Kiski Area gets KO’d at PIAA wrestling but remains in hunt for 3rd place
HERSHEY — A couple of hours after his team was beaten by Bethlehem Catholic in the PIAA Class AAA team championships Friday, Kiski Area coach Chris Heater was walking off the Giant Center floor and spotted Jeff Karam.
Heater wished Karam and his Bethlehem Catholic team luck in the semifinals against North Allegheny.
Karam thanked Heater and told him what he thought of his team.
“Your team is very classy,” Karam said. “We could wrestle you 10 times, and it might be 5-5.
“I was impressed how they wrestled, and they were gentlemen going through the line. Believe me, there have been some cruel things said to us after matches.”
Heater thanked Karam, and as Heater walked away, he said, “I still would have rather won the match, but that compliment will help.”
Bethlehem Catholic, the defending state champion, handed Kiski its first loss of the season, 38-18, in the quarterfinals.
Things got out of hand late when Bethlehem Catholic recorded three consecutive wins, including a pin and an injury default, to break open what had been a 23-18 score.
Kiski Area (21-1) bounced back in Round 2 of consolations to deck Owen J. Roberts of Pottstown, 56-13. The Cavaliers face rival Canon-McMillan at 9 a.m. Saturday in Round 3 of consolations.
“I thought we recovered well,” Heater said. “We came here with aspirations to be state champions, but that went away in the (Bethlehem Catholic) match, and we were able to overcome our first loss of the season. I felt we wrestled well.”
Things started well for Kiski Area against Bethlehem Catholic when Vinny Romano opened with a pin at 170 pounds.
And after Brad Nagy avoided a pin at 182, Danny Starr was looking to give Kiski Area a 9-5 lead. But Bethlehem Catholic’s Jody Crouse got a reversal to tie the score with eight seconds left in regulation and then secured a winning takedown 13 seconds into overtime to put his team in control.
“Vinny did a great job,” Heater said. “We felt he had the hot hand, and we wanted him to get us started and he did.
“We felt we should have won at 195 and had a shot at 132. We lost two close matches. We were also hoping for bonus points at 106 and 138, and they wrestled us tough. That was the difference. We weren’t able to get bonus points.”
Tommy Starr (220), Darren Miller (106), Noah Levett (126) and Joey Blumer (138) won decisions for the Cavaliers.
Against Owen J. Roberts, the Cavaliers recorded six pins — three in the first period — as well as two technical falls and a major decision. The pins were by Romano (182), Tom Starr (220), Isaac Reid (285), Darren Miller (106), Jack Blumer (132) and Joey Blumer (145).
They also got a 4-2 win by Nick Delp (152) over Dan Mancini, who was ranked No. 10 in the state.
“We need to keep moving forward,” Heater said. “We work really hard with our wrestlers and talk to them about being good sports. We’re trying to make good, solid young men.”
Bethlehem Catholic advanced to the finals by defeating North Allegheny, 50-23. The Tigers reached the semifinals by defeating Exeter Township, 36-26.
North Allegheny rallied behind pins from Jacob Downing (113), Jake Hinkson (145) and Eric Hong (160).
Canon-McMillan won both of its consolation matches, defeating DuBois, 46-14, and Exeter Township, 42-21.
Burrell didn’t have the PIAA Class AA tournament it wanted.
The Bucs, who lost to Line Mountain in the opening round, rebounded to defeated Bishop McDevitt (D12), 58-11, before falling to Southern Columbia, 34-21, on Friday.
Burrell coach Josh Shields said he was proud of how far his team came since December.
“The kids started to believe in the process,” Shields said. “They’ve come a long way. I know they’ll carry that momentum into the individual tournaments. This experience will help them.”
Burrell overpowered Bishop McDevitt by getting pins from Bryan Gaul (113), Trent Bechtold (120), Dillan Jeffrey (126), Daniel McCarthy (138), Corey Christie (145) and Anthony Marra (182).
But Southern Columbia proved to a tougher matchup.
The Bucs couldn’t get any momentum and lost three close matches, two in overtime.
“When it comes down to it, we lost two one-point matches and another close one,” Shields said. “That was the difference. It’s a different match if we get them.
“We needed to win the swing matches and didn’t. Southern Columbia is a very good team, and we got off to a bad start. At this level you have to wrestle your best. We needed to wrestle a perfect match to beat them.”
Burrell (13-7) got pins from Trent Valochik (106) and Dillan Jeffrey (126), plus decision wins by Ethan Awes (132), Corey Christie (152) and Anthony Marra (182), who defeated talented freshman Gaige Garcia, 2-1, in overtime.
Freedom saw its season end with a 36-33 loss to Saegertown in Round 1 of consolations.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.