Lions’ Manley entices opponent into loss en route to semifinals

By Todd Irwin

For the Mirror

HERSHEY — Altoona’s Cole Manley was having trouble getting any offense going against Bethlehem Catholic’s Jarred Papcsy in their 132-pound PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal on Friday afternoon at the Giant Center.

So, down 1-0, he tried something different on the strong Papcsy.

Manley gave him his leg to shoot on.

Manley suckered Papcsy into taking the leg in the waning seconds of the second period at the edge of the mat, and the Mountain Lion senior ended up gaining a takedown right before the buzzer sounded for a 2-1 lead.

“It was hard to take him down using my offense, so I trusted in my defense,” Manley said. “I let him get my sweep, and I caught his far ankle. It’s a move I do all the time. I saw the clock, and he was trying to hold on, and I kicked that leg back. I set it up like that, and it worked out.”

It was a key point in a bout that Manley won, 6-3, to advance to today’s 9 a.m. semifinals. He’ll face Hazleton’s Jimmy Hoffman (42-2) in the semis, where he’ll attempt to reach the finals for the second time in his career. If he does that, he’ll try to become the first Altoona state champion since Steve Maurey in 1974.

“I knew he was a good wrestler going into it,” Manley said. “He keeps it close with a lot of good guys. (Northampton’s KJ) Fenstermacher beat him by one or two. He’s one of those wrestlers who stays in good position all the time, and he did a good job. I know it was hard to finish my shots. He was really strong.”

“Manley was in a dogfight down here, and you get those matches down here,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “Everyone is good, but he was able to persevere, get the takedowns when he needed to. He was very strong. It was tough to finish on him.”

Manley is the only area Class 3A wrestling still alive on the third day.

Hollidaysburg’s Nathan Swartz (138) was pinned in overtime (6:45) by Parkland’s Zach Ortman in the quarterfinals, and teammate Hunter Gill (285) was pinned in 40 seconds in the same round.

Swartz was eliminated in his third-round consolation bout by Moon’s Nick Acuna, who pinned the Golden Tiger junior in 1:00. Gill, hampered by a pull of an intercostal cartilage (muscles that run between the ribs), was then pinned in 36 seconds by Blue Mountain’s Erech Noecker in his first consy bout. Both came up one win shy of making the medal round,

“It was a tough day,” Hollidaysburg coach Mike Moore said. “You get down here, and there are just no easy matches. The chips just didn’t fall our way.”

Altoona senior Brinton Simington (170), making his second state tournament appearance, was eliminated in the second round of consolations with a heartbreaking 4-3 ultimate tiebreaker loss to North Allegheny’s Sean Hoover.

After Manley and Papcsy wrestled a scoreless first period, Papcsy escaped for a 1-0 lead. Manley’s takedown off of his defensive strategy at the end of the period drew protests from the BC coaches, but the ruling stood.

“That’s good thinking out there,” Gilbert said. “He understood the situation, and he took the steps to try to get that guy to take a shot on him so he could have an opportunity to score.”

Manley escaped in the third, but Papcsy took him down and nearly caught Manley on his back. He didn’t but the score was tied, 3-3, with 50 seconds left.

“In practice, I put myself in those positions on purpose,” Manley said, “so I’m not flustered when I’m in a real match. So, I was pretty calm, and I did a good job of understanding the situation.”

Papcsy released Manley 5 seconds later to go for a takedown.

Manley was called for stalling for the first time with 21 seconds. With time running out, Papcsy tried a cement mixer, but Manley easily slipped the move and got a takedown with 6 seconds left to win.

“I knew he was going to go for something big,” Manley said, “and I had to be on my toes for it.”

Manley, who earned his third medal with the win, will wrestle Hoffman and try to get back to the finals. He lost to Nazareth’s Tyler Klump on a last second

“Hoffman is a step above the guy we just wrestled,” Gilbert said. “So, we have to be on our A game.”

Swartz was oh so close to joining Manley in the semifinals. In the third period of a scoreless bout, Swartz got a one count for back points from the top position three different times, but he couldn’t the second wave of the referee’s arm.

“He had his cradle hooked up, and he was just at the verge of getting that second swipe and the kid kind of rolled through,” Moore said. “If we had a different official, we could have had a two-count, and he would have won that match. He’s got to learn from it, and tighten things up when he’s down here next year.”

The bout went into overtime, and when the wrestlers got into a flurry, Ortman, the Northeast third-placer, came out on top for a takedown and the pin.

“He was the first one to step forward on the line,” Moore said. “In hindsight, I kind of wish he would have waited a little bit and let that kid come to us in overtime. But he was being aggressive, and he got after it. For a junior, he’s had an awesome year.”

“You work from elementary until now to get to his goal, and then lose in the round to place, that’s just crushing,” Gill said.

Gill (30-7), who injured the intercostal cartilage in his first-round win over Hatboro Horsham’s Nick Chapman, had to get taped up after his first two bouts.

“That’s an uncomfortable injury,” Moore said, “and I think it bothered him in the last couple matches. He just wasn’t the same Hunter Gill that competes on a night-in, night-out basis.”

Simington and Hoover were tied, 2-2, in overtime when Simington re-injured the knee he hurt at the Northwest Regional. Simington, though, continued to wrestle, and the wrestlers traded escapes in the 30-second tiebreakers. Hoover escaped 6 seconds into the ultimate tiebreaker to win.

“He wrestled really well having one knee,” Gilbert said. “He hurt it last week, and he dinged it up again. We’re real proud of his performance for all four years he wrestled for Altoona. He was just shy of a state medal, and there’s no shame in that.”

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