By Bryan Swan
For The Daily Item
The first-ever District 4/9 Class AAA wrestling championships concluded Saturday at Clarion University’s Waldo S. Tippin Gymnasium and Shikellamy and Selinsgrove combined to send 10 wrestlers to the Northwest Regional Tournament next weekend in Altoona.
The Braves came away with seven regional qualifiers, which were the most among the four District 4 schools. Selinsgrove had three, while DuBois claimed the most among the nine schools with 10 individual qualifiers. Jersey Shore had six and Williamsport had three.
Jesse Shambach (182), Dwayne Pepper (220) and Dan Karpinski (285) won district titles for the Braves who had five finalists overall. That helped the Braves finish third overall with 119 points, trailing DuBois who finished with 184.5 points to win for the third straight year. St. Marys was second with 107. Selinsgrove finished ninth with 44, trailing Williamsport (48), Bradford (73) and Jersey Shore (91.5).
Tristan Paul (132) came up short against Clearfield’s Christian Stone, who became the 13th Bison in school history to win four career district titles. Paul trailed 2-1 after two periods before Stone (30-1) used a reversal and a late takedown to seal the win.
John Rohrbach (160) also came away with a second-place finish after his match with DuBois’ Mike Kennelly. Kennelly pulled out a 5-0 decision to earn his third straight to regionals after finishing as the runner-up each of the past two years.
Shambach scored a thrilling victory for the Braves’ first district title. He was tied with DuBois’ Shane Marshall at one after regulation. After getting to the outside to avoid a couple takedowns, Shambach hit the winning takedown with three seconds left in the one-minute overtime period.
Pepper followed two matches later with a 6-4 decision against St. Marys’ Gary Fledderman. The junior scored three points in the second for a 4-2 lead and he got his second takedown in the third en route to the victory.
Karpinski (285) gave up a 2-1 after the first and he faced a 5-3 deficit through two against Bradford’s Dakota Sera. However, the senior clinched the come-from-behind win with a takedown at the buzzer to notch a 6-5 win.
Tyler Hepler (120) and Darryl Englehardt (170) gave the Braves two more wrestlers at regionals with their wins in the consolation semifinals.
Hepler was pinned by the eventual champ, Punxsy’s Joel Bowers in the semifinals Saturday. The junior came back to pin Jersey Shore’s Colton Killion in 41 seconds and then he scored a 5-2 versus DuBois’ Kody Cox to finish 3-1 overall.
Englehardt took a similar path. He won his opening bout Friday then lost to eventual champ, DuBois’ Tom Sleigh who won captures his third district title as a junior. Sleigh also won his second straight Outstanding Wrestler award.
Englehardt edged Jersey Shore’s Utoa Agai-Naipo 4-3, then beat Bradford’s Matthew Moonan 7-4 for third place with a 3-1 record overall.
Austin Lewis was Selinsgrove’s only finalist and he finished second at 195 to DuBois’ Landon Hanna who came away with his second straight district title. Hanna (32-1) needed just 1:09 combined to pin both of his opponents in the five-man bracket.
Joining Lewis in Altoona is Marcus Winn (126) and Andrew Boob (182) who both took fourth.
After getting pinned by Punxsy’s Kaleb Young on Friday, Winn won by a 17-7 major decision and then he edged DuBois’ Austin Gahr to reach the consolation finals where he lost by injury default after 3:40 to Jersey Shore’s Colton Killion
After starting 1-1, the freshman kept his season alive by pinning Punxsy’s Brandon Wingert in 1:36 to reach the consolation finals where he settled for fourth, losing to former two-time champ, St. Marys’ Joey McLaughlin.
Logan Boyer (145), Nathan Bingaman (152) and Mike Betts (160) each went 1-2 for the two-day event while Nathan Young (106), Dylan Kremer (113), Brett Harpster (132), Brett Benfer (138) and Darion Lavanowitz (170) and Shane Keller (220) went 0-2 for the Seals.
On Friday, Shikellamy was one of four schools along with St. Marys (8-3), DuBois (7-4) and Bradford (3-1) who posted winning records. The Braves received wins from Hepler, Paul, Rohrbach, Englehardt, Shambach, Pepper and Karpinski as they combined to go 7-5 overall, good for third place in the team standings with 27 points.
Selinsgrove went 3-9 with Bingaman, Boob and Lewis earning victories while Jersey Shore (6-8) and Williamsport (2-7) rounded out things for District 4 on the opening night.