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Garcia, Barvitskie settle for second place in Class 2A

Mar. 9—HERSHEY — Childhood friends Mason Barvitskie and Garrett Garcia were looking to end their careers at Hershey together on the highest note.

However, the Southern Columbia seniors fell in their respective state title bouts with Barvitskie losing to Warrior Run's Reagan Milheim in the 145-pound final while Garcia dropped the 189 title match to Huntingdon's Andrew McMonagle.

Barvitskie and Garcia were two of seven Class 2A wrestlers from the Valley who fell short of the top spot at the podium, but still walked away from the Giant Center donning medals on Saturday.

Line Mountain's Brock Rothermel (114), Mifflinburg's Bradley Wagner (121), Upper Dauphin's Jonah Peterson (127), Midd-West's Matthew Smith (139) and Warrior Run's Cameron Milheim (152) also finished in the top eight in their respective weight classes.

"They both laid it on the line," Southern Columbia coach Steve Pesarchick said about Barvitskie and Garcia. "They both battled, they just came up a little short... It's tough. I think that's more heartbreaking to lose at the end than it is going out and just getting beat."

Barvitskie lost to Milheim after he gave up a takedown with four seconds left in the match to drop a 3-1 decision and settle for the silver medal. Minutes later, Garcia held a 6-3 lead going into the final period of his championship bout. However, McMonagle scored six points during the final two minutes while Garcia registered an escape. McMongale's takedown with 1:18 left proved to be the title-clinching move.

Barvitskie finishes his career with an overall record of 125-32 and four state medals. Barvitskie finished fifth to end his freshman and junior seasons while he ended up in fourth place as a sophomore.

Barvitskie will continue to wrestle at the Division-I level at the U.S. Military Academy next season.

"He's got great character," Pesarchick said. "Nobody wants to lose, and to lose in the last couple of seconds is heartbreaking, but he's gotta have composure. Mason's off to a nine-year commitment to Army-West Point, so he's gonna do great things with his life."

As for Garcia, it was his second time placing at states after finishing fifth as a sophomore two seasons ago. Garcia suffered his first and only loss of the season to McMonagle and finished the season with a 33-1 record. Garcia was 95-14 overall.

It was Garcia's first loss in nearly two years. Garcia missed the entirety of his junior season after tearing his ACL on the first play of the football season.

"He's been through hell and back," Pesarchick said. "Every time he steps on the field or wrestling mat, he sacrifices his body at all costs. He's a competitor, and he did what he could after football to get on the wrestling mat. Hats off to him, he got to the state finals. There was some people who'd never thought he'd be here and he was."

Rothermel and Wagner both found the medal stand as freshmen. Rothermel defeated Easton Mull (Chestnut Ridge) in a 6-2 decision to claim the bronze.

Rothermel finished 2-0 on Saturday after suffering a loss to eventual state-champion Ayden Smith (Notre Dame-Green Pond) in the semifinals on Friday.

Rothermel was Line Mountain's first state medalist since 2017 and finished the year 42-4.

"It's great, it's a little bittersweet," Rothermel said. "Obviously, I wanted to be on top of the podium. Third place is the next best thing, so I'm happy."

Wagner fell to the seventh-place bout on Saturday, where he took on a familiar opponent in Sullivan County's Colton Wade. After the pair split the district and regional finals, Wagner took the rubber match with 6-2 decision.

Wagner completed his freshman season with a record of 41-5.

"I learned more about how he wrestled and what to defend and watch for," Wagner said. "Wrestling him that first time really gave me more of an understanding of what to do and what to look for against him."

After finishing as a runner-up last season, Milheim claimed his third career medal at states with a sixth-place finish. After losing to eventual state-champion Melvin Miller (Bishop McCort) in the semifinals on Friday, Milheim dropped both of his bouts on Saturday to Gage Wentzel (Montoursville) and Cody Hamilton (Grove City).

Milheim concluded his junior campaign with a mark of 47-5.

"He wrestled well this week — we told him that," said Warrior Run coach Jeremy Betz. "I think that he could've gotten to his offense and stay a little bit more forward in his semifinal match. But (Saturday) he wrestled well; it just didn't happen."

After going winless in his first trip to Hershey last season, Smith claimed his first-ever state medal by finishing in fourth place. Smith was pinned by Chase Bell (Reynolds) during the second period of the third-place bout. Smith went 43-7 this season.

Peterson claimed an eighth-place medal when he fell to West Perry's Jackson Rush in a 13-2 major decision in the seventh-place match. Peterson, a senior, was making his debut at Hershey and was Upper Dauphin's lone wrestler at the state tournament.

Peterson finished 38-12 this season and posted a record of 114-39 in four years with the Trojans' program.

"Lots of good wrestling," Peterson said. "Definitely had to wrestle my best this weekend in order to be in this position, but just got it done."