HERSHEY — Considering the amount of competitive mat time he has registered in the past month, it could have been cause for concern when Austin Taylor entered the third period of his semifinal bout in a scoreless tie.
Namely, it was a question of what the Boiling Springs junior had in the tank after he suffered through several injuries that cut into his training and conditioning time this season, the last of them a concussion sustained Jan. 28 that kept him out of the District 3 Class 2A team tournament.
It turned out Taylor had enough gas left to earn his first District 3 Class 2A finals berth. He used a third-period escape and takedown to register a 3-1 win over Upper Dauphin’s Donny Gelnett in their 195-pound semifinal, a breakthrough win after Taylor had fallen in the district semifinals in each of his first two trips to Hershey.
“I’ve been pushing myself all weekend, trying to put in extra work, do a couple extra workouts, run, shadow wrestle,” Taylor said. “I’ve been trying to work hard. I know I had a mediocre season. I’ve just had to keep battling, ice up and get better. I’ve felt 100 times better this week. I’ve just been trying to give it my all.”
The key for Taylor was riding out Gelnett after the UDA sophomore took down to start the second period. That meant the Bubbler only needed an escape at some point in the third period to secure a win, but he did one better — notching a takedown with just over a minute remaining to give him a working margin. It sets up a title bout against state contender Noah Fleshman of Bermudian Springs.
“I’m just going to wrestle my match,” Taylor said. “I’m just going to go out and have fun. You just need to go out there and do your thing.”
The other local finalist in Class 2A is Boiling Springs sophomore Kollin Myers, who blasted through his two matches Friday with falls in less than three minutes. He’ll match up with Bermudian’s Austin Clabaugh in the 126-pound final in a battle of two of the state’s best.
First final for Kaldes
Cumberland Valley senior Will Kaldes entered the District 3 Class 3A Wrestling Championships as one of the tournament’s most decorated wrestlers, a three-time state qualifier who had finished fourth or higher in each of his three trips.
Friday night Kaldes filled in a gap in that resume when he picked up a 6-2 victory over East Pennsboro’s Matt Danner in the semifinals at 152 pounds. The win earned Kaldes his first trip to the district finals, as well as his fourth state tournament berth. He’ll face familiar foe Brayden Wills of Mechanicsburg in Saturday’s title bout.
“I’m just going to take it as the same old match,” Kaldes said. “I’m going to have to wrestle no different. If I say I’m in a championship, I’m just going to put more pressure on myself. I just want to get to what I’m going to do, and just wrestle.”
Kaldes’ big-match experience was on display Friday against the taller Danner, who had been wrestling at higher weights for much of the year. Kaldes used a third-period reversal and late takedown — which came after he cut Danner loose — to secure the win.
“On my feet is my best position,” Kaldes said. “I wasn’t gassing at all. I did a great warm-up, and I’m not cutting weight anymore. I was just trying to keep taking him down.”
Wild minute for Wilson
The prohibitive favorites in the Class 3A 113-pound bracket were Cedar Cliff sophomore J.J. Wilson and Spring Grove junior Dalton Rohrbaugh, two state contenders who collided last year in a semifinal bout that was won by Rohrbaugh.
The rematch seemed a fait accompli for much of the tournament, save for one brief period Friday evening. That came when Wilson found himself on the receiving end of a four-point move from Cocalico’s Kayde Althouse in the opening seconds of their semifinal bout — something that didn’t necessarily faze Wilson.
“Once I got off my back, I was just like alright, he’s high so I can get some points out of this,” Wilson said. “I turn him and it’s going to be 5-4, me. I just try to look for positives in every situation. I do that in life as well as on the mat.”
Wilson not only got points, he got the win — he reversed and picked up Althouse in one fell swoop, finishing the bout after an action-packed 52 seconds and setting up that championship meeting with Rohrbaugh.
“This year is really the same as last year, honestly,” Wilson said. “We’re just meeting in a different round. It’s kind of been planned out that we’re bound to meet again in a big match. I think we could be bound to meet again next year, too.”