FRANCONIA — Octorara coach Mark Durante got a big smile when Academy Park’s Max Fitzgerald chose bottom to start the second period of the 170-pound quarterfinal bout.
Octorara’s Ryan Sharpless was right where he wanted to be. Fitzgerald actually worked a reversal, but Sharpless survived the period and when his choice came up in the third, naturally he went right back up on top.
This time, the senior did not miss his opportunity. Trailing late in the third, Sharpless worked his magic on top, putting Fitzgerald on his back and finishing him with nine seconds left in the bout.
“My main strategy is to try and get on top,” Sharpless said. “That’s where most of my offensive moves are. When I get my legs in I either keep him down or turn him, and when he chose bottom it gave me two chances to be on top.”
Friday, Sharpless was one of 17 locals to reach the semifinals of the Class AAA Southeast Regional tournament at Souderton High. Saturday, those semifinalists will compete at approximately 1130 a.m., with the first round of consolations starting the action at 930 a.m.
With the top five finishers advancing, semifinalists will have three chances to win one more match to qualify for states.
“I had a problem last year because of a skin condition and missed districts, and this year was a completely new start for me,” said Sharpless, who will get Pottsgrove’s Ryan Finn in the semis. “It’s time for me to come back and make up for last year.”
Sixteen from the Ches-Mont League reached the semis, while Eric Hutchinson (138 pounds) is there for Conestoga. The senior Pioneer trailed West Chester Rustin’s Tyler Kaliner early, but figured him out and rolled to a 15-6 major decision.
“I’ve been wrestling how I want to wrestle,” said Hutchinson, who sees Council Rock South’s Cary Palmer next. “I’ve been working with my coaches and have been trying to make my opponents wrestle my match, how I want to wrestle.”
Arguably the biggest win, in terms of importance with how the bracket fell, was by West Chester Henderson’s Jake Reid. The senior was dominant from the start, blanking Council Rock South’s Ben Radner, 7-0.
Reid faces another tough task in Council Rock North’s Aidan Burke in the semis, but he avoided a treacherous side of the consolation bracket with the win over Radner.
“I’m just taking it one match at a time,” Reid said. “I was just grinding and I knew (Radner) would break. I kept on my setups and the pressure the whole time and got through the match.”
Coatesville leads the area with four semifinalists and sits in fourth place in the team standings. Brent Windle (145) and Chase Stephens (152) cruised through the quarters, while Sean McBride (182) and Alex Raimondo (220) survived close bouts. Windle sees Methacton’s Bryce Reddington, Stephens gets Boyertown’s Chris Berry, McBride deals with Boyertown’s Elijah Jones and Raimondo faces Upper Darby’s Brian Kennerly.
Downingtown West and West Chester Rustin have three in the semis, apiece. Doug Zapf (106) and Cole Zapf (195) breezed to the semis with a technical fall and a medical forfeit, respectivly, while Nick Lilley (132) came from behind to edge Council Rock North’s freshman, Cam Robinson.
Doug Zapf will get CR South’s Maximo Mendez’s best, Lilley sees Norristown’s Eric Fuentes and Cole Zapf will face Rustin’s Matt Lamberjack for the third straight week.
Rustin’s Brett Kaliner (126) flexed his muscle and potentially caught a break as Garnet Valley’s Matt Marino was beaten by Harry S. Truman’s sophomore Gunnar Fuss. Kaliner will face Fuss with a spot in the finals on the line.
Collin Hurley (160) outlasted Boyertown’s Hunter Vogels and Lamberjack (195) topped Garnet’s Ryan Mortimer in overtime. Hurley will see Owen J. Roberts’ Ryan Resnick next.
Downingtown East’s Lukas Richie (113) beat Upper Perkiomen’s Jared Kuhns to set up a date with Spring-Ford’s Brandon Meredith.
Oxford’s David Cox (170) got by Methacton’s Brendan Marion to get to William Tennent’s David McCoy and Avon Grove’s Kevin Edwards (182) and Josh Walls (285) are a win away from Hershey.
Spring-Ford’s Chase Smith is Edwards’ next opponent, while Walls will have to get through Neshaminy’s Kyle Osterhoudt.