HERSHEY >> At the state level, takedowns don’t come cheap, and even though Downingtown West’s Max Hale hasn’t found many yet, when he needed one most on Friday, he came through.
As the waning seconds ticked off the clock against Mariana Bracetti’s Angel Garcia in the 170-pound quarterfinals, Hale took his best shot and finished it to book his spot in Class 3A PIAA semifinals with a 3-1 win.
“I trusted my shot and knew if I kept pushing the pace, eventually (Garcia) would get tired and I’d get my two,” Hale said.
Moments later, one mat over, Unionville’s Tyler Mousaw (182 pounds) scored his first takedown of the tournament with two seconds left in sudden victory to earn his trip to semifinals, as well.
“It’s cool to know I can do that sometimes,” Mousaw said. “I wish I could’ve just won it without that problem.”
The pair’s quest for gold restarts at 9 a.m., Saturday, at the Giant Center in Hershey.
A spot in the semis guarantees a top-six medal, while two other locals in 3A — West Chester Henderson’s Killian Delaney (120) and Great Valley’s Ethan Seeley (195) – will try to fight back for third in the consolation bracket. Emmanuel Lawal (285) became Church Farm’s first state medalist and he will wrestle for seventh-place in the 2A tournament, beginning at 2 p.m.
All four of the returning state medalists for the Ches-Mont League, including Sun Valley’s Hunter Catka (220), clinched return trips to the podium, and Hale hopes to improve on his sixth-place finish as a sophomore.
He will face Canon McMillan’s Garrett Nijenhuis, who majored Hale in December.
“I’m just keeping a good mind and trusting in my wrestling,” Hale said. “I can beat anyone in the country, I think, if I wrestle my match.”
Mousaw’s quarter boasted more action, with Seymour outscoring him 6-5 in the third period to force bonus time. There, Mousaw fought off a few shots before finally sneaking around Seymour for the winner.
Mousaw became Unionville’s second two-time state medalist, joining Mason Popham, and will take on Mount Lebanon’s Luke Stout with the finals at stake.
“I gotta go out and wrestle hard and whatever happens, happens,” Mousaw said. “I gotta stay funky and see how it goes.”
After getting pinned in 95 seconds in his opener on Thursday, Seeley won three straight in the consis to become the first Patriot to earn hardware in a decade.
In the blood round, Seeley saw a familiar foe in Boyertown’s Jacob Miller, who had split decisions the prior two weekends. Seeley scored his first takedown in the series in the opening period and rode it to a 3-1 win.
“It feels the best because I wrestled Miller,” Seeley said. “Last week (in the regional finals) it was controversial, so I made a statement and hopefully that ends all that.”
Seeley’s next task will be much tougher with State College’s nationally ranked and top-seeded, Cole Urbas, who was upset by former Phelps School wrestler, Jameel Coles, now of Northeast.
There are no easy matches at states, as Delaney will tell you after having to tangle with Nazareth’s towering Sean Pierson. In a matchup of returning top-three state placers, Pierson, who took third last year, moved on with a 6-2 decision over Henderson’s returning runner-up.
Delaney bounced back with a second-period pin against Susquehanna’s Kody Evans.
“Every wrestling match is the same,” said Delaney, who has 70 career pins. “It doesn’t matter which bracket I’m in. Now I’m in the winner’s bracket for third place.”
He will face Manheim Central’s Will Betancourt, next.
Like Seeley, Lawal lost his initial bout and had to take the scenic route to the medal stand. In his first bout Friday morning, Lawal survived with a 7-6 win to set up a rematch of the regional finals against North Schuykill’s Ryan Weitz.
Lawal turned the tides, this time, dominating Weitz, 16-2.
“All I can say is, hard work pays off, because of coach (Art) Smith and (Tom) Johnstone and Ian (Weigand) and my two teammates up here, they prepared me for this,” Lawal said. “Without them I don’t think I would’ve won a match at all this tournament.”
In the evening session, Lawal was pinned and will wrestle for seventh.
The locals, as a whole, did not fair well in the consolations. Only three wrestlers won their bouts in the blood round, while Downingtown East’s Keanu Manuel (106), Hendersons’ Sammy McMonagle (113), Avon Grove’s Nick Barnhart (145) Church Farm’s Sebastian Corrales (160) and West’s Chase Mielnik (182) were eliminated there.
Losing one round earlier were West’s Dom Findora (106), Coatesville’s Nate Lucier (113), West Chester East’s Corey Celenza (126) and Andrew DiBernardo (170), Downingtown East’s Lukas Richie (132) and Oxford’s Sam Blevins (285).
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