MECHANICSBURG — Other notes from Saturday’s District 3 Class 3A Section III Individual Wrestling Championships:
A sectional title is just the start for some wrestlers, Cumberland Valley senior Wyatt Long among them. The 132-pounder is ranked fourth in the state in his weight class, and he looked every bit the PIAA medal contender in pinning Chambersburg’s Cole Grove in Saturday’s title match. After a 2-0 first period Long became a points machine, rolling to an 18-5 lead before he finished things in 5:55.
It was the latest example of how Long and fellow CV seniors Will Kaldes and Cal Reichart, each of them returning state qualifiers, have wrestled hungry all season. They’ve been pushed by the memories of their last visit to Giant Center, when the Eagles took six wrestlers to the state tournament and returned home with zero medals. Long, who also qualified for states in 2015 but did not medal, is determined to not come home empty-handed for a third straight year.
“From the day that I lost to right now, it has motivated me every single day,” Long said. “If the results had been different, maybe I wouldn’t have worked as hard. If had gotten that medal, maybe I wouldn’t have thought that I needed to work that hard.”
Saturday’s title was Long’s third sectional championship — he won at 120 in 2015 and at 132 last season.
Carlisle had an excellent 30-minute stretch Saturday afternoon when Thundering Herd wrestlers went 3-for-3 in do-or-die consolation semifinal matches. The victories by Colton Jumper (138 pounds), Kyle Seibert (145), and Drevan Howard (160) punched tickets to the District 3 Class 3A championships for each of them, ensuring Carlisle would increase its number of district qualifiers over 2016.
“We had good seeds, and we felt that as long as the kids wrestled to their seeds we were going to be okay,” Carlisle coach Joe Wilson said. “They stepped up there. Kyle was a big one. We knew (Joe Vought) from CD East was a good wrestler. He gave up the first takedown, which can be discouraging, but he kept wrestling.”
The Thundering Herd’s other district qualifier was freshman 113-pounder Rafael Portilla, who placed second after advancing to the finals as a second seed. In the title bout he took a 10-0 loss from Cedar Cliff standout JJ Wilson, but the silver medal represented the latest step in Portilla’s growth.
“We’re seeing him grow as a wrestler,” Wilson said. “He didn’t lose a single match in two years in junior high, so we didn’t know how we would handle those losses in high school. He has five of them now, and I think he’s improved after each one. I’m looking forward to seeing how he improves after losing to JJ.”
Back among friends
The Cedar Cliff staff asked a lot of Michael Cassidy during the team postseason, when the sophomore was routinely bumped up to take on some of best wrestlers in District 3 and the state. That trust was justified: Cassidy consistently got the job done, helping the Colts to district silver and a state tournament berth.
Saturday finally represented Cassidy’s chance to drop back down to his natural 120-pound weight class and wrestle free of any dual-meet ramifications. He made the most of it, dashing to his first sectional title via a 6-3 victory over Cumberland Valley’s Cade Reichart, a returning sectional champ.
“When I was wrestling up, everybody was bigger than me and stronger than me,” Cassidy said. “I was just trying to help out the team. It feels good being back at 120 and kind of being the bigger kid again.”
Reichart scored the bout’s first takedown in a fast-paced first period, but Cassidy found his footing as the period wore on. A takedown in the final seconds of the first gave him a 3-2 lead and allowed him to control pace from there, and late takedown off a counter sealed it.
“His first takedown he was going pretty hard, and I just wasn’t ready for it,” Cassiday said. “I just needed to slow him down and work my stuff.”
Northern junior Jake Koser picked up his first sectional title Saturday, with the Polar Bear tallying a 3-1 victory over Big Spring’s Blake Barrick in a matchup of state-ranked wrestlers.
The victory was set up by an early takedown from Koser, who burst from the gate in the first period and got himself a quick 2-0 lead that would stand for the duration. Barrick challenged several times in the second and third periods, but Koser was able to stay away from major trouble. He complimented Northern freshman Kyle Swartz for helping him prep for such situations.
“Kyle is a 182-pounder who has dropped down to 170, and it’s really good to have him around,” Koser said. “It’s a totally different style wrestling 170 and 195. He wrestles quick, and that helps me so much when I get into slower-paced matches at this weight.”
The two will have more time to work in the room: Swartz advanced to the District 3 tournament by claiming a fourth-place finish at 170 pounds, one of six Polar Bears to qualify.