Pope John Paul’s Collins — “It turned out the best’

HERSHEY — Michael Collins’ final match at the 2015 PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships did not result in a victory.

But the Pope John Paul II High senior certainly enjoyed his first weekend under the lights of Pennsylvania’s biggest wrestling tournament.

And when the Panthers’ 182-pound senior clutched his fourth-place medal late Saturday afternoon at the victory podium of Hershey’s Giant Center, he did so as the best wrestler in the school’s short wrestling history.

“It’s a huge achievement,’ Collins said, “and it’s beyond anything I expected.

“Coming to PJP, I didn’t know what to expect. I went in with an open mind, and it turned out for the best.’

Collins didn’t get off to a flying start in his first and only Hershey visit. He dropped his initial match on Thursday, and was facing a win-or-go-home scenario until he topped TJ Cistrunk of E.L. Meyers in the third round of consolations Friday.

With a medal assured, Collins refused to be satisfied, and won his next two consolation matches Friday evening to set up his match with Colton Dull of Bermudian Springs.

He came up short, dropping a 1-0 decision. But nothing was short about Collins’ weekend.

“There was really nothing I could do about it,’ he said about the 3-4 match verdict. “I went into the match with a positive attitude. I felt I had a good chance to win. But I just couldn’t get off bottom.’

In the bout’s closing seconds, Collins got in deep on a shot and was justthisclose to a takedown, but did not get the call from the mat official.

“I thought I had it, but the referee felt differently,’ he said.

Collins has aspirations of wrestling collegiately, with the University of Scranton his leading suitor.

“It’ll be nice to get the college experience,’ he said. “I’m just going to try and get stronger now, and see what comes.’

As for the high standard he has now set at PJP, he’s hopeful that standard is surpassed soon.

“I’m looking forward to the future of the program,’ he said. “We definitely have the right coaches in place, hopefully we can get some of the right guys in the (practice) room.’

As for his state stay, Collins already was filing away future and pleasant memories.

“I took it one match at a time, and it obviously paid off for me,’ he said. “It was just great coming up here and being in the same room with some of the best wrestlers in the state.

“It was an honor.’

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