Gular walks away with D-9 mat title; Gators finish third

Eight PAHS wrestlers qualify for next weekend’s Northwest Regional in Sharon

Lori Chase
Port Allegany Reporter Argus
March 3, 2011

At Saturday night’s District IX Wrestling Championships in Clarion, Port Allegany’s Alex Gular was leading 2-1 in the 152-pound title match when suddenly, he appeared to be distracted by something. As Gular turned his head, his opponent, Redbank Valley’s Cole Shirey, sensed an opportunity and attacked.

Which was exactly what Gular was waiting for.

Dropping down low, the Gator sophomore grabbed Shirey in a fireman’s carry and neatly flipped him onto his back, earning a near-fall on his way to a 7-1 decision and his second district crown.

Asked about Gular’s move, coach Sean Lathrop couldn’t stifle a grin. “That’s a walkaway. We won’t tell you who invented it; just ask Adam Greenman,” he said with a chuckle.

Gular (30-8) explained, “I think it was last year, Coach Lathrop founded the walkaway. He was messing around in practice and hit it on Adam” – the 2010 152-pound district champ and Big 30 All-Star now wrestling at Gannon University – “and Adam and I started using it in matches. So far, not many people have stopped it, so I’m probably going to keep on using it.”

He won’t have to wait long to get another chance to do just that, as one of eight Port Allegany matmen who earned a medal-round singlet – courtesy of assistant coach B.J. Greenman – by finishing in the top four to move on to next weekend’s PIAA Northwest Regional in Sharon. Two other Gators made it to the championship match, with Nick Budd (189 pounds) and Zach Manning (285) both earning second-place plaques after running into the No. 1 seed in their weight class. Port finished an agonizing half-point behind Ridgway, 145-144.5, for second place behind district champion Brookville’s 197.5 points.

“The kids wrestled well all week,” Lathrop said. “We’ve got eight going on, seven in the top three, and I’m pretty sure that’s the most or tied for the most Port’s ever had. It’s real nice to have the kids finish like this. Thank the football team, because we’re peaking at the right time. If they don’t go a month longer, maybe we peak too early. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Assistant coach Alan Lovell added, “To have eight out of 12 – we didn’t bring a full team – is really impressive. I thought throughout the weekend, there were very few matches we expected to win and didn’t. And we could have had more. Bryan Lacher and Trent Neal both came up a match short (of moving on); Bryan came a point away.”

Monday afternoon, back at practice, Lathrop reflected on the weekend.

“Honestly, nobody thought we would’ve ended up like that, with that many people in. But at the beginning of the year, we knew in here” – he motioned toward the Gators’ wrestling room – “the coaches, we knew we had the potential to do that well. Once you get the kids to believe in it, it’s pretty easy.”

Other medalists:
103: After dropping a 2-0 decision in the semis, Lucas Manning (26-11) knew he couldn’t afford another loss. He did better than that, not allowing a single point the rest of the way as he wrestled back to third place: “The goal was to move on, and I got the job done.”

130: Battling the flu all week, Chet Tanner (35-3) still managed a third-place finish and a trip to Sharon. The plan there? “Take care of business,” the senior said.

140: Brad Goodreau wrestled a tight match with Ridgway’s Kyle Caggiano for third place, but trailing 2-1, couldn’t get the last point he needed to tie the score. He’s still headed to Sharon, though, as the top four in each weight class advance.

“It feels really good to be able to go to regionals,” Goodreau (26-15) said. “Hopefully I’ll get a couple of wins there, maybe get a place. That would be sweet.”

160: Eight seconds into his first match, Ryan Kio (32-9) took a shot to the face, and wrestled the rest of the weekend with what appeared to be a broken nose. Kio didn’t let it stop him, though, notching an overtime win in the consolation final.

“You just wrestle every minute every match, every second every match, and it just works out for you,” he said.

171: Kane’s Sean Welch was the sole No. 1 seed to lose during Friday’s prelims, courtesy of a second-period pin by eighth-seeded Dalton Warnick (12-8).

“It was a great moment. I wasn’t expecting to win,” Warnick said.

After a one-point loss in the semis to eventual champ Tyler Dombrowski, the Gator senior left little doubt in his consolation matches, earning a 17-3 major decision and another pin to end up in third.

189: Nick Budd (31-9) fell to defending titlist Jacob Shields (35-2) in the championship match; the Brookville senior earned the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler award with four first-period pins in as many matches.

“The finals match could have been better, but the other matches I wrestled pretty good,” Budd said. “I’m moving on; that’s all that matters.”

285: Just to get to the finals, Zach Manning had to get by Ridgway’s Jesse Sheasley, a wrestler he’d never beaten … until Saturday, when he pinned the Elker senior in the third period of their semifinal match.

“He’s a tough kid,” Manning said. “I wrestled my gameplan, did what I had to do to win. Kept the match close, and caught him at the end.”

His reward? A match against Brockway’s unbeaten Joel Yahner (31-0), who barely broke a sweat while decking his first two opponents in mere seconds. Manning (30-5) stayed with him for the entire six minutes, with Yahner’s first-period takedown the only points in the 2-0 match.

“Yahner’s a really tough kid who’ll be at the state tournament this year. Next weekend at regionals I’ll be wrestling him again, so I’ll come back, get a good week of practice and go hard,” Manning said.

“It feels great (to make it to regionals), but work’s not done yet this year. I’ve got a lot more to do to accomplish what I’ve been dreaming of doing since I was nine years old, when I first started wrestling in JO’s: place at the state tournament in Hershey.”

At Clarion, Feb. 25-26:
Brookville 197.5, Ridgway 145, Port Allegany 144.5, Redbank Valley 109, Smethport 98.5, Kane 98, Brockway 80, Clarion 68, Curwensville 55.5, Cranberry 48, Johnsonburg 47, Keystone 42, Cameron County 41.5, Oswayo Valley 38.5, Coudersport 30.5, Sheffield 30, Venango Christian 2.

Championship Finals:
103: Trent Neely (Smethport) 1-0 Cody Blankenship (Kane)
112: Trey Constable (Brookville) 5-4 Nate Schwab (Smethport)
119: Corey Bush (Ridgway) 16-1 Darren Brown (Kane)
125: Jesse Wolfe (Johnsonburg) 3-0 Mike Bauer (Clarion)
130: Jake Keller (Curwensville) 5:40 Ty Haines (Redbank Valley)
135: Slade Horner (Ridgway) 5-4 OT Max Zimmerman (Johnsonburg)
140: Zach Vroman (Brookville) 4-2 OT Evan Delong (Kane)
145: Dylan Zimmerman (Brookville) 5-2 Brandon Ryan (Sheffield)
152: Alex Gular (Port Allegany) 7-1 Cole Shirey (Redbank Valley)
160: D.J. Skraba (Ridgway) 2-1 Danny Walters (Clarion)
171: Tyler Dombrowski (Brookville) 2-1 Brandon Ferringer (Cranberry)
189: Jacob Shields (Brookville) 1:36 Nick Budd (Port Allegany)
215: Logan Stout (Brookville) 3-2 Zachary Brinkley (Brockway)
285: Joel Yahner (Brockway) 2-0 Zach Manning (Port Allegany)

Consolation Finals:
103: Lucas Manning (Port Allegany) 3-0 Devon Park (Brockway)
112: Willie Gruver (Redbank Valley) 6-0 Jon Gelsick (Kane)
119: Karl Lightner (Smethport) 17-2 Zach Cokely (Cameron County)
125: Kyle Bova (Coudersport) 6-3 Garret Hildebrand (Redbank Valley)
130: Chester Tanner (Port Allegany) 3-1 OT Brodie Zacherl (Brookville)
135: Brett Smith (Brookville) 4-1 Sam Colebert (Oswayo Valley)
140: Kyle Caggiano (Ridgway) 2-1 Brad Goodreau (Port Allegany)
145: Tanner Hannold (Keystone) 1-0 Kyle Freer (Smethport)
152: Nathan Hartless (Brockway) 2-1 OT Jake Himes (Ridgway)
160: Ryan Kio (Port Allegany) 4-1 OT Ron Clark (Brookville)
171: Dalton Warnick (Port Allegany) 4:16 Jordan Miller (Keystone)
189: Luke Wilson (Oswayo Valley) 12-1 Issac Seniour (Cranberry)
215: Chad Quail (Ridgway) 4:53 Braden Bowser (Redbank Valley)
285: Andrew Fragale (Cameron County) :01 default Cameron Slike (Clarion)

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