By Michael Waterloo
For The Daily Item
Twelve local wrestlers will be moving on to the regional wrestling tournament after a strong showing at Clarion University on Saturday.
Selinsgrove will send four wrestlers, including a first-place finisher in Nathan Bingaman.
“Like I said yesterday, there were no big surprises for us. I knew all three of the finalists had tough matches,” Seals coach Seth Martin said. “I’m very pleased with our efforts this weekend.”
The Seals featured three wrestlers who earned their way into the finals, but the aforementioned Bingaman was the only one to walk away with the first-place medal. For Shikellamy, 220-pounder Dwayne Pepper also took home the gold.
Bingaman started off his day with a pin with 30 seconds left in the third period over Joe Snyder of Shikellamy.
That pitted Bingaman against the No. 1 seed Joshua Cameroni of Saint Marys, but Bingaman was able to pull off the minor upset for the win.
“On paper, it looked the best for Nathan out of the bunch, but we didn’t know what to expect,” Martin said.
Austin Lewis is also on his way to Altoona, as he started his day off with a close 4-1 win over the No. 3 seed Nate Lose of Jersey Shore.
Lewis, who was the runner-up a year ago, had a taste of deja vu, as he had to square off against the No. 1 seed again this year.
Tom Sleigh of DuBois improved his record to 29-0 this year with his 17-1 tech-fall win over Lewis.
The Seals’ Andrew Boob advanced to the semis with a 16-0 tech-fall in his lone match on Friday, and things looked sharp for Boob after his 9-1 win over Jacob Huling of Jersey Shore to advance to the finals.
Boob brought his 21-3 record center stage to take on Pepper (18-3).
Pepper showed his brute strength, as he coasted to a 16-5 victory to give Boob the second-place finish.
Bryce Reichenbach won his opening match on Friday, but was pinned at the 30-second mark in his first match on Saturday.
With the loss, Reichenbach was sent to the consolation bracket, where he managed to claw his way through a bevy of opponents for an eventual 2-1 win over the No. 3 seeded Cameron Resch of Saint Marys.
“That was a decent kid that he beat for third place,” Martin said. “He performed well.”
Shikellamy will send eight wrestlers to regionals, including Pepper.
“We took seven last year and eight this year, so I’m happy with that,” Braves coach John Supsic said. “We didn’t have the overall dual-meet season that I would’ve liked, but we came in here and did pretty well with advancing eight wrestlers.”
Five of the eight wrestlers for Shikellamy were out of the consolation bracket, which is an impressive feat by itself.
Nick Cashdollar, Jared Brown, Anthony Best, Joe Snyder and Jeremy Bacon had to win out in the consolation bracket to earn a third-place finish, respectively.
The first place-winner for the Braves was Tyler Hepler at 113 pounds.
Hepler earned a trip to the finals after his 12-9 victory in the semis over Cameron Resch of St. Marys.
In the finals, however, Logan Gilbert, the No. 1 seed from Clearfield, took Hepler down 5-3 in a highly contested match.
Next up was Tristan Paul, who had the luxury of a first-round bye on Friday.
Paul made quick work of Kyle Pecht from St. Marys to improve his record to 24-3 and earn a trip to the finals.
Paul had the daunting task of taking on 26-0 No. 1 seed Kaleb Young of Punxsutawney.
Things were knotted early, but they soon fell apart in the second period, as Young earned the pin at the 50-second mark of the second period.
Supsic doesn’t think the loss to Young will hurt Paul’s confidence at the regionals.
“I’m telling him to wrestle hard. He got a qualifying spot and he’s in the mix to finish top three at regionals,” Supsic added.
Supsic was also impressed with his champion, Pepper.
“Dwayne had a great match, and he was dominant all weekend for us. His biggest strength is his athleticism, and what he lacks at times is confidence,” Supsic said. “He wrestled with confidence all weekend and dominated this tournament.”