SAINT JOSEPH’S Catholic Academy’s Ammon Ohl went 3-1 during the PIAA Wrestling Championships in the Class 2A 138-pound tournament. He earned a third-place medal after falling to Glendale’s eventual three-time state champ Brock McMillen, 9-4, in the semifinals.
Penns Valley senior 172-pounder Malachi DuVall came the closest of the nine Centre County wrestlers to winning a state title at the PIAA Wrestling Championships last weekend at Hershey’s Giant Center.
DuVall, wrestling on an injured left knee, reached the finals, where he dropped a 9-7 heartbreaking loss to Frazier freshman sensation Rune Lawrence. It was DuVall’s third state medal, including a third-place last season
It was the third straight postseason tournament in which Lawrence rallied to beat the Navy commit for the title.
With eight-man weight classes in the Class 2A and Class 3A tournaments, all nine of the Centre County wrestlers had already placed. It was just a matter of positioning themselves on the medals stand.
Bellefonte junior Jude Swisher (132) placed third in the Class 3A tournament for his second medal, while senior teammate Ethan Rossman (189) and State College senior Lance Urbas (172) placed fourth. Red Raider senior Ethan Richner (160) took seventh for his second medal.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy seniors Zack Witmer
(132) and Amonn Ohl placed third in Class 2A. Witmer earned his fourth state medal, while Ohl earned his second. Bald Eagle Area sophomore Coen Bainey (113) finished fourth. Philipsburg-Osceola senior Parker Moore
(215) placed eighth for his second state medal.
Here’s a closer look at the tournaments:
CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIPS
DuVall reached the finals with a 12-2 major decision over Saucon Valley’s Jacob Jones in the quarterfinals and a big 4-2 win over Southern Columbia’s Gavin Garcia in the semifinals.
Garcia was ranked No. 1 by PA Power Wrestling and a returning state third-placer, but DuVall, wrestling with a likely meniscus tear in his knee, took him down with 45 seconds remaining in the bout and rode the rest of the way.
In the finals, DuVall was losing 6-2 in the second period when he hit a headlock from the bottom position, put Lawrence on his back and was very close to getting a pin. The referee, however, stopped the action and called DuVall for an illegal headlock, giving Lawrence a point and tying the bout, 7-7.
With Lawrence riding tough on top in the third, it looked like they’d go into overtime. But when DuVall attempted a roll, Lawrence caught him on his back briefly and scored two nearfall points with 10 seconds left to win it.
“Questionable call on that legality of that (headlock),” DuVall said, “but you win some, you lose some. When it comes down to hit, it’s just a high school sport. I’ve got the Navy coming up. I’ve got a lot more important things.
“As long as I can earn my first million by 25 I’ll be happy.”
DuVall (16-3) seemed to enjoy his battles with Lawrence (30-1) in the postseason.
“Rune’s a great kid,” DuVall said. “I was talking with him right after the match. It’s a fun family. His mom gave me a hug right after the match.
“I feel like both me and Rune stepped up in that match. Each match, I feel like both of us have stepped up and stepped up and stepped up. I’m not very angry about it. I made it to the finals. That was a dream come true.”
DuVall was trying to become the first Penns Valley state champion since Max Dinges claimed gold in 1963.
“Malachi is always going to compete, always going to throw stuff out there and he’s not going to be a wall flower,” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said. “He’s exciting. He’s entertaining. There are two or three calls that could have went the other way and we’re sitting here talking about we have a state title right now.”
Witmer (15-4), a Columbia recruit, defeated Harbor Creek’s Connor Pierce, 4-0, in his third-place bout to finish 3-1 in the tournament. His only loss came when he got pinned by Forest Hills’ eventual twotime state champ Jackson Arrington in 2:43 in the semifinals.
Ohl (15-5) also went 3-1, defeating Faith Christian’s Eric Alderfer, 2-0, in the third-place bout. His only loss came to Glendale’s eventual three-time state champ Brock McMillen, 9-4, in the semifinals.
“I thought they wrestled well,” Wolf-Pack coach Brian Witmer said. “I loved the way they bounced back. That’s a testament to their characters. They had two wrestlers in both their weight classes that by the time they’re both done will have generation-type stats. Most years I think both of my guys are state champs.”
Bainey (24-3) went 2-2 and made it to the semifinals, where he dropped a 10-7 decision to Athens eventual runner-up Gavin Bradley. Bainey lost to Bentworth’s Chris Vargo in overtime, 2-0, in the thirdplace bout.
“Not bad,” Bainey said of his wrestling. “On a scale of one to 10, it’s about a seven. There is always room to improve. I’m looking to come back next year and do even better.”
“I thought he wrestled well overall,” BEA coach Ron Guenot said. “The goal coming in was to be on top of the podium, but he was fourth. You’re bringing in the top eight kids in the state to a tournament. It’s a meat grinder. I’m proud of him. He gave it everything he had.”
Moore went 0-3, but all three losses were decided by one point.
CLASS 3A CHAMPIONSHIPS
Swisher (26-3) went 3-1 with a pin and two decisions in the tournament, including a 5-0 win over Coatesville’s Nathan Lucier in the third-place bout.
His loss came to Seneca Valley’s eventual runner-up Dylan Chappell, 2-1, in the semifinals. Chappell scored a takedown with 55 seconds left out of a flurry and rode Swisher out to win.
“I came here to win,” Swisher said. “That’s been my goal for 365 days plus. It does not feel good to stand on third. I was close. I was one minute away from being on the top of that podium because I have no doubt if I would have made the finals, I would have won.”
“He wrestled great in the whole tournament, minus that one flurry,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said. “I still think he’s the best in the bracket, but it’s an extremely deep, tough weight class the whole way through from districts. Probably this weekend is the best I’ve seen him wrestle.”
Swisher had been looking forward to wrestling Lucier.
“Every kid I wrestled, except for Chappell, beat me before in the past year,” Swisher said. “I had three revenge wins today.”
Urbas (20-6), who will join his brother Cole in wrestling for Penn, went 2-2, with both of his losses coming to Easton’s Dominic Falcone, 7-3 in the quarterfinals and 4-1 in the third-place bout.
“It feels great,” Urbas said. “A lot of hard work went into this. My mindset has changed a lot. It just feels good that it paid off.”
“That’s the best I’ve seen him wrestle,” State College coach Ryan Cummins said. “He definitely timed it right.”
Rossman (24-4), a Lock Haven recruit, went 2-2 with two decisions. After winning his first bout, 7-1, he dropped a 3-2 decision to Hampton’s eventual runner-up Justin Hart in the semifinals.
“It’s probably the best he’s wrestled throughout his career,” Maney said. “I’m looking to watching him continue to grow down the road at Lock Haven. The hard part is, especially with both Ethans, it’s a little emotional. They’re just great kids.
Speaking of growing, Rossman, who was measured at 6-foot-4 his junior year, was probably the tallest wrestler in the tournament.
“Everybody’s been coming up to me and saying ‘Wow, you’ve grown,’” Rossman said.
Richner (22-3) went 1-2, including a 14-6 major decision over Bethlehem Catholic’s Landon Muth in the seventh-place bout.
DISTRICT 6 DUALS BEGIN
State College, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and BEA will wrestle in the District 6 Duals this week as they refocus into team mode. The Duals are being held after the individual states for the first time.
The top four teams in the District 6 individual tournaments automatically qualified for the Duals.
District Class 3A champion State College was scheduled to host the Duals final on Thursday after getting a bye in the semifinals because Mifflin County and Altoona opted out. Bellefonte (13-0 during the regular season) wrestled at Central Mountain on Tuesday in a semifinal.
In Class 2A, Penns Valley hosted Glendale on Tuesday in a semifinal, while BEA traveled to district champion Forest Hills. The championship final is slated for Altoona on Saturday.
The Class 2A District 6 champion faces the District 10 champ in the state quarterfinals on Wednesday. On the same night, the District 6 Class 3A champ faces the District 4/9 champ in the quarters. The semifinals and final finals are being held on March 27 at Cumberland Valley High School.