CLARION – Ridgway wrestling will send eight competitors to the Northwest Regional Championships next weekend along with a district champion after the District 9 Individual Championships held at Tippin Gym at Clarion University Saturday.
Ridgway finished with eight regional qualifiers and a 4-0 record in the third-place matches. The Elkers finished with a championship and three runner-up finishes.
"That was much higher than we expected," Ridgway coach Gary Gerber said. "The kids wrestled phenomenal. One champ, three seconds and four thirds. I'm really pleased. The kids wrestled extremely well this weekend."
Bush wrestled a solid match against Karl Lightner of Smethport in the championship, finishing with a 7-0 decision. Bush opened up against Jack Glasl of Brockway and had a dominating 26-8 (4:32) technical fall in the semifinals to advance to the district championship match.
"His match against a really talented kid was almost flawless," Gerber said. "He executed the plan that we had and did it extremely well. He's one of the most talented kids I've ever coached."
Slade Horner finished second at 145 pounds and faced Evan DeLong of Kane in the district final. It was a tight match with both wrestlers not allowing a takedown in regulation. Each wrestler earned an escape while they were in the bottom position but in overtime, DeLong was able to secure the winning takedown near the end of sudden victory to capture the district title in a 3-1 overtime decision.
Horner opened with Brodie Zacherl of Brookville in the 145-pound weight class. Neither wrestler could get any points. Horner escaped with a minute left in the second period for the first points of the match and then added a takedown moments later for a 3-0 lead. Horner added two more points for a 5-0 advantage and went on to the 7-0 decision to advance to the district final.
Kyle Caggiano was the runner-up at 160 pounds, losing 2-1 in the district final to Brett Smith of Brookville. Caggiano opened with Mike Swartwood of Kane in the semifinals. Caggiano opened with a takedown with 36 seconds left in the first period for a 2-0 lead en route to a 6-0 decision over the Kane wrestler to advance to the final.
At 170 pounds, Jake Himes lost 2-1 in the district final to Alex Gular of Port Allegany. Himes opened up with Zach Bruce of Cranberry in the semifinals and advanced to the final with a 4-2 decision. Gerber said the three championship losses can be proved moot quickly.
"I told the kids, this is just qualifying," Gerber said. "If you beat them next week and make it to Hershey, that's better than this one. We're going to see if we can come back on some of those."
Tad Pierce opened up against Dalton Zimmerman of Brookville in the semifinals and lost 17-2 in a time of 4:36 to drop to the fourth round of consolations. Pierce wrestled a back-and-forth match and took a 9-6 lead into the third period after hitting a 5-point move at the end of the second period with a combination of a takedown and two back points. Pierce completed the pin in 3:29 to advance to the third-place match. In the third-place match, Pierce took on Jon Gelsick of Kane. Pierce rallied with three back points in the final seconds for a 12-10 victory to take third place.
Zac McKnight wrestled Jake Keller of Curwensville in the 132-pound semifinals, he was pinned in two minutes even to drop to the fourth round of consolations. McKnight faced off with Zimmerman in the fourth round of consolations with a birth to regionals on the line. McKnight started with a takedown around the 30-second mark of the first period to take a 2-0 lead, he would maintain that lead through the end of the first period. He added a set of three back points midway through the second period to push the lead to five, finishing the pin in 2:45 to advance to regionals. McKnight took on Jimmy Miller of Brookville in the third-place match. There was no scoring in the first period. It was 2-2 after two periods but a late takedown would give McKnight third with a 4-2 win.
Steve Mitchell opened up against Ty Haines of Redbank Valley. Neither wrestler could score in the first period. Haines was able to garner an escape early in the second period for a 1-0 lead. Mitchell was able to score the takedown halfway through the second period for a 2-1 lead. Haines was able to escape shortly after to tie the bout at 2-all. Haines then hit a takedown and pinned the Elker wrestler in 5:03. Mitchell faced off with Jacob Abrams from Smethport in the fourth round of consolations. Abrams secured a takedown seconds before the end of the first period. Mitchell evened the bout with a takedown near the 25-second mark of the second period, then secured three back points before a late escape made the score 5-3. He added another escape and a takedown to push the margin to 8-3 which would be the final score. Mitchell won third place with a pin in 2:27.
Pierce, McKnight and Mitchell are first-time regional qualifiers.
"For them to make it, that's tremendous," Gerber said. "We'll have a good week of practice this week and see if we can make some damage at Sharon and get to Hershey."
Chad Quail opened against Zach Brinkley of Brockway in the semifinals and was pinned in 1:21. Quail led 2-0 at the end of the first period in his fourth round consolations match against Cal Haines of Redbank Valley. He went on to secure the pin in 4:19. At 1-1 in the third-place bout, Quail hit a 5-point move to finish third with a 6-1 decision.
At 152, Dakota Dahler opened in the third round of consolations against Dakota Royer of Curwensville and advanced to the fourth round with a pin in 4:18. Dahler then wrestled Sam Kysor of Port Allegany in the fourth round of consolations. Dahler fell behind 2-0 early but was able to escape in the second period to cut the margin in half. Kysor took down Dahler shortly after to push the lead to 4-1. Kysor went on to the 6-1 victory.
Cody Stahl opened up at 113 pounds against Trenton James of Oswayo Valley. Stahl led 6-2 at the end of the first period after a series of takedowns and voluntary escapes before pinning James in a time of 1:27 to advance to the fourth round. Stahl opened up his fourth round consolation match against Ricky Prosen of Sheffield. Stahl trailed 4-0 after the first period and was down 6-0 with 1:17 left. Stahl rallied to move within three at 6-3 with 1:44 left in the third before Prosen added another pair of points. Prosen went on to the 12-4 win.
At 195, Cortland Smith of Ridgway opened up against Andrew Bigley of Clarion. After a scoreless first period, Bigley escaped in the second period for a 1-0 lead, Bigley took that lead into the third period. Smith returned the favor in the third period to even the bout at 1-all. Bigley took down Smith at around the 40-second mark to push ahead by a 3-1 score which would be the final tally.
Chris Woods of Ridgway opened up in the semis against Josh Kibbie of Kane, getting pinned in 2:22. He wrestled Ben Carillo of Redbank Valley in the fourth round of consolations. After a scoreless first period, Carillo got an escape in the second period for a 1-0 lead. Woods was in the down position in the third period and was pinned in 4:27.
Alex Zimmerman of Johnsonburg opened in the third round of consolations against Joe Crate of Cranberry and advanced with a 6-0 decision.
Caleb Garvey of Johnsonburg lost 12-2 to Jacob Abrams of Smethport in the third round of consolations.
Michael Kennedy of Johnsonburg opened up in the third round of consolations against Anthony Benson of Brockway and was pinned in 1:14.
The Northwest Regional Championships are at Sharon High School this Friday and Saturday. Action starts at 5:15 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.