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Six leave Hershey with medals

The area's three medalists in the 113-pound class at the 2014-15 state tournament are (from left): UDA's Coy Campbell, fourth; Line Mountain's Cameron Newman, third; and Williams Valley's Willy Girard. (Sentinel photo by Lon Zeiders.

The Sentinel’s coverage area is sporting a little more hardware after last weekend’s PIAA wrestling championships. 

Six wrestlers from four different local school districts brought home medals from one of the nation’s toughest tournaments.

Line Mountain’s Cameron Newman was the highest local place winner, outlasting Upper Dauphin Area’s Coy Campbell in the third-place bout to earn a bronze medal in the 113-pound weight class. 

Newman and Campbell were joined on the podium by Williams Valley’s Willy Girard, who finished in seventh place in the same bracket (see sidebar for more information on the strong local showing at 113).

Tri-Valley led all local schools with three state medalists – Hunter Harner earned a seventh-place medal at 160, while teammates Caleb Bordner (120) and Dan Scheib (220) earned eighth-place medals.

Cameron Newman. As the top finisher in the northeast region, Newman received a first-round bye to open the tournament before dropping Girard 5-1 in the round of 16. 

He followed his victory over Girard with a 3-1 overtime decision over Brockway junior Ryan Carlson to setup a semifinal match-up with southeast regional champion Joe Lobeck from Lancaster Catholic.  Lobeck entered the tournament ranked first in the state, but Newman was unfazed, again taking the bout to overtime, but this time the Line Mountain senior was on the wrong end of the final score – dropping the decision 4-1 after Lobeck put him on his back in the final frame.

“I was right there,” said Newman.  “He [Lobeck] is a good wrestler and he was the one to catch the right move at the right time.”

The loss to Lobeck put Newman in the consolation semifinals, where he squared off with Saucon Valley’s Jack Hill.  Newman turned Hill for the fall in 2:30 to advance to the third-place match where he squared off with Campbell, ultimately besting the Trojan 5-0 to leave Hershey for the fourth and final time with a third-place medal.

“I came here to win gold, but once I lost, I wanted to finish as high as possible and I did,” said Newman.  “I’m not wrestling in college, so that third-place match was the last wrestling match of my life.  I just went out there to have fun.’’

Coy Campbell. Campbell’s trip to the consolation finals followed a similar path as Newman, though the Trojan senior was a bit more dominant in his victories.

“Coy [Campbell] had a great tournament,” stated UDA Head Coach Todd Rupp.  “He peaked at the right time, and he’s got a state medal in his final year to show for it.”

Campbell opened the tournament with an opening round bye before doubling up Lewisburg junior Brian Friery 8-4 in the round of 16. 

After his win over Friery, Campbell put on an offensive display versus Jamestown’s Faris Messai, winning 12-5 to earn a berth in the championship semifinals opposite eventual state champion Max Murin of Central Cambria.  Murin beat Campbell 8-1, but the Trojan wrestler bounced back in the consolation semis with an 8-2 victory over Brockway’s Carlson to set up his final bout with Newman.

“Of course I would have liked to win a gold medal, but I’m happy with how the tournament went,” said Campbell.  “It’s great to earn a state medal in my final season.  I really couldn’t ask for a better ending to my wrestling career.”

Willy Girard. Girard had an impressive tournament as well. The Viking junior opened with a 9-0 major decision over Ellwood City’s Tyler Alberts before losing to Newman in the round of 16. Girard bounced back with three straight victories in the consolation bracket to ensure himself a top-eight finish. 

The three-bout win streak started with two consecutive pins before a dramatic, last-second 8-6 decision over Jamestown’s Messai in the elimination bout that secured Girard his medal.

“I was on my back and losing with 13 seconds remaining in the bout, and that’s never good,” commented Girard on his victory over Messai. “I knew I had to do something if I wanted a medal, so I dug deep, and I ended up getting a reversal and two back points.”

The smile on Girard’s face as he told the story of his last-second heroics is all one needs to see to know how ecstatic he was to win that bout, but for those who didn’t see it, words can’t describe the moment. 

The referee literally swiped the two count, the minimum required to earn two back points, as the final second ticked off the clock.  If Girard waited just a half a second longer to start his final push, he wouldn’t have gotten the back points, and the bout would have gone to overtime, at best.

Girard dropped his next bout versus Saucon Valley’s Hill 3-1, putting him in the seventh-place match against Penn Cambria’s Nolan Link. Girard and Link wrestled to a 0-0 tie through two periods, but the Viking opened things up in the third. 

Starting in the bottom position, Girard reversed Link and followed it up with two near-fall points before giving up a late escape to end his season with a 4-1 decision and seventh-place state medal.

“I worked really hard all season long, so it feels good to leave this tournament with a medal around my neck,” said Girard. “I have one more year left. I want to get back here and do even better next year.”

Caleb Bordner. Tri-Valley’s 120-pound senior kick started the Bulldogs’ run to three PIAA medals by becoming a four-time medalist – a lofty accomplishment not held by many local wrestlers. 

Bordner opened the tournament with a bye before being upset in the round of 16 by Jefferson Morgan senior Brendan Howard, a wrestler Bordner beat 6-3 at the Thomas Subaru wrestling tournament in Bedford in January.

The gutsy senior, who recently broke the school record for most wins, fought back with two straight victories in the consolation bracket – a third-period fall and 9-5 decision – before dropping a 3-1 overtime decision to eventual fifth-place finisher Andrew Wert from Trinity.

The loss to Wert put Bordner in the seventh-place bout, where he squared off with Howard for the second time in the tournament.  Howard once again got the best of Bordner, this time securing a 3-2 decision that gave the Tri-Valley senior his second eighth-place medal in four years.

A visibly distraught Bordner fought back tears after stepping down from the podium with his medal.

“This is not how I wanted my high school career to end,” said Bordner. “I didn’t come here to take eighth place. I know it’s an achievement to win four state medals, but I’m still not very happy with it.”

Hunter Harner. Bordner’s teammate and fellow senior, Hunter Harner, also wrestled for seventh place.  Like Bordner, the 160-pound Harner opened with a bye before dropping a two-point decision in the round of 16.  After losing to Blairsville’s Drew Doak, the eventual fourth-place finisher, Harner bounced back with wins over Bermudian Springs’ Noah Fleshman and Wyalusing’s Justin Haley before dropping a 5-4 decision to Huntington’s Jon Wagner.

The loss to Wagner put Harner in the seventh-place bout opposite Westmont-Hilltop freshman Anthony Walters. Harner attacked Walters quickly, gaining a two-point takedown off the opening whistle and riding him out for a 2-0 lead after one period.

Walters reversed Harner in the second to make it 2-2 after two periods, setting up an all-or-nothing final period between the two wrestlers. Harner started down, but Walters let him up, giving the Bulldog a 3-2 lead.  Walters took Harner down to take a 4-3 lead, but the Bulldog worked into a scramble and ultimately got a reversal, and 5-4 victory, for his efforts. 

The victory gave Harner a seventh place finish, one-upping his eighth-place finish two years ago in the 138-pound bracket.

“I knew I had to move and make something happen,” said Harner about his late reversal that secured the victory. “Winning two state medals is a great accomplishment. I’m really glad I finished my last year with a win. I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Both Harner and Bordner expressed gratitude for the four years they spent representing the Bulldog wrestling team.  During the past four years, both wrestlers were part of a group that led a resurgence in the Tri-Valley program.

“The teammates and coaches I’ve worked with over the past four years are great,” said Harner. “We learned a lot from some of the best wrestlers this school has seen – Sam Scheib, Ty Schoffstall, and Evan Heffron. It’s been fun working with the young guys and passing the torch to them, just like the older guys passed it to us.’’

“This year’s senior class did a lot of great things, but this program is in good hands. There’s a lot of talent and dedication throughout the program,” said Bordner.

Dan Scheib. Some of that talent Bordner spoke about was on display in the 220-pound bracket. Scheib, a freshman, opened the tournament with a bye before securing an 8-5 decision over Port Allegany’s Ethan Budd in the round of 16.  Scheib then got pinned in the first period of his quarterfinal bout with eventual champion and undefeated Reynold Maines from West Branch.

The loss put Scheib in must-win consolation bout to secure a medal. Scheib delivered, earning a 12-3 major decision over Tom Sever. 

After getting pinned by eventual fifth-place finisher Dylan Otis from Wyalusing, Scheib dropped a 6-4 decision to Reynolds’ Cole Rickert in the seventh-place bout. Scheib led the bout 4-1 after the second period, but Rickert reversed the Bulldog and earned three near fall points to beat Scheib.  The loss gave the talented freshman an eighth-place finish in his first trip to Hershey.

“Being down on the floor with all of these fans can be a bit intimidating, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Scheib. “I’m happy to get a medal in my first year, but I’m going to keep working to improve. I want more.’’

Another talented Tri-Valley youngster who will help keep the program on the winning track is sophomore Sammy Hepler. Hepler, who won a seventh-place medal at 106 last season, fell one victory short of medaling this year.

“Sammy’s a big-time talent, and he trains real hard,” said Bordner.  “Between him, and Scheib and some other young guys, this program is in good shape.”

Besides Hepler, other local wrestlers who competed in the PIAA championships but did not medal were:  Tri-Valley’s Chase Schaeffer (145) and Anthony Snyder (152); Line Mountain’s Blake Carl (132) and Garrett Kieffer (285); and Williams Valley’s Matthew Miller (160).

Hepler and Kieffer are only sophomores, so both have two more years to improve their state standing. Combined with Scheib and Girard, and other yet-to-be-determined future stars, the future looks bright for wrestling in the Sentinel’s coverage area.

Three local wrestlers earn
medals in 113-pound bracket

I wonder if anyone warned Hershey that a group of local wrestlers from the Sentinel’s coverage area was going to crash the 113-pound bracket at the state championships. 

Three wrestlers medaled in the weight class – Line Mountain’s Cameron Newman, UDA’s Coy Campbell, and Williams Valley’s Willy Girard – accounting for almost 40 percent of the medals handed out in 113 on the Saturday podium.

Two of the wrestlers – Newman and Campbell – are quite familiar with one another, having wrestled each other nine times in competition, and many more in practices and exhibition matches, since seventh grade.

“I’m good friends with Coy [Campbell], so it was a little weird to be wrestling him for third place in the state tournament,” said Newman afterwards.

Both wrestlers are 100-plus match winners for their careers.

Newman holds an advantage in post-season accolades, having qualified for states all four years and medaling twice, but Campbell’s no slouch. The Trojan senior recently surpassed UDA’s only state champion – actually, two-time state champion – Jeff Eure, in career wins.

If third and fourth-place finishers Newman and Campbell were the local headliners, Girard was no less than a fitting opening act. The Williams Valley junior is a two-time state qualifier, and with his seventh-place medal this year, a one-time place winner.

He also owns a victory over Campbell this year, besting the Trojan in a late-season dual meet in Elizabethville.

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