HERSHEY >> The swan song to his storied high-school career didn’t play out the way Jakob Campbell had envisioned.
But it couldn’t overshadow how the last four winters went for the Boyertown senior.
Campbell went into Saturday evening’s Class AAA medal round of the PIAA Championships in position to place third for the second time in three visits to the Giant Center for the state’s individual competition. The quest ended with a 5-2 loss to Bethlehem Catholic’s Ryan Anderson, yet still with the highest medal of the five area wrestlers who qualified for the medal round.
“It’s a nice accomplishment,” Campbell said. “There are a lot of people for whom I’m happy about this”
Campbell (39-6) had a number of “fourpeats” to accompany his program-first four state qualifications. He won four Pioneer Athletic and District 1-AAA West titles, scored four South East AAA Regional medals — highlighted by his championship finish this year — and 154 career wins, tying him for ninth place on the Mercury coverage area’s all-time chart.
“My dream to get here … that was it,” Campbell said. “Getting to three states before this, I couldn’t have imagined it.”
Anderson got the upper hand on Campbell with a first-period takedown. Jakob managed a second-period escape from a bottom start, but Anderson decided the outcome with an escape and takedown in the third period.
“I knew he was tough. He beat me last year,” Campbell recalled. “He wrestled a better match.
“I knew what he did. I just didn’t execute. Now I have to go back to the drawing board.”
Teammate Matt Wilde pulled off a unique double play in the 113-pound bracket’s fifth-place bout. His 6-4 decision of Stroudsburg’s Cameron Enriquez netted the Bear senior both his first state-level medal, and the 100th victory of his scholastic career in his high-school finale.
“Getting 100 is awesome,” Wilde said. “Now I’m going to sit back and watch my teammates. Right now, I’m going to hang out.”
Wilde (47-5) opened with a first-period takedown, then escaped from a bottom start in the second period before scoring another takedown en route to a 5-1 lead. Enriquez turned a similar trick to start the third, but Wilde got loose for insurance in the decision.
I think the takedown with 30 seconds left was big,” he recalled. “I just grabbed and held on to his wrist.”
Ryan Resnick found his fifth-place medal at 160 a satisfying cap to his scholastic career. His 4-2 decision of Chambersburg’s Luke Nichter left the Owen J. Roberts senior with a happy finish to his second individual state-tournament visit, one that saw him get as far as the semifinal round before a pair of losses — the second to North Allegheny’s Eric Hong, who he upended in their previous go-round Thursday — earlier in the day.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Resnick (43-5) said. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears over the last couple years.
“It was nice to finally make the trip my senior year. Now I start a new chapter at Tennessee-Chattoonga … looking to make strides, become an All-American.”
Elijah Jones rounded out Boyertown’s medal-round contingent by claiming the fifth-place medal at 182. He did it in dramatic fashion, wrestling Penn Trafford’s Matt McGillick 1-1 in regulation before deciding the matter emphatically with a pin 54 seconds into the overtime frame.
“It would have been nice to not go overtime,” the Bear junior (47-8) said. “It definitely makes my season. I’m hoping for great things next year … to keep going, wrestle my match.”
Jones’ win owed itself to his response to McGillick’s attempted shot of an inside single.
“I got a let over him,” he recalled. “He tried to jump me, but I was able to get the cradle on him.”
Nick Duliakas ended up sixth at 195, closing out his senior campaign with a 30-9 record. It was validation of his decision two months ago, after taking a month-long break from the sport, to return.
“It was a joy the way he came back,” head coach Steve DeRafelo said of Duliakas, medalling in his first trip to the state tournament. “He has so much to be proud of. I didn’t want him to ask ‘what could have been.’ It’s a tough thing to have to do, and I’m glad he didn’t have to live it.”
Boyertown’s 10th-place finish in the team standings capped Pete Ventresca’s final season as the program’s head coach. The last on-mat action of his 14-year tenure in the program was to be in the corner for Jones’ OT win.
“I had a great time coaching here,” he said. “The Boyertown people are great, the kids are great, I had great assistants. I enjoyed my time here, and the kids.”
Looking back on the Owen J. season, DeRafelo saw the weekend as a “microcosm” of how the entire winter went for it.
“The kids did things they weren’t expected to do,” he said. “Ryan winning his first state medal, Nick getting to the semifinals … the kids did what they weren’t expected to do. They were fun to be with.”