Two local wrestlers advance to PIAA semifinals; Wildcats end outstanding season

Central Mountain’s Caleb Turner takes on Collin Stevens in the PIAA High School Wrestling State Championships. (The Express/Alex Wahl)

HERSHEY – Day two of the PIAA state wrestling championships may be the hardest for every wrestler in it, but every wrestler had high hopes heading into the day.

However, there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a fan of Bald Eagle Area and Bellefonte. As for every Central Mountain, there is nothing to be ashamed of as the two remaining Wildcats lost their first matches to end the season.

First match for Central Mountain featured Wildcat Caleb Turner and Collin Stevens (39-3) of Central Bucks East High School.

The first period was very quiet until Turner got a takedown with ten seconds left to have a 2-0 lead after the one-minute period.

Turner had his lead increase halfway through the second period after Stevens was called on a locked hands violation, which was added to a Turner reversal to lead 5-0.

However, Stevens made the match more exciting after scoring a reversal and a five-point near-fall with 30 seconds left to tie the match at 5-5 after two periods.

After an immediate escape from Stevens to start the third period, Turner scored a huge takedown to take a 7-6 lead with 1:27 left.

20 seconds later, Stevens got an escape followed by a takedown to take a 9-7 lead.

For the second time, Stevens got called on a locked hands violation to decrease the Stevens lead down to one.

In the final five seconds, Central Mountain head coach Biff Walizer was yelling for an obvious third locked hands call on Stevens, but the referee didn’t see it and gave Stevens the 9-8 decision victory, thus ending the high school wrestling career of Caleb Turner.

Turner finished his senior year with an outstanding 35-10 season record with the Wildcats.

The last remaining Wildcat wrestler was 285-pounder Richard Thompson. He faced Gerald Brown (32-7) of West Mifflin High School.

A great senior season quickly came to an end for Richard Thompson after he was pinned by Brown in 40 seconds. Thompson finishes his senior year with a fantastic 34-13 record.

With the loss, Central Mountain ran out of wrestlers and was officially eliminated from the state playoffs, thus ending an outstanding season for the Central Mountain wrestling program.

Coach Walizer was saddened to see the season end, but was very happy about his seniors having a fantastic season.

“They’re going to be missed,” said Walizer. “They were a part of a very memorable season and they were able to accomplish some big things as a team.”

Meanwhile, the Bald Eagle Area wrestling team headed into day two of the three-day tournament with two quarterfinalists.

The first quarterfinal match featuring a Bald Eagle was between junior Seth Koleno (32-3) and Domenic Means (30-5) of Pittsburgh Central Catholic.

Action in the first period was very simple as Means had a 2-1 lead after two minutes.

Things got really crazy in the second period. Means got an escape point in only six seconds to gain the lead to 3-1.

However, Koleno got a takedown four seconds later to tie the match at 3-3. After an escape from Means, Koleno got another take down to take a 5-4 lead with just over a minute later.

With one minute, Means got a reversal then quickly releasing Koleno and taking him down again to have a 7-6 lead. A last second escape tied the match at 7-7 heading into the third period.

Koleno got a quick escape to start the third period to take a 8-7 lead. He later followed it up with a takedown in the final minute.

After an escape and a technical violation from Means, Koleno got a huge final takedown to seal the 13-10 decision victory.

Koleno was full of emotion after clinching a spot in the semifinals, which will take place in day three.

“It feels amazing,” said Koleno. “I’m happy to know that I’m going to place and now I have to work for bigger and better things.”

Koleno will take on undefeated Sammy Sasso (37-0) of Nazareth High School in the state semifinals.

Bald Eagle Area’s Garrett Rigg competed in the second round of the consolation bracket on day two and faced Chandler Olson (41-3) of Shippensburg High School.

Only one takedown was needed in the entire match as Rigg ended his junior year with a 2-0 loss to Olson. Rigg finishes his junior year with a 31-8 record.

The next Bald Eagle quarterfinal featured freshman Gage McClenahan (32-6) and Hempfield’s Jarod Verkleeren.

The Hempfield High School senior turned out to be too tough for McClenahan as Verkleeren cruised to an 18-5 major decision, thus sending McClenahan down to the consolation bracket.

McClenahan guaranteed a spot on the podium after beating Connor Finkey of Garden Spot High School with a 7-3 decision. He will take on Scranton High School’s William Evanitsky in the fourth consolation round.

The last local quarterfinalist was Bellefonte’s Brock Port, who entered the match with a perfect 37-0 record.

The Lock Haven University signee took on Joey Blumer (43-5) of Kiski Area High School.

Port went to work quickly by getting a takedown to have a 2-1 lead after the first period.

Blumer got an escape point in only seven seconds to tie the match at 2-2 after two periods.

Port wasn’t able to escape from the bottom referees position in the third period, which sent the quarterfinal match into overtime.

In the overtime period, Port didn’t waist a lot of time as he got the winning takedown in 15 seconds to keep his perfect senior year alive.

Port will take on Jake Hinkson (38-7) of North Allegheny High School in the semifinal round in day three.

The PIAA 3A State Championship tournament will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday with the semifinal matchups and the fourth round consolation matchups at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Results through day two:

Central Mountain’s

Caleb Turner (1-2):

W 5-1 over Tyler Neglia (Wallenpaupack)

L fall 1:44 to Drew Peck (Chambersburg)

L 9-8 to Collin Stevens (Central Bucks East)

Central Mountain’s

Richard Thompson (1-2)

L 16-0 TF to Cameron Tinner (Shippensburg)

W fall 2:58 over Kyle Osterhoudt (Neshaminy)

L fall 0:40 to Gerald Brown (West Mifflin)

Bald Eagle Area’s

Garrett Rigg (0-2):

L 5-1 to Brett Kaliner (W.C. Rustin)

L 2-0 to Chandler Olson (Shippensburg)

Bald Eagle Area’s

Seth Koleno (2-0):

W 9-3 over Cary Palmer (Council Rock South)

W 13-10 over Dominic Means (Pittsburgh CC)

Next: Championship semifinal vs Sammy Sasso (Nazareth)

Bald Eagle Area’s

Gage McClenahan (2-1):

W 4-2 over Tucker Brough (Big Spring)

L 18-5 MD to Jarod Verkleeren (Hempfield)

W 7-3 over Connor Finkey (Garden Spot)

Next: Consolation fourth round vs William Evanitsky (Scranton)

Bellefonte’s Brock Port (2-0):

W 6-0 over Luke Carty (Bethlehem Catholic)

W 4-2 over Joey Blumer (Kiski Area)

Next: Championship semifinal vs Jake Hinkson (North Allegheny)