Three make it to finals
Cassidy, McMillen, Bollman will compete for gold medal
HERSHEY — The semifinals of the PIAA Class 2A Championships have been a hurdle that Bedford’s Kaden Cassidy hasn’t been able to clear in two previous appearances. Cassidy cleared that hurdle in convincing fashion on Friday night at Hershey’s Giant Center.
After recording two technical falls to open the tournament, the top-seeded and 37-0 Cassidy pinned Curwensville’s Zach Holland in 1:09 to reach his first state championship final.
“I just went out there and I said ‘Screw it this time. It’s my senior year. I may as well just go for it all,'” Cassidy said. “I said to myself before I went out there ‘I’m not losing this time. I’ve lost twice here wrestling conservative. Now I’m just going to go out there and let it fly.’ It worked for me.”
Cassidy will have area company in the finals as Glendale’s returning state champion Brock McMillen will wrestle in the 132-pound finals and Chestnut Ridge freshman Calan Bollman opens the finals at 106 pounds. Both are the top seeds at their weights.
McMillen, who has dealt with heart problems this season, beat Reynolds’ Kaeden Berger, 8-5, while Bollman defeated Notre Dame Green Pond’s Evan Maag, 9-6.
“I’ve been through a lot this year,” McMillen said, “so I was feeling happiness afterward. I like reaching my goals, and I still have another step tomorrow to get to where I was last year.”
“I feel pretty great,” Bollman said. “Going into this tournament, even though I got first seed, I knew I would have someone hard in the semis. I knew I had the best condition of any other guy in the bracket.”
The championship finals, as well as the third, fifth and seventh-place bouts are set for 2 p.m. today.
Ridge’s Duane Knisely (220), the area’s fourth semifinalist, suffered a controversial 3-1 overtime loss to Wilson Area’s second-seeded Kolby Flank. He rebounded with a 6-1 win over Mount Union’s Jake Ryan in a consolation semifinal bout that ended at 10:45 p.m.
Knisely will wrestle for third place today.
Eleven area wrestlers have earned medals.
Ridge’s Kai Burkett and Tyrone’s Hunter Walk will wrestle for fifth at 113. Philipsburg-Osceola’s Parker Moore (195) will also wrestle for fifth.
P-O’s Chase Chapman (138) and Hunter Weitoish (160), Ridge’s Nathan Holderbaum (120) and Glendale’s Cory Johnston (220) are wrestling for seventh.
Cassidy racked up his second technical fall, 15-0 in 5:16, over Cambridge Springs’ Ayden Miller in the quarterfinals. Cassidy amassed nine nearfall points, including six off of his tilt in the third period.
In the semifinals, Cassidy took Holland down at the 1:21 mark, hooked up a cradle, put Holland on his back and waited for the slap of the mat.
“I don’t pin a lot of kids,” Cassidy said. “If it happens in these good matches, I’m going to pin the kids.”
“He’s been pinning some guys lately, which is nice,” Bedford coach Joel Easter said. “We try to get his win in and get off the mat.’
Cassidy will wrestle Saegertown’s second-seeded Kenny Kiser (43-3) in the finals. Cassidy was asked what he’ll do between Friday night and his finals match.
“I don’t know, maybe go eat some ribs,” he said. “I’m under weight, so I feel good.”
McMillen, who had three straight 3-2 decisions in last year’s tournament, reached the semifinals with his second straight major decision, 11-1, over Hickory’s Carter Gill. McMIllen had three takedowns and five nearfall points.
In the semis, he trailed Berger, 3-1, after the first period as Berger scored a rare takedown of McMillen and received a penalty point for a figure four on the head. McMillen got an interlocking point and escaped in the second to tie the score, 3-3.
After McMillen released Berger in the third, he took Berger down into a low-leg cradle and put him on his back for a five-point move. McMillen gave up an escape but stayed away from danger to win.
“I’ve worked on it a lot,” McMillen said. “I’ve never really hit it in a big match. It felt good to get it there and get a win.”
“That cradle was a move he’s been working on all season-long,” Glendale coach Billy Dubler said. “For him to pull that off in the state semis is just great.”
McMillen (35-3) will tangle with Burrell’s Ian Oswalt (45-6) in a rematch of the Southwest Regional final. McMillen beat Oswalt in overtime, 3-1, two weeks ago.
“I feel good,” McMillen said. “Just go out and wrestle and do what I do best.”
Bollman reached the semifinals with an 11-4 win over Benton’s Ethan Kolb. Kolb rallied to within one, 5-4, in the third, but when he tried a desperation cement mixer, Bollman caught him on his back for a five-point move.
“I was a little scared there,” Bollman said.
Bollman took Maag down in the first, but Maag reversed to tie the score. Bollman rode for 1:15 of the second before Maag, tall and lanky like Bollman, reversed. Bollman scored a reversal to tie the score, 4-4. Maag scored two nearfall points in the third, but Bollman again reversed for a 6-6 tie. Bollman then put Maag on his back for three points and stayed in control.
“Honestly, we went over that last week in practice, just putting them in danger,” Bollman said. “I didn’t think I was going to get back. I thought I was going to pin him.”
“It was an unbelievable match,” Ridge coach Josh Deputy said. “He’s a gamer. He’s wrestled in these moments many times. He did a great job, kept his composure and sealed the deal.”
Bollman raised his arms toward the Chestnut Ridge section in celebration.
Bollman (40-3) will face Montoursville freshman Branden Wentzel (45-7) in the finals.
“I’m going to get some good sleep after weigh-ins, fuel up and be ready to rip,” Bollman said.
Knisely earned a semifinal berth with a 3-0 win over Eisenhower’s Cael Black in the quarterfinals. Knisely scored a first-period takedown, second-period escape and rode the entire third.
Knisely was leading Flank 1-0 when he got penalized for grabbing Flank’s headgear on a takedown attempt with 17 seconds left. Flank was awarded a takedown at the edge of the mat with 17 seconds left in OT.
When Ridge assistant coach Pat Berzonski objected, the referee and the mat judge conferred for a long time, but the takedown was upheld.
“That was tough. We’re going to see how much character he has now,” Deputy said before the third-place bout.
Weitoish stopped Bellwood-Antis’ Alex Taylor, 8-4, in the third round, also called the blood round because a win results in a medal.
Eliminated in the third round, one win shy of a medal, were Huntingdon’s Roland Mills (120), Chestnut Ridge’s Ross Dull (126), Tussey Mountain’s Hunter Horton (126), Northern Bedford’s Colby Imler (170) and Bellwood-Antis’ Evan Pellegrine (285)
Walk eliminated Glendale’s Zeke Dubler, 7-2, in the second round of consolations.
Northern Bedford’s Ian Sherlock (138), Ridge’s Luke Moore (152), Daniel Moore (160), Cambria Heights’ Ian Eckenrode (182), Huntingdon’s Myles Baney (182), Bedford’s Ashton Dull (195) and Tussey Mountain’s Matt Watkins (285) were also ousted in the second round.
Sarbo, Walls eliminated
Altoona’s second-seeded Matt Sarbo suffered another shocking loss, 6-5, to William Tenant’s T.J. England, in the second round of the Class 3A consolations and was eliminated from the tournament with an 0-2 record.
Hollidaysburg’s Campbell Walls was eliminated in the same round by Carlisle’s Colton Zimmerman, 12-4. Both Sarbo and Walls are juniors.
Sarbo (35-4), a three-time Northwest Regional Tournament champion, followed his 9-6 Thursday loss to Waynesburg’s Cole Homet by taking a 5-4 lead over England with 1:03 remaining with a reversal. England reversed with 32 seconds left and rode the rest of the way.
“He just didn’t seem himself,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “He was in a lot of shots and he just couldn’t finish them in this last match. Down here, you’ve got to be on your A game, and we weren’t on our A game this weekend. It’s just the way it is down here sometimes. He’s only a junior, and hopefully he learns from this experience.”
Zimmerman notched five takedowns on Walls (26-10), who went 1-2 in his first Hershey appearance.
“He had a great junior year,” Hollidaysburg coach Christian Harr said. “Toward the end of the year, he was really improving, really firing on all cylinders. He has a lot to build off of, so we can look forward instead of looking backward, learn from this experience and hopefully get a medal next year.”