By Bill Albright
For The Daily Item
Going into Saturday’s action in the Class AAA Northwest regional tournament, Shikellamy’s Jesse Shambach (182 pounds) and Dwayne Pepper (220) along with Selinsgrove’s Austin Lewis (195) gave the Valley a trio of wrestlers alive for a possible gold medal. However, when the championship semifinals concluded, the area was without a finalist as all three wrestlers came out short of a trip to the state tournament.
All three wrestlers fell at the hands of Bald Eagle Area opponents. Shambach was majored 15-5 by state medalist Jake Taylor at 182; Pepper was pinned in 4:28 by Nate Sharkey; and Lewis also lost by fall in 4:48 to Aaron Varner.
In addition to the area’s trio of semifinalists, Shikellamy had five other wrestlers still alive in the wrestlebacks, while the Seals had a pair of wrestlers in the consolation brackets.
Unfortunately for Shik’s Tyler Hepler, John Rohrbach and Tristan Paul, their day and tournament ended with a loss in the first bout, as it did for Selinsgrove’s Marcus Winn and Andrew Boob.
Hepler was pinned by Noah Cline of Clearfield in 4:08; Rohrbach lost a tough 2-0 overtime decision to Mike Kennelly of DuBois; and Paul also saw his season come to an end with a frustrating loss as he suffered a takedown in overtime to Beau Colletta of Cathedral Prep to fall 8-6.
For the Seals, Winn was the victim of a 44-second pin at the hands of Jersey Shore’s Colton Killion, while Boob was manhandled by Shane Marshall for a 16-0 technical fall in 3:49.
After his loss to Sharkey, Pepper saw his tournament end when he suffered his second straight loss by fall to Kyle Kahley of Mifflin County. Karpinski fell one win short of getting into the mix of things for a possible medal when he was pinned by Austin Rosenberry of Altoona.
After his loss to Varner, Lewis kept his hopes for a trip to Hershey alive with a fall in 3:46 over Alex Thayer of General McLane.
In the medal round for third, Lewis was pitted against Mante Barnes of Altoona and despite giving it all he had, came up a point short with a 3-2 loss.
“I was really hoping to go to states because I made a deal with my family that if I went, I would get a puppy,” said Lewis. “I didn’t get it this year, but hopefully I will get it. I was really pushing for that possible late takedown and I got hit in the mouth, but that happens.”
Selinsgrove coach Seth Martin hates to see Winn leave.
“Marcus is a first-year kid who came into this tournament with five wins,” said Martin. “With his lack of experience there is only so much that you can expect from him and you hate to see him go. I am happy for him that he was able to get through districts and get here to experience the atmosphere of this tournament.”
Although Selinsgrove loses Winn from the program, Martin is glad to be able to work with Boob and Lewis next year.
“Coming as close as we did and not making it makes it (to states) somewhat of a bittersweet situation” said Martin. “Last year we miss a trip to Hershey by two points and this year by only one point and that makes it a little depressing. But Drew getting here as a freshman and having him win a match was big for him, and with both of them coming back, there is always next year.”