- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) - The field of 13 overall returning state titlists was reduced to 11 on Friday at the PIAA Wrestling Championships.

Franklin Regional’s Tyler Smith, who won at 132 last year, was upended 3-0 by Chase Zemenak of Nazareth in the Class AAA quarterfinals. Smith had defeated Zemanek 1-0 in the PIAA Team Duals in February.

George Phillippi of Derry Area, the 2013 Class AA champion at 113 pounds, lost 3-1 to Joey Gould of Bethlehem Catholic at 120 pounds.

Nine Class AAA wrestlers still remain in the hunt to defend titles but Smith isn’t one of them. Zemenak (40-4) rode Smith the entire second period and scored a late takedown off a desperation shot by Smith.

“Instead of going to the near ankle, I went far ankle and tight waist and decided to just ride him instead of me getting out and him not getting out,” Zemenak said. “I didn’t want to go play that game. “I said, I’ll just ride him and let him have the pressure in the third period.

“I took the attitude of go hard or go home,” said Zemenak, who was cut loose by Smith in the third period and fended off Smith’s takedown attempts.

“Riding a guy in the quarterfinals at states, at this level, it gets pretty tiring,” Zemenak said. “I’m sure he didn’t want to play that game, that’s my guess. I felt relaxed the whole time on my feet. He’s a tough kid; he scrambles a lot.”

Franklin Regional (36) leads the team race by 12 points over Solanco and by 13 over Latrobe, Nazareth and Parkland. Franklin Regional will have four wrestlers in Saturday morning’s semifinal round, including defending champ Devin Brown at 106 and freshman Spencer Lee at 113. Lee has registered two technical falls thus far.

Chance Marsteller (170) of Kennard-Dale and Thomas Haines (285) of Solanco each won easily to continue their pursuit to become only the 11th and 12th four-time state champions in Pennsylvania history.

A potential Class AAA matchup at 120 pounds would pit defending champions Luke Pletcher (41-0) of Latrobe against two-time champ Ethan Lizak (43-4) of Parkland. Pletcher got past Zach Clingan of Spring Grove 12-2 on Friday.

“I wrestled a good bout,” Pletcher said. “I always try to keep scoring points. I hope we both get the opportunity to wrestle. It should be fun.”

Bethlehem Catholic’s Gould (38-10) in Class AA turned a second-period nearfall into the biggest win in the Class AA tournament thus far. A second-period nearfall netted him the winning margin.

“I had a leg in because I wanted to stay centered on top so he wouldn’t reverse me, and I put the ball and chain (pinning combination) in,” Gould said. “I just brought him back with it. I’m pretty happy.”

Trailing 3-1 in the final period, Phillippi attempted countless attempts at takedown shots but Gould controlled Phillippi’s wrists and remained aggressive to counter.

Two-time champion Jason Nolf of Kittanning at 145 pounds also was aggressive and moved one step closer to his third title with a 16-4 major decision over Zach Vroman of Brookville. Nolf (42-0), a Penn State recruit, had pinned every postseason foe thus far and wasn’t pleased he couldn’t get another.

“He set a goal for himself, he wanted to pin everybody,” Kittanning coach Branden Newell said. “That’s a good way to think, it pushes him to wrestle at a really high level every single match. The ultimate goal is to win the state gold.”

The AA tournament’s third defending champion, Sam Breese of Lakeview, was on the mat for just 10 seconds. He took down Noah Davis of Boiling Springs, locked in a cradle and got the quick fall.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide