Several local wrestlers stood on the medal stand at the Northeast Regional Championships, but only one will be going Hershey to compete in the PIAA championships.
Montrose Senior Joe Hester rebounded from a semifinal loss to capture the bronze and qualify for the 132-pound Class 2A state championships.
Along the way Hester made history as he surpassed 1984 state champion Mike Cole on the Montrose Wrestling all-time wins list.
Hester opened the weekend with a takedown of Montgomery’s Devon Deem in 1:17. The pin gave Hester career victory 128 to surpass Cole as the Montrose career leader.
“I wanted to go out and push the pace,” said Hester. “I wanted to put him away early.”
The victory also put him in the semifinal Saturday morning versus Sullivan County’s Nathan Higley. The talented sophomore earned a 7-3 decision over Hester on his way to capturing the Regional championship.
“He’s a talented wrestler, but I was disappointed with how I wrestled,” explained Hester.
With a berth in the state championships on the line, Hester regrouped in the consolation semifinals pinning Line Mountain’s Ian Coller at the 3:53 mark.
“I knew this could be my last match,” said Hester. “I wanted to go out aggressively and I was able to get the pin.”
In the consolation finals, Hester found him against his opponent in the previous weekend’s District II championships, Lake Lehman’s Robert Long.
Hester made some adjustments in how he wrestled Long from the the week prior and was able to pull away to earn a 6-2 decision.
“I wanted to stay away from scrambling as much,” said Hester. “He’s fun to wrestle and a great competitor.”
Hester will travel to Hershey today and begin wrestling Thursday morning. He earned a bye from the preliminary rounds and will wrestle Northwestern’s John Wheeler the runner up in the Northwest Region.
Montrose’s Bryan Ryan was the next highest local finisher taking fifth in the 195-pound weight class.
Ryan opened against Towanda’s Clay Green and lost an 8-4 decision. He rebounded in his first consolation match to pin Lake Lehman’s Thomas Nalbone in 48 seconds.
However, in the consolation semifinals Ryan saw his dream of advancing to states vanquished when he dropped a close 5-2 decision to Central Columbia’s Jack Schechterly.
Just like the opening round loss, Ryan rebounded with a pin of Mid West’s Trey Lauver in 3:43 to claim fifth place and earn a state alternate position.
Blue Ridge’s top two finishers also found themselves in the fifth-place match as the Raiders’ Adam Roe squared off against Shane Miller of Southern Columbia at 152 pounds; and Nate McArthur was matched against TJ Walter of Milton.
Roe opened the weekend when he got by Cael Crebs of Mountoursville in a 4-3 decision. The victory was also the senior’s 99th career victory.
In the semifinals Roe was pitted against District II champion DJ Erickson of Hanover Area. Erickson was able to defeat Roe, 9-4, and would go on to win the Regional Championship.
Roe faced Isaac Cory of Troy and lost the hard-fought match 1-0 to set up his bout with Miller for fifth place. Miller got out early on Roe and handed him a 12-4 major decision.
McArthur would bookend his weekend with matches against Walter. In the opening round Walter got the best of McArthur with a 5-3 decision.
After receiving a bye in the consolation quarterfinals, McArthur dropped another close decision to Williamson’s Matthew Carpenter 6-4.
Facing Walter for a second time, McArthur was taken down at the 4:20 mark allowing Walter to capture fifth place.
Montrose’s Marc Avila (182) and Justin Kelly (285), and Blue Ridge’s Gavin Crawford (113), Tom Gudykunst (160), and Eli Aldrich (220) each lost their first two regional matches and were eliminated from the tournament.