HERSHEY – Ridgway wrestling may not have come away with any dual victories Friday.
The Elkers still leave with the satisfaction of being among the last 10 teams left in the state tournament this year.
Ridgway finished 0-2 in the second day of the PIAA Team Wrestling Championship, falling in the consolation round 41-18 to Pen Argyl.
Ridgway opened up action in the state quarterfinal with a 39-27 loss to Towanda Friday afternoon.
“I am so proud of them,” Ridgway coach Gary Gerber said. “Like I said, early in the year no one paid much attention to us with the rankings. Even our own district didn’t respect us. These kids have earned their respect, they wrestled their hearts out. They were tough when they had to be tough. They work so hard at practice. These kids want to be good, they’re giving it all they had.”
Ridgway took the lead in the opening bout against Towanda as Chad Quail won an 11-3 major decision against Bristin Robinson of Towanda. Quail had a 5-1 lead at the end of the first period and continued to put on the pressure, leading 9-3 with 1:02 left. Quail scored a takedown with 30 seconds left to earn a major decision and a 4-0 lead for the Elkers.
Jesse Sheasley lost a 5-2 decision in the heavyweight bout to Aaron Schultz, a wrestler coming into the tournament with a 29-3 record. At 2-all in the second period, Schultz took down Sheasley to take a 2-point lead into the third period. Schultz escaped to open the final period to garner the victory.
Kyle Blascak of Towanda (27-8 record prior to tournament) pinned Cody Stahl of Ridgway in 42 seconds at the 103-pound weight class. Terrick Vargason followed for the Black Knights with a 9-1 major decision over Ricky Jay Javier at 112.
Tad Pierce answered for the Elkers with a pin over Ridge Sollick of Towanda in a time of 3:14.
Corey Bush of Ridgway had a tough matchup with Cody Wheeler (35-0), falling in a 9-0 major decision at 125. Bush bumped from his usual wrestling weight of 119. Gerber spoke of the strategy used during the dual with Towanda.
“It’s the only way you can win the dual meet. Down here, if you lose by one or if you lose by 50, it doesn’t better. We have to try whatever works.”
Dakota Dahler came back from an early deficit for a 7-6 decision over Dale Maynard of Towanda in the 130-pound bout. Maynard opened the bout with a takedown in the first minute, Dahler reversed with 26 seconds left in the opening period to square the bout. Maynard escaped with 10 seconds left in the period and reversed Dahler 30 seconds into the second period to make the lead 5-2 for the Towanda wrestler.
Dahler escaped then answered with a takedown to tie the bout at 5-all in the final minute of the third period. An escape from Maynard put the Black Knight grappler up 6-5 but also put him on his feet. That led to a takedown from Dahler with just under 30 seconds left to give Ridgway the win and make the team score 17-13 in favor of Towanda.
Caleb Willey pinned Ridgway’s Zac McKnight at 135 in a time of 1:52. Ridgway began to make a comeback with wins in its next two bouts. Slade Horner added a team bonus point with a 12-2 major decision over Jimmy Sheets at 140. Kyle Caggiano added a major decision of his own with an 11-2 win over Jevin Vanderpool at 145. Ridgway trailed 23-21 entering the 152-pound bout.
Zachary Ripic of Towanda broke the Ridgway run with an 11-1 major decision over Steve Mitchell but Jake Himes came back and pinned Cody Claupein in 2:32 to tie the team score at 27 with two bouts left.
D.J. Skraba wrestled at 171 for Ridgway and had a tough test against Garrett Van De Mark. (30-3 entering tournament) Skraba held strong with the Black Knight wrestler through the first period, trailing 2-1. Skraba got caught in the second period and was pinned in 2:15 to put the Black Knights ahead 33-27.
RJ Forbes (27-8 entering tournament) pinned Seth Stahl of Ridgway at 189 to close out the dual in a time of 4:36.
Towanda won eight of the 14 bouts contested.
“We’re one win short,” Gerber said. “The kids wrestled hard. We had to save points, give extra ones here, save points by not giving up big points. The kids did their job. I was really proud, they gave everything they had in that match. They gave them a run for their money. It was like Bill (Towanda coach Bill Sexton) said ‘You had us scared.’”
Pick up a copy of the Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.