- Associated Press - Saturday, March 12, 2016

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) - Brian Courtney of Athens didn’t just stand atop the medal winners’ podium at the PIAA Wrestling Championships on Saturday afternoon at Giant Center.

He stood atop history as well.

Courtney, a junior, won the PIAA Class AA 126-pound championship in unprecedented fashion: he defeated three returning PIAA wrestling champions to earn his first state gold medal.

There has never been a weight class with three previous PIAA champions in the bracket in the 79-year history of the PIAA Wrestling Championships, let alone a wrestler who defeated all three.

In the finals, Courtney defeated Max Murin of Central Cambria 3-2, holding off a strong takedown attempt by Murin in the final minute of the match. Murin was last year’s Class AA 113-pound championship.

“It felt good, especially on the podium,” said Courtney, who was serenaded with lengthy applause from an appreciative crowd.

Earlier in the tournament, Courtney scored an 8-3 decision over defending 126-pound champion Jonathan Gabriel of Bedford. That victory moved Courtney into the 126-pound semifinals where he defeated Reynolds sophomore Cole Matthews, last year’s champion at 120, by a 9-3 score.

Courtney was third at 106 pounds as a freshman and runner-up at 120 last year to Matthews, which provided the requisite motivation for his Herculean feat, which earned him the Class AA Outstanding Wrestler award.

“I saw all three guys were at 126 and I was hoping they wouldn’t move (out of the weight class),” Courtney said. “It didn’t feel good last year losing my last match.”

Five Class AA wrestlers claimed their second state championships. Gavin Teasdale of Jefferson-Morgan at 113, George Phillippi of Derry Area at 138, Mike Carr of South Fayette at 145 and Jake Wentzel and Greg Bulsak, both of South Park, at 160 and 182, respectively, all won titles in 2015.

Three wrestlers won their school’s first PIAA wrestling championships: Kevan Gentile of Jim Thorpe at 106, Cole Nye of Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt at 220 and Jake Beistel of Southmoreland at 285.

Other Class AA champions were Charles Lenox of Fort LeBoeuf at 120, Tate Ortz of Brookville at 132, Damon Greenwald of Burrell at 152, Jacob Oliver of Huntingdon at 170 and Gavin Hoffman of Montoursville at 195.

Brookville won the Class AA team championship with 72.5 points, just two points ahead of Huntingdon.score.


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