Defenders fall short to Fort LeBoeuf in Class 2A first round

Feb. 8—HERSHEY — According to Warrior Run coach Jeremy Betz, if both teams fail to score 30 points in a dual meet, then it's a tough match.

That's exactly what transpired on Thursday afternoon at the Giant Center. Unfortunately for the Defenders, it came up on the short end of the battle for the first time in a dual this season with a 25-23 loss to Fort LeBoeuf in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A Team championships.

After losing on Thursday, Warrior Run (21-1) moves to the consolation bracket where it will take on Berks Catholic today at 9 a.m. Thursday's bout was a rematch of last year's first-round matchup where the Bison came away with a 33-24 win.

"We knew it was gonna be a close match coming in — we wrestled them last year," Betz said. "They have a lot of guys back; we have a lot of guys back. Our guys battled hard in positions. It just didn't happen today.

"We had a lot of quality matches out there, as did they. We struggled to find bonus points in a dual meet with two teams with quality kids. It's not many times that you go to a high school match and see nobody in the 30s. So when you see that, you know that you have two quality teams where kids let it out on the line."

Even though Fort LeBoeuf took the first four matches, the Defenders limited bonus points with only one of those matches being decided by fall.

John Duran got things started at heavyweight for the Bison when he bested Stone Allison in a 2-0 decision. At 107, Gage Bell picked up an 8-4 decision against Ryan Kemock for a 6-0 Bison lead.

Nikolay Bardwell doubled Fort LeBoeuf's advantage when he pinned Aaron Crisman late in the opening period at 114. Then, at 121, Brady Bowers extended the Bison lead to 15-0 when he defeated Caden Snyder in a 3-0 decision.

The Defenders responded by taking four consecutive matches.

Starting at 127, Gavin Hunter gave Warrior Run its first three points of the match, winning 3-0 over Haidan McNamara. Max Wirnsberger followed that with a pin of Matthew Salmon in the second period at 133 to trim the Defenders' deficit to 15-9. Sam Hall (139) and Tyler Ulrich (145) each picked up three points in their matches to tie it at 15.

After Ulrich's win, the closest bout of the day occurred at 152 where Reagan Milheim was bumped up to face Fort LeBoeuf's JoJo Przybycien in a matchup of returning state qualifiers. Milheim earned the upper hand with a reversal early in the second period. However, Przybycien registered a pair of escapes to force overtime. Przybycien took the tiebreak when he earned another escape in the second extra period to give the Bison an 18-15 lead.

It was Milheim's second loss of the season. He suffered his first loss to Montoursville's Gage Wentzel in the District 4 team championship Saturday.

"His efforts were there — there's no question about that," Betz said. "There were about three positions where I felt like he could've finished takedowns on, and I feel like he rushed a little bit on three of those. We sat there and talked about that at the end of it. It didn't even come down to overtime. He had opportunities in regulation, and I think he just rushed."

Cameron Milheim got the Defenders back on track at 160 when he earned a technical fall against Aiden Struchen. Milheim led 22-9 in the final seconds of the third period when he scored a takedown to give the Defenders the extra point for a 20-18 lead.

The Bison took the next two matches after Ryan Welka (172) earned a decision, and Conner McChesney (189) registered a major decision. McChesney's win gave the Bison a 25-20 edge, meaning Warrior Run needed a pin from Connor Parker against Jack Sangl at 215 to take the win.

Parker and Sangl were tied at 2-2 entering the final period. Parker then earned five points with a reversal and nearfall for a 7-2 advantage. Parker was close to getting a pin, but Sangl staved it off. Parker had to settle for three points, and Fort LeBoeuf advanced to the quarterfinals.

It was Parker's second consecutive win against a ranked opponent after he knocked off Montoursville's Cole Yonkin on Saturday.

"It's a tough spot to be in to have to try to hunt a pin out of that when the guy knows he doesn't have to give up a pin," Betz said. "It's a tough position to be in, but I think he did a good job of going out and trying to score points."

Berks Catholic, which finished second in District 3, is ranked No. 18 in the state in Class 2A. If the Defenders get past the Saints, then they'll wrestle again at 4 p.m. today.

"We still got matches, so we gotta be excited about that," Betz said. "So the focus just becomes the next match. I told the guys all week, 'It's one match at a time. The goal is to go 1-0 in that match, and then refocus on the next one.' We get an opportunity to compete again a little earlier than we'd like to be, but it's another match."





285: John Duran (FL) dec. Stone Allison, 2-0; 107: Gage Bell (FL) dec. Ryan Kemock, 8-4; 114: Nikolay Bardwell (FL) pinned Aaron Crisman, 1:30; 121: Brady Bowers dec. Caden Snyder, 5-2; 127: Gavin Hunter (WR) dec. Haidan McNamara, 3-0; 133: Max Wirnsberger (WR) pinned Matthew Salmon, 3:17; 139: Sam Hall (WR) dec. Brody Myers, 3-1; 145: Tyler Ulrich (WR) dec. Jackson Bowers, 7-3; 152: Jojo Przybycien (FL) dec. Reagan Milheim, 3-2 TB2; 160: Cameron Milheim (WR) tech. fall Aiden Struchen, 24-9 (5:59), 172: Ryan Welka (FL) dec. Cole Shupp, 5-3; 189: Conner McChesney (FL) maj. dec. Isaiah Betz, 9-1; 215: Connor Parker (WR) dec. Jack Sangl, 7-2.