Brandt winds up in sixth; Rosenberry eighth
HERSHEY – Austin Rosenberry walked by the top step on the medals podium for the medals ceremony, pointed to it, pointed to himself in gesture and looked across the wrestler’s entrance to the Giant Center late Saturday night to where his Altoona teammates were hanging over the railing yelling his name.
Included in that group was 138-pound fellow senior T.J. Brandt, whose last few bouts in his storied career didn’t go his way, but he and the 285-pound Rosenberry helped set a standard that future Mountain Lions will try to match.
In the end, Brandt, who reached the semifinals, finished sixth, going 0-3 on Saturday, while Rosenberry went 0-2 and finished eighth. Still, it was the first time two Altoona wrestlers placed in the state tournament since 1982, when two-time placer Ernie Bonsell and Mark Gensimore placed sixth at 155 and 119, respectively.
Brandt dropped a 5-0 decision to Central Dauphin’s Tyson Dippery in the semifinals to get knocked into the consolations. Wrestling Council Rock North’s John Dutrow, Brandt held a 2-1 lead in the after a takedown out of a flurry, but Dutrow reversed with 40 seconds left and rode him out for a 3-2 win.
Against Franklin Regional’s Josh Maruca, who beat him earlier in the season, Brandt was down 5-1 when he hit a cement mixer, taking Maruca down to his back and nearly getting a pin. Maruca fought off of his back and reversed to re-take the lead, 7-6.
“I’m not sure. I’m not the official,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said of a possible pin, “but it looked like the kid could very well have both shoulders down for a few seconds. I’m happy he went out there and tried stuff. You can’t look back at those situations and try to do them over again.”
Brandt (31-6), who hadn’t placed in three previous state tournaments, tried the move again in the third, but Maruca caught him on is back for five points and an eventual 12-7 win.
“He placed in the Pennsylvania state tournament, which is the toughest wrestling state in the country,” Gilbert said. “A few things didn’t go his way today, but overall, he wrestled tough down here. He went for it, and sometimes when you go for it, you get caught in a precarious situation and give up some points, and that’s what happened.”
Rosenberry (28-8) was tied, 1-1, in the third period of a third-round consy bout with Methacton’s Tracey Green when he tried a headlock that Green slipped through and got a takedown in an eventual 3-1 win.
In his seventh-place bout, Rosenberry was tied, 1-1, with Shippensburg’s Cary Hess – coached by former Tyrone coach Tony Yaniello and 1999 Hollidaysburg state champion Eric Frick – when Rosenberry was hit with a late stall call – his second – to give Hess a point and a 2-1 win.
“We got hit with a stall call with about 35 seconds left, and it was just one of those calls,” Gilbert said. “It’s on the official. He must have felt we weren’t pushing the action enough. That’s awfully tough to get a stall call in the placing round to lose the match, but it is what it is.
“I’m so happy for this young man. He worked really hard in the wrestling room and the weight room, and to place in the top eight after four years of wrestling is just phenomenal. His goal was to get on the podium this year, and he made it.”