary round, Rock benefited from a penalty point assessed Laue (23-11) to take the 4-3 overtime decision. Official Mike Eichelberger slapped Laue with a second stalling call for the decisive penalty point. Rock will meet sixth-seeded Meyersdale sophomore Seth Deist (22-12) in the semis. Deist advanced by topping third-seeded Blake Miller of Berlin Brothersvalley, 8-2 in the quarters.
On a night when Laue was the only first or second seed to lose, Rock's upset came as no surprise to Everett coach Rob Ripple.
"Ejai earned this,'' Ripple said of Rock, who was one of four Everett wrestlers to advance. "He is the hardest worker in our [wrestling practice] room.''
Chestnut Ridge moved eight wrestlers into the semis, while Bedford - which led the team race by three points over Ridge after one night - advanced seven. Northern Bedford moved on six, including two-time District 5 champion heavyweight Quinton Hixson, while Tussey Mountain has one semifinalist.
Ridge's eight semifinalists are Derrick Claar (106), Trent Crouse (113), Shane Pfaunmiller (126), Bradie Bollman (160), Tyler Dibert (170), Matt Dull (182), Dan Albright (195), and Austin Buttry (285).
"Overall, it was a good effort on our part,'' Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. "I thought our kids wrestled hard. We won the matches we were supposed to win. It was a good day. It wasn't a great day. Our lightweights came out pretty aggressive, and took it to their opponents.''
Bedford's semifinalists are Ryan Easter (113), Garrett Thomas (120), Toby Brett (126), Zach Dudek (138), Cody Yingling (170), Michael Brett (182), and Jacob Krupa (220). The fifth-seeded Dudek, a junior, came up with an inspirational 7-4 win over fourth-seeded freshman Taylor Cahill of Conemaugh Township.
"Dudek has been wrestling real well, and he had a nice upset over the Cayhill boy,'' Bedford coach Brian Creps said. "Overall, our kids wrestled well tonight - even the kids who lost. And that's what you're looking for.''
Hixson had no trouble dispatching of his quarterfinal opponent, Berlin Brothersvalley freshman Kody Martin. Hixson (25-1 this season) needed just 40 seconds to record a fall. Hixson will meet Tussey's lone semifinalist, junior Mitchell Hall, this morning. Hall (23-10) moved on by pinning Hyndman's Dylan Emerick in 1:33.
Other Northern Bedford semifinalists are Cody Guyer (106), Mason Replogle (113), Damian Corle (132), Drew Gartland (138), and Matt Sollenberger (160).
"I thought our kids wrestled well,'' Northern Bedford coach Brian Dutchcot said. "The intensity was there. It's important to get the first round out of the way, and for the younger kids who haven't experienced this environment to get the jitters out. I'm pleased for our six semifinalists, and hoping that they can reach the finals, although there are some tough matches [in the semifinals].''
Along with Rock, Everett's other semifinalists are Chris Eichelberger (145), Isiah Gibbons (170), and Ben Sterling (182).
Hixson is a top seed, as are Northern Bedford's Gartland, Ridge's Claar, Pfaunmiller, Dibert, and Albright, and Bedford's Ryan Easter, Brett and Krupa. All had quarterfinal falls Friday except for Gartland, who scored a 6-0 decision over North Star's Luke Lepley.
TEAM STANDINGS, KEY: 1, BD-Bedford, 60; 2, CR-Chestnut Ridge, 57; 3, NS-North Star, 45; 4, NB-Northern Bedford, 43; 5, CT-Conemaugh Township, 42; 6, SOM-Somerset, 41; 7, MEY-Meyersdale, 39; 8, BB-Berlin Brothersvalley, 34; 9, E-Everett, 25; 10, HY-Hyndman, 20; 11, SH-Shade, 17; 12, TM-Tussey Mountain, 10.
106-Gennett, NS, pinned Hammond, E,, 3:20; Brady McKenzie, MEY, pinned Leabhart, TM, :14; Pakstis, SH, pinned Clites, HY, :44. 113-Park, TM, pinned Bryner, E, 4:36; DeArmitt, BB, pinned Snyder, HY, 4:37. 120-Reynolds, SH, pinned Spahn, E, 3:16. 126-Deffibaugh, NB, tech. fall Robertson, TM, 17-1, 4:52. 132-Etterman, CR, pinned Cogan, E, :26; Grimes, BD, pinned Musselman, HY, :35. 138-Lepley, NS, pinned Kostick, SH, :14; Rock, EV, pinned Bence, CR, 3:49. 145-Connor, NS, pinned Yoder, MEY, 2:40; Winegardner, CR, pinned Crawford, NB, 3:30; Martinm BD, pinned Duvall, TM,, 4:17.,
152-Clark, BD, tech. fall Bonner, EV, 17-2, 5:18; Heffner, BB, pinned Albright, CR,, 4:46; Shipley, NB, dec. Stanton, MEY, 8-2. 160-Clites, HY, pinned Husick, TM, 1:25; Sheeder, E, pinned Jamieson, NS, :59. 170-Griffith, CT, dec. Orner, SH, 8-2. 182-Gowarty, CT, pinned Miller, HY, 2:49; Douglas, NB, dec. Burley, NS, 6-3. 195-No matches. 220-Gindlesperger, CT, pinned pinned Brunner, NB, 3:38. 285-Martin, BB, dec. Easter , BD, 6-3.
106-Claarm CR, pinned Gennett, NS, 3:22; DeArmitt, BB, dec. Warren, BD,, 8-3; McKenzie, MEY, pinned Foster, SOM,, 2:59; Guyer, NB, pinned Pakstis SH, 1:15. 113-R. Easter, BD, pinned Park, TM, :33; Ofsanko, CT, pinned Jano, SOM, 4:29; Replogle, NB, pinned Manges, SH, 4:24; Crouse, CR, pinned DeArmitt, BB, 3:25. 120-Roberts, NS, pinned Reynolds, SH, :43; Day, MEY, pinned Gibbner, HY, 2:47; Thomas, BD, pinned Sanders, CT, 1:28; Miller, BB, tech. fall Hillegass, CR, 16-1, 4:46. 126-Pfaunmiller, CR, pinned Deffibaugh, NB, 2:46; Logsdon, HY, pinned Custer, BB, :38; Hetrick, MEY, pinned Ta. Mostoller, NS, 5:57; Brett, BED, pinned Walker, SOM, 1:33. 132-McKenzie, MEY, tech. fall Etterman, CR, 16-0, 2:39; Tev. Mostoller, NS, pinned Corbin, TM, 4:50; Knotts, CT, pinned Fabian, SOM,, 5:26; Corle, NB, dec. Grimes, BED, 2-0. 138-Gartland, NB, dec. Lepley, NS, 6-0; Dudek, BED, dec. Cahill, CT, 7-4; Deist, MEY, dec. Miller, BB, 8-2; Rock, E, dec. Laue, SOM, 4-3, SV. 145-Ta. Cahillm CT, pinned Connor, NS, 1:22; Lohr, SOM, dec. Gibbner, HY, 7-2; Eichelberger, E, dec. Winegardner, CR, 7-6; Fochtman, BB, pinned Martin, BD, 1:43.
152-Berchick, CT, pinned Clark, BD, 2:27; Revak, NS, dec. Moskey, HY, 7-4; Darr, SOM, dec. Heffner, BB, 6-1; Otten, SH, pinned Shippley, NB, 1:45. 160-Sutton, SOM, pinned Clites, HY, 1:08; Berkley, MEY, dec. Koontz, BD, 7-1; Bollman, CR, pinned Shifflett, CT, :15; Sollenberger, NB, pinned Sheeder E, 1:11. 170-Dibert, CR, pinned Griffith, CT, 3:06; Gibbons, E, dec. Miller, BB, 6-1; Yingling, BD, maj. dec. Yoder, NS, 16-4; Dunbar, MEY, pinned Eller, SOM, 3:41. 182-Brett, BD, pinned Gowarty, CT, :17; Sterling, E, dec. Mayhugh, MEY, 3-1; Dull, CR, dec. Dauphinais, BB, 4-2; Nickelson, SOM, pinned Douglas, NB, 1:03. 195-Albright, CR, pinned Barnhart, E,, 2:50; Benedict, NS, dec. Trulick, BB, 5-4; Drenner, CT, pinned Lenhart, MEY, 1:34; Baer, SOM, dec. Grace, NB, 3-0. 220-Krupa, BD, pinned Gindlesperger,CT, 2:28; Blough, SOM, pinned Claycomb, E, 1:48; Bennett, HY, dec. Fochtman, CR, 3-2 URO; Craig, BB, pinned Supanick, NS, 1:19. 285-Hixson, NB, pinned Martin, BB, :40; Hall, TM, pinned Emerick, HY, 1:33; Buttry, CR, pinned Smith, MEY, 2:42; Hayman, SOM, pinned Mills, CT, 2:53.
106-Gennett pinned Clites, :36; Warren pinned Leabhart, :20; Pakstis pinned Hammond, :53. 113-Snyder dec. Park, 8-4; DeArmitt pinned Bryner, :47. 120-Hillegass tech. fall Spahn, 17-0, 3:33. 126-Walker pinned Robertson, 4:58. 132-Etterman pinned Musselman, 1:52; Grimes pinned Cogan, :39. 138-Lepley pinned Bence, 2:18; Laue pinned Kostick, 3:57. 145-Connor pinned Duvall, 4:59; Gibbner pinned Crawford,, 3:07; Martin pinned Yoder, 2:15.
152-Clark dec. Stanton, 6-2; Moskey maj. dec. Albright, 12-0; Shipley pinned Bonner, 2:06. 160-Jamieson pinned Clites, 3:35; Sheeder pinned Husick, 1:45. 170-Eller dec. Orner, 1-0. 182-Gowarty pinned Burley, 2:17; Douglas dec. Miller, 4-1. 195-No matches. 220-Supanick pinned Brunner, 1:50. 285-Mills dec. Easter, 5-1.