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Sarbo first Lion with 4 regional titles

PIAA NW Class 3A wrestling

Altoona Area High School senior Matt Sarbo etched his name into the school’s all-time record book Saturday afternoon, while continuing to set his eye on a loftier goal.

Sarbo became the first wrestler in the 60-year history of the Altoona program to win four Northwest Class 3A Regional championships when he captured the 138-pound title with a 7-2 victory over returning state medalist Chandler Ho of DuBois at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.

Sarbo — who has also won four District 6 Class 3A titles in his illustrious high school career — will join Altoona sophomore Caleb Fasick, a second-place finisher in the regional at 120 pounds — as the only two area wrestlers to qualify for next Saturday’s first-ever Class 3A Super West Regional, which will also be held at the Fieldhouse.

The top four finishers in each weight class at the Super West Class 3A Regional will advance to the PIAA Class 3A state tournament, set for Saturday, March 13 at Hershey’s Giant Center.

A state championship has eluded Sarbo in his first three previous trips to Hershey, and it is a state gold medal on which he has his mind set. He placed seventh as a freshman at 106 in 2018, but finished out of the medal round in both of his last two trips to states.

“Winning a fourth straight regional tournament championship is nice, and I appreciate it, but that’s not my ultimate goal,” Sarbo (38-4 this season) said. “I’ve always been looking toward states, and trying to achieve a gold medal there.”

Sarbo pinned his first two opponents Saturday morning — logging an 88-second fall over Cathedral Prep’s Elijah Hunt in the quarterfinals before clamping Allderdice’s Troy Jackson in 2:25 in the semifinals — leading up to his championship victory over Ho.

Sarbo was never in any jeopardy after building a 4-1 lead with a second-period takedown. He allowed only two escapes while scoring three takedowns.

“He wrestled well, he didn’t make a lot of mistakes, but I just went out and worked for my points takedown after takedown,” Sarbo said.

Entering Saturday’s tournament, Sarbo and 2017 Altoona graduate Cole Manley had been the school’s only wrestlers to win three regional titles. Now Sarbo is in a class by himself.

“He’s the first guy ever at Altoona to win four regional championships, and there aren’t too many at any high school who have done that,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said of Sarbo, who has committed to wrestle on the NCAA Division I level at Lock Haven State University. “It’s a great accomplishment. He looked good the entire tournament — with two pins and a win over a returning state medalist.”

Fasick (12-7 this season) won three of four matches Saturday to earn his trip to the Super Regional with a second-place finish at 120.

Fasick pinned Cathedral Prep’s Ian Irvin in the quarters, before racking up a 7-1 decision over DuBois freshman Davey Aughenbaugh in the semifinals — avenging a regular-season loss by fall to Aughenbaugh.

That put Fasick into the championship match, where he dropped an 8-0 major decision to returning state medalist Lane Aikey, a Bellefonte senior. The loss to Aikey knocked Fasick into the elimination-round true second-place match, which he won, 10-3 over Williamsport freshman Deven Harris.

“I’ve worked very hard to get to this point, my teammates and coaches have helped me out a lot, and I’m really proud of myself and excited for next week,” Fasick said.

Gilbert said that Fasick, like Sarbo, has paid his dues.

“Caleb Fasick works very hard in the offseason, and everything has paid off for him,” Gilbert said.

Altoona senior 285-pounder Trevor Manley finished in third place, just shy of the second-place ticket to the next round.

Manley (20-14) drew a bye into the semifinals, where he lost a 5-1 decision to returning state medalist Oliver Billotte, a Clearfield junior. Manley pinned Brashear junior Hamadi Muhina in 13 seconds in the consolation semifinals, and scored a 3-1 overtime win over General McLane sophomore Wilson Spires in the third-place match.

“I thought all three of our wrestlers wrestled very hard and very well here,” Gilbert said. “Trevor Manley ended up third in his weight class here, which would have qualified him for the state tournament under the previous format.”

Hollidaysburg senior Campbell Walls, a state qualifier last year as a junior, went 1-2 at 160 pounds in this year’s regional, pinning Brashear junior Hussein Mganga in 58 seconds in the quarters, dropping a 7-2 decision to General McLane senior Jackson Spires in the semis, and suffering a 4-2 loss to Cathedral Prep junior Kelyn Blossey in the consolation semifinals that eliminated Walls (27-12 this year) from the tourney.

“The competition is very tough when you get to this level, especially this year, with only two advancing,” Hollidaysburg coach Christian Harr said. “Campbell trained well, left it all out there, competed, and did all the right things, but just fell short.”

Bellefonte won the team championship with 119 points, while Williamsport was second with 114.5. Bellefonte crowned three individual champions in Aikey (120), Jude Swisher (132), and Ethan Richner (160).

Championship Finals

106–Cael Nasdeo, Williamsport, dec. Casey Smith, Juniata, 8-4. 113–Jacob Van Dee, Erie Cathedral Prep, maj. dec. Nic Allison, Mifflin County, 14-2. 120–Lane Aikey, Bellefonte, maj. dec. Caleb Fasick, Altoona, 8-0. 126–Luke Simcox, Central Mountain, maj. dec. Owen Woolcott, State College, 10-2. 132–Jude Swisher, Bellefonte, dec. Pierson Manville, State College, 7-6. 138–Matt Sarbo, Altoona, dec. Chandler Ho, DuBois, 7-2. 145–Riley Bower, Williamsport, dec. Steffan Lynch, Erie Cathedral Prep, 6-2.

152–Paniro Johnson, Erie Cathedral Prep, maj. dec. Roman Morrone, Williamsport, 13-3. 160–Ethan Richner, Bellefonte, won by tech. fall over Jackson Spires, General McLane, 15-0 5:24. 172–Trey Kibe, Mifflin County, dec. Lance Urbas, State College, 7-1. 189–Carson Manville, State College, dec. Ethan Rossman, Bellefonte, 2-1 TB2. 215–John Campbell, Erie Cathedral Prep, dec. Ty Price, State College, 5-1. 285–Nate Schon, Selinsgrove, pinned Oliver Billotte, Clearfield, 0:50.

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