Three shine on first day
By Todd Irwin
For the Mirror
HERSHEY – Altoona’s Cole Manley debuted this season in January by moving up to 138 to wrestle Hollidaysburg’s Nathan Swartz after rehabbing his surgically-repaired shoulder.
On the opening day of the PIAA Class 3A Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, both of the Blair County stars had dominating wins.
Manley opened his quest for a third state medal and first gold medal on Thursday by rolling to a 13-0 major decision over Downingtown West’s Nick Lilley at 132. A little bit later, at 138, Swartz pinned Garden Spot’s Gary Clark in 1:11.
They’ll be joined in the quarterfinals by Hollidaysburg 285-pounder Hunter Gill, who earned a 5-4 decision over Hatboro Horsham’s Nick Chapman.
“It was a good night,” Hollidaysburg coach Mike Moore said. “Swartz starts it off with a fall, which settles things down a little bit for him. Hunter had a pretty good battle in his first-round match.”
The quarterfinals are set for 2:15 p.m. A win there for the trio and they’re assured of a medal and off until 9 a.m. Saturday. A loss will drop them into the 5 p.m. third round of consolations.
Altoona’s Brinton Simington (170) is still alive in the consolations after going 1-1. He dropped his pigtail bout to Liberty’s Gunner Anglovich, 7-5, when he was pancaked late in the bout for a takedown. He came back with a 3-2 win over Dallas’ Xavier Barber.
Altoona senior Hunter Hileman (120) and junior Parker McClellan (195) were eliminated with two losses. Hileman lost, 7-4, to W.C. Henderson’s Jacob Reid and 5-4 to St. Marys’ Tyler Dilley. McClellan lost to Owen J. Roberts’ Nick Duliakas, 10-0, and to Bethlehem Catholic’s Jody Crouse, 6-2.
“We were in all of the matches,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “I don’t know of any match we weren’t in down here. We have to go back to the drawing board with some of our underclassmen like Parker McClellan. I think it was an eye opener for Parker, and I’m sure he’ll learn from this and come back next year.”
Manley got the opening takedown in the first period and tilted Lilley for three nearfall points. In the second, he escaped, took Lilley down and tilted him again for three nearfall points to make it 11-0. Lilley briefly shook his head in frustration.
Manley added a takedown in the third, and he rode Lilley the remaining 1:23 of the bout.
“I think I wrestled real good,” Manley said. “I’ve been taking guys down and letting them up lately, but I just tried to work on my ride in this match. I ended up turning him. I thought I wrestled really solid, and I have to keep it rolling into the quarters with that match being over.
“Down here, being able to ride wins big matches. I was giving myself more of a feel of riding on top. I didn’t want to cut this kid unless I absolutely had to. I felt really sharp out there and ready to go.”
“Boy, he looked really good out there,” Gilbert said. “He scored a lot of points from the top position, had tons of tilts, and he looked good on his takedowns too. For the most part, he dominated.”
Manley (22-0) wrestles Bethlehem Catholic’s Jarred Papcsy (34-12) in the quarterfinals.
“I’m really excited for it,” Manley said. “It’s another stop on the road to getting the gold I want.”
Swartz got the opening takedown of Clark, put the Southcentral runner-up on his back with a low-leg cradle and got the fall.
“They got into a scramble situation, and Nathan is pretty good in those situations,” Moore said. “He has a feel of where to turn, where he needs to go.”
Swartz (32-5) will face Parkland’s Zach Ortman (30-7), who won twice on Thursday, including an 8-3 win over Southwest Regional champion and second-seeded Luke Kemerer.
“I feel good about him,” Moore said. “Kemerer was the second seed, and I felt good about Nathan with him as well. He’s set up well to go in there tomorrow, compete and get himself into the semis.”
Gill, making his second state tournament appearance, gave up the opening takedown to Chapman, but he escaped, and he escaped again in the second to tie the score, 2-2. An attacking Gill forced Chapman to flee the mat, which he was penalized for, giving a point to Gill.
Gill kept attacking and took him down for a 5-2 lead. Chapman escaped, and then Gill released him to start the third. Gill fought off a late Chapman shot, but Gill was hurting a little bit afterward, seeking medical attention for side pain.
“He does (push the pace). That’s his MO,” Moore said. “He’s going to be in your face, and it’s probably going to be a 3-1, 3-2 match.”
Gill (30-5) will face Canon-McMillan’s Brendan Furman (44-3) in the quarterfinals.
“He’s wrestled Furman before out at Flo Nationals,” Moore said, “so we’ve gotten a look at him. He lost to him by fall. It was 0-0 after the first period, and he got into a bad position with him. He’ll compete with Furman, and he certainly has it in him to win and get into the semifinals as well.”