HERSHEY - Altoona 152-pounder D.J. Hollingshead wrestled in the PIAA Championships last year. Philipsburg-Osceola 113-pounder Chris Thompson was at the Giant Center last year watching from a wheelchair in the upper concourse.
They both, however, shared one thing in common on Thursday on the first day of the Class AAA state tournament. They both gave up the initial takedown to their opponents but came back to win and advance to today's 1:30 p.m. quarterfinals.
Thompson, who had knee surgery before the postseason last year, made the most of his first bout at states, rallying to beat Kennard-Dale sophomore Michael Bracey, 6-3. A little later, Hollingshead, who was 0-2 at states last year, shrugged off a first-period takedown by Cedar Cliff's Jake Colello and rolled to a 13-2 major decision.
"I feel like I've got past that first match now," Hollingshead said. "I got all the nerves out in the first one. I just wasn't ready off of the get-go, but as soon as he took me down, I knew I was ready to go."
"This is awesome," Thompson said. "You've to think that this is the last match that you could possibly wrestle, and you've just got to go, go, go. He just sucker-dragged me [for the takedown]."
Altoona 106-pounder Cole Manley is still alive in the consolations. After dropping a 5-0 decision to Exeter Township's Brett Kulp in the preliminaries, it appeared he would be eliminated by Nazareth's Tyson Klump, who held a 7-2 lead in the third period. But Manley cemented Klump to his back and pinned him with 17 seconds left in the bout.
Hollidaysburg 113-pounder Damian Huff and P-O 182-pounder Bub Lumadue weren't as fortunate, getting eliminated after going 0-2.
Bracey scored the initial takedown out of a flurry, but Thompson reversed to tie the score, 2-2. Thompson reversed again in the second to take the lead, and Bracey escaped. In the third, Thompson, from the top position, put Bracey on his back near the edge of the mat, but the wrestlers were ruled out of bounds.
But Thompson, riding hard, was able to put Bracey on his back late in the bout for two points and rode him out for the win. Thompson (30-7) gets Owen J. Roberts' Southeast Regional champ Derek Gulotta (34-5), a 5-0 winner over Ringgold's Doug Gudenburr, in the quarters. Bracey later eliminated Gudenburr with a fall in 4:37.
"I knew it was over when I got those back [points]," Thompson said. "When we got called out of bounds when I had him right on his back, I had him flat, but I just had to keep on going. I'm excited to wrestle again. You've got to make them wrestle your style."
"He was a little tight right off the bat, but he came back and wrestled really well from all the positions," P-O coach Tim McCamley said. "He was really tough on top today. He should have some extra [back points] too, I think, but it worked out okay. Chris is really focused for this. He didn't just come here to come here."
After he was taken down, Hollingshead also reversed to tie the score, 2-2, going into the second period. He added an escape and takedown for a 5-2 lead, bar-armed Colello and tilted him for three nearfall points to take an 8-2 lead.
"I knew it was my match again," Hollingshead said. "I was working my stuff."
"He didn't come out ready to go giving up that first takedown," Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said, "but after that, he settled in, and I think he got a little more of an eye-opener down here. You have to be ready from that first whistle on. Besides, that he looked really tough."
Hollingshead took Colello down to his back in the third period and was really close to getting the pin, but he had to settle for a five-point move and a major decision win.
"I thought it was super close," Hollingshead said of the near pin. "I thought he was flat, but I wasn't sure.
Hollingshead (35-2) wrestles Latrobe's Jake Shaffer (34-10), whom the Mountain Lion beat, 3-1, at the Powerade Tournament early in the season, in the quarters.
"I know I can beat him," Hollingshead said, "but just so I wrestle like I did after the first 15 seconds out there."
Things weren't looking good for Manley, who was taken down twice in the first two periods by Klump and reversed. But after the reversal, Manley got to his feet and cemented Klump to his back. When referee Dick Wood slapped the mat, the Altoona coaches celebrated.
"Don't give up, keep running back to the center and just wrestle," Manley said. "It doesn't matter what the score is. It's not over until it's over."
"Cole Manley really showed a lot of determination out there," Gilbert said. "He kept on wrestling, kept on being physical and, of course, he caught the kid in a tough situation. Cole went for it, and he got it, and that's what you have to do down here at this tournament. Whether you win or whether you lose, you never want to leave this place feeling that you didn't throw everything you could have."
Manley (31-7) gets the quarterfinal loser of Council Rock's South's Riley Palmer (38-7) and Solanco's Connor Sheehan (37-7) in his next bout.
"I've just got to win one more and I'm on the podium," Manley said, "so that's my motivation."
Spring Ford's Ryan Hayes rang up a 19-3 technical fall over Huff (21-9) in 5:21 in the prelims, and Northampton's Michael Scheetz eliminated the two-time state qualifier and two-time District 6 champ with a 5-1 decision.
Lumadue (28-10) was pinned twice - the first time by Mt. Lebanon's Kellan Stout in 1:10 and the second by Nazareth's Southeast Regional champ Nicolino Sevi in 2:33.
"Just making it here is really impressive for Bub," McCamley said. "He's had a great career, and obviously one of the most exciting wrestlers we've had in a long, long time. I was expecting a little more offense, but that's why everybody has earned their spot to get here."
Notes: The second round of consys are at 3:15. Quarterfinal winners won't wrestle again until 9 a.m. Saturday. ... Franklin Regional went 6-for-6 and has the team lead, but the nation's top-ranked 106-pounder, Devin Brown, only beat New Oxford's Zurich Storm, 8-7. ... Three-time champs Bryce Marsteller (170) of Kennard-Dale and Thomas Haines (285) of Solanco had a pin and a decision, respectively.