The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 7, 2014

AA state wrestling: 3 Southern Tigers march into finals

By Harold Raker
For The Daily Item

HERSHEY — The Lane family had all the makings of a family reunion to be held today in the Giant Center in Hershey.

Then, the Marks family also made a case for an invitation.

All three Southern Columbia wrestlers won their PIAA Class AA quarterfinal and semifinal bouts Friday night to earn spots in this afternoon’s championship finals, bringing the most excitement to the Elysburg area since Knoebels introduced its latest coaster.

In addition to cousins Todd and Kent Lane, at 120 and 138 pounds, respectively, Southern’s Blake Marks, at 152, joined the party for the finals.

The other two semifinalists from the Valley, Mifflinburg’s Cole Walter and Milton’s Ryan Preisch, lost in the semis, eliminating them from a shot at the state title.

Both came back to win, and have a shot at a third-place medal today.

The Tigers surely had a flair for the dramatic Friday night.

Todd Lane won 10-8 over Joey Gould of Bethlehem Catholic after Gould was penalized for a false-start point and immediately gave Lane the escape with 30 seconds left.

Kent Lane came out of the third scramble of the first period with South Park’s Jake Wentzel and put him on his back for a pin in one minute, 56 seconds.

Marks topped them both. He was in a battle featuring scramble after scramble and trailed 8-4 when he caught Richie Cerebe, Calvary Christian, in a headlock for a pin in 4:54.

Three others from the Valley lost in the second round of consolations and were eliminated from the tournament.

Upper Dauphin’s Coy Campbell had one of the most heartbreaking losses. The Trojans’ junior 113-pounder was seemingly on his way to a win, and a medal, leading Faris Messai, of Jamestown, in the third period.

But Messai turned Campbell and pinned him just 36 seconds into the final stanza.

Warrior Run sophomore Zack LeBarron had the misfortune of facing one of the tournament favorites in the second round of consolations  at 120 after George Phillippi, a returning state champion, lost in the quarterfinal.

LeBarron was able to hang with the Derry Area wrestler, but a Phillippi takedown in the first period was the difference in a 2-0 elimination loss.

Lewisburg junior Max Reed dropped a quarterfinal to Briton Shelton, Bermudian Springs, 4-1, then saw his season end in the second round of consolations.

After he missed a chance to score points in the third period against Oswayo Valley’s Samuel Colebert, the latter scored an escape at the buzzer for a 1-0 win.

The Tigers, coached by two-time state champ Jerry Marks, Blake’s father, and one-time titleist Kent Lane, father of Kent and uncle of Todd, brought back memories of Southern’s state title run in 1984. Those Tigers had three state place-winners: Bill Freeman, first; Greg Haladay, third; and John Fullmer, fourth.

The Tigers enter today with 60.5 team points, good for third place, behind Brookville’s 65.5 and favored Bethlehem Catholic’s 123.5.

Said Blake Marks, “I was just so overwhelmed. I just can’t believe that all three of us (made it to the finals). I have never been in a tournament where I’ve had everyone that came with me here, get to the finals.”

He admitted some pressure in trying to win after his two teammates did. “I didn’t want to be standing here for the consolations while my friends were having fun,” he added.

Marks said that when he came out of a flurry with Cerebe in a headlock, he had to check the scoreboard to determine if he should hold him there or, if he needed six points, to get three and go for more.

“I’m just not patient enough to sit there for a minute and I just worked for the fall,” he said. “And I stuck him.”

Marks said Cerebe is a great wrestler and got caught, “but a win’s a win.”

“I wanted to stay open because he was a hard opponent to score on. He had a really compact stance and was real strong,” Marks said.

Kent Lane got his fall without a takedown, something he thinks is a first for him.

He worked hard for takedowns, but either got stalemates, or was unable to finish them, in part, because of Wentzel’s style.

“I kept spinning and I kept scrambling and I was keeping my height up because he was below me,” he said. “Those low shots were there all day, four or five times, but he was just trying to stall.

“But I had him. I could take him down all day,” Lane added.

About the final, he said, “I’m excited. I’m ready to go. You will see me going hard (today).”

Todd Lane said the difference in his tight decision was that he kept his cool, even when he got taken down and then put on his back for a 5-0 deficit.

“I had to keep my composure and that’s probably the best thing I did, and that made the difference in the match,” he said.

Lane came back with a reversal and two near-fall points to make it 5-4 after one. Gould led 6-4 after two, on an escape.

Gould made it 8-4 with three more back points bebefore Lane tied it with a reversal and two back points, setting up the finish.

“I really wasn’t thinking of the cautions, but I knew if he got one it was good for me, but, if not, I just had to get out of the bottom (with 30 seconds left),” Lane said.

“I was pretty confident. We work on the bottom a lot,” he said.

Lane thought he had some back points in the third, but the referee did not award them.

“I don’t want to argue with the ref. His call stands,” he said.

The freshman said he is a little surprised to be in the finals, but he also said he trained so hard to get to this point.

“I’m kind of relieved,” he said.

In the semifinals, Preisch was battling Jared Walker, of South Fayette, in the ultimate tiebreaker period, tied at 2-2 when Walker ended it by putting him on his back for two near-fall points.

He beat rival Jeric Kasunic, of Benton, in the fourth-round consolation, his fourth win over the Tiger in as many weeks.

Walter gave up an escape and takedown in the second to Burrell’s Steve Edwards to trail 3-0. He escaped in the third but Edwards clinched it with another takedown for a 5-1 win.

Walter then finished the night with a 2-1 win over Brodie Zacherl of Brookville.

Both Preisch and Walter declined to comment after their consolation wins.