Pope John Paul II’s Collins takes third at Southeast AA Regionals

WEST LAWN — Coming off his first loss of the postseason, and just his second of the year, Michael Collins wasn’t about to let it define his first-ever trip to the PIAA Class AA Southeast Regional Championships.

And if the results of his final two matches of the tournament were any indication of how much of an effect his 2-1 overtime tie-breaker semifinal loss to Lehighton’s Connor Frey had on him, Collins made his statement loud and clear that he was still a force to be reckoned with over the weekend.

Collins rebounded nicely on Saturday, picking up a fall in the consolation semifinals and a 9-0 major decision of Hamburg’s Ignacion Reynoso en route to a third-place finish at 182 pounds to secure his spot in next weekend’s PIAA State Championship at Hershey.

“Some people may think of it as a loss, but I think of it as a learning experience,’ Collins said. “You have to keep a positive mindset, and you know, if we meet next weekend in Hershey I know what I have to do, and hopefully, I can execute that, and maybe it will go a different way.’

Collins, who was dominant from the neutral position all weekend, got on Reynoso early, and although the two were tied at 0-0 after first period, he opened things up with a little under a minute to go in the second when he took Reynoso down and worked a tilt for two near-fall points to make it a 4-0 match.

Collins got a quick escape to start the third period to make it a 5-0 bout, and capped things off with a pair of takedowns to finish things off at 9-0.

“I was watching some of [Reynoso’s] earlier matches, trying to see what he does, and really all I could pick out was a double[-leg takedown] he had, so I shut down the double, and I was good for the match,’ Collins said. “I just executed the way I know how and got the win out of it, so that’s all that matters.’

“I think he knew Mike is pretty talented on top too, and I am sure he didn’t want Mike working his tilts and getting backpoints,’ Pope John Paul II head coach Jared Every said. “He came at Mike pretty aggressively too, so I think he had a gameplan, as well, but fortunately, it worked out for us.’

It was a much tougher start to the day for Collins in dropping his semifinal bout to Frey, who would go on to finish second.

Collins trailed Frey after two periods after letting him up early in the period. Frey repaid the favor in the third period, though, when he couldn’t keep Collins, who had chosen to start from the bottom, from scoring an escape to send the match into overtime.

After a scoreless first overtime period, Frey again scored an escape when Collins couldn’t hold him down to make it 2-1 with an overtime period to go. Collins again chose to start from the bottom position and looked to be on his way to an escape twice, but each time Frey kept him from getting away and held on for the win.

Collins’ match in the consolations semifinals was much easier, as he disposed of Palmerton’s Jarred Mooney for a second time in as many days, this time though, with a second-period fall (2:46) to send him to the third-place match.

Saturday morning’s wrestling also started well for Golden Panther 126-pounder Nick Yerger, who improved on his performance from a year ago after decking Lower Moreland’s Bruno Mariani in just 1:36. Yerger fell just one match short of the medal round though, when Panther Valley’s Darren Goida scored a 4-1 decision over the Pope John Paul II sophomore in the third round of consolations.

“Yerger is just one of our hardest workers,’ Every said. “Although he won’t advance, he really had a breakout year, so I am excited to see what we’re going to get from him the next two years.’

Golden Panther’s Nick Boyce (106) and Dave Mattiola (138) also saw their regional tournaments come to an abrupt end when each lost in their respective second-round wrestleback.

NOTES — Boiling Springs, which sent five wrestlers to championship bouts, and had another three on consolation finals, took the team title with 121.5 points. Bermudian Springs (90 points) was second, while Tri Valley (90), Saucon Valley (70.5) and District 3’s Bishop McDevitt (56) rounded out the top five. … Pope John Paul II finished in 25th with 21 points.

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