Pennridge’s Parker, Stillings, North Penn’s Shannon still alive for PIAA gold

HERSHEY >> Fridays at the PIAA wrestling championships are an emotional roller coaster. For many, a win means knowing you’re coming home with a medal around your neck. But for even more, failing to notch that one extra win means your season, or your career, is over.

For the local contingent, Pennridge’s Matt Parker (120) and Josh Stillings (160) are joined by North Penn’s Colin Shannon (152) in the semifinal round, hopes still alive for a state title.

La Salle’s Vincenzo Pelusi (285) won a pair of consolations matches to guarantee a medal finish.

Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Marco DiBattista (113), and, in Class AA, Bishop McDevitt’s Nasir Pettus, saw their tournaments come to an end.

DiBattista fell 4-0 to Kenny Herman of Bethlehem Catholic, while Pettus came away on the wrong end of a 1-0 score again Thomas Cook of Brookville.

Parker kicked off action in the quarterfinals, squaring off against Central Dauphin’s Chris Wright. Parker notched an early takedown, the rode Wright out the rest of the way.

“I probably should have cut him earlier and put more points on the board,” said Parker. “That’s more my style. But it was good to know I could ride someone out if I have to. I feel like I’m wrestling well, but I’m going to need to open up again the further I go here.”

Pennridge’s Matt Parker wrestles Central Dauphin’s Chris Wright in the Class AAA 120 quarterfinals at the PIAA Championships on Friday, March 10, 2017. (Bill Rudick/For Digital First Media)

Pennridge coach RP Norley agreed.

“We were telling him to cut him an keep piling up takedowns, but he said he thought he could turn him, so we let him go for it,” said Norley. “But his style is to rack up points on his feet. He is hard to stop on his feet, so we want him in that position for as much of a match as we can.”

Standing between Parker and a second straight berth in the championship finals is Luke Werner of Liberty, the Northeast regional runner-up.

This year marked the third time that Shannon had qualified for the state tournament, but the Knights’ 152-pounder came up empty in the previous two previous trips to Hershey. Not so this year.

Shannon opened the scoring with an escape and takedown in the second period, then survived some crazy scrambles in the third period, and stayed on top the rest of the way, guaranteeing he can finish no worse than sixth.

“It feels amazing,” said Shannon. “This is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It feels like all the hard work is finally paying off.”

Up next for Shannon is Penn Trafford’s Cameron Coy, a defending state champ.

Stillings secured a second-straight medal with a come-from-behind victory over Bell Vernon’s Zach Hartman. Stillings opened the scoring with a takedown in the waning seconds of the first period, but saw the lead vanish when Hartman got an escape and takedown in the second.

Pennridge’s Josh Stillings locks in against Belle Vernon’s Zach Hartman during their Class AAA 160 quarterfinal at the PIAA Championships on Friday, March 10, 2017. (Bill Rudick/For Digital First Media)

Down to start the third, Hartman rode tough, and still held the lead with less than twenty seconds to go. Stillings worked to his feet, and hit a standing granby, forcing scramble out of which Stillings came up on top for the reversal, and the win.

“This was a big match for me,” said Stillings. He (Hartman) is a strong, tough kid. It was just heart, I think, that got me through that at the end and gave me the win. But now I just have to get ready for semis. It’s great to see District 1 representing with me and (Owen J Roberts’ Ryan) Resnick both in semis.”

Stillings will have to get past Penn Manor’s Jonah Barley, the South Central champ and also a returning medalist, to keep his hopes for gold alive. But the Rams brought two wrestlers, and both are in semi-finals.

“So we’re four wins away from two golds,” said Norley. “I think both kids showed a lot of heart in their last matches to come out ahead in tight matches. I couldn’t be more proud of these two.”

Pelusi opened his day with a win over Northeastern’s Blaine Yinger. Tied 1-1 late in the third, Pelusi took advantage of a leaning Yinger, hitting a snap and spin behind for the 3-1 victory. The La Salle big man then won his blood round match, 7-2 over Cameron Tinner from Shippensburg to earn a spot on the podium.

Top Photo: North Penn’s Colin Shannon is fired up after his victory over Somerset’s Austin Hemminger in the Class AAA 152 quarterfinals at the PIAA Championships on Friday, March 10, 2017. (Bill Rudick/For Digital First Media)

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