HERSHEY >> Ridley’s Curtis Nelson and Haverford High’s Cole McFarland started things off with some flair and Kennett’s John Pardo and Bailey Shindle ended it the same, but in between it was a frustrating day for most Ches-Mont and Central League wrestlers.
While many of those league’s wrestlers were making second trips to the Class 3A PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, Thursday, the aforementioned quartet were the only returnees to advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
For the Kennett boys, their return trips proved fruitful, as Pardo (215 pounds) and Shindle (285) now have two chances to win one more match to clinch their first state medals.
Shindle cruised to a 7-2 win over La Salle College’s Andrew Brennan.
“I just needed to get the job done,” said Shindle, who gets Carlisle’s Layton Schmick, next. “I keep that 1-0 mentality and get to work with what I know.”
Pardo’s opener was a bit more taxing. The Kennett junior scored the first takedown in the first period but got rode out most of the second before tacking on a late takedown to knock off the Northwest Region champ, Mason Rebuck of Shikellamy, 5-3.
“I had to handle adversity and keep pushing,” said Pardo, who faces Waynesburg Central’s Eli Makel, next. “My goal’s to get on the podium and I can’t do that if I don’t push through.”
Nelson fought through some strife of his own. Leading against Wilson (West Lawn’s) McKaden Speece, Nelson hit a wall in the second. In the third, Speece nearly took Nelson to his back, but the Ridley sophomore was able to get a quick reversal and some near-fall points to advance with a 10-5 victory.
“I was gassed,” said Nelson, who gets Bethlehem Catholic star, Keanu Dillard, next. “I was really tired. I had to go after it and keeping pushing because I want to do a lot more.”
Unlike the other three quarterfinalists, McFarland knows what it takes to make his way to the podium after earning a fifth-place medal as a freshman. Just like last year, McFarland used his funky style to overwhelm his first-round opponent, this time, Shikellamy’s Alex Reed.
“I don’t think these kids can keep up with me,” McFarland said. “I’m always a step ahead. They don’t know what to expect from me because I could come out aggressive or I could let my defense become my offense.”
McFarland shook off some early angst and tilted Reed early before eventually pinning him to set up a quarter against 2021 state champion, Kaedyn Williams of Manheim Township.
“I’m not gonna lie, I was really nervous,” McFarland said. “I felt a little tired and knew I had to dig deep and him (Reed) away early so I can go out to eat and get to sleep early and be ready for the big one, (Friday).”
The Class 3A quarterfinals and second round of consolations will start at 2:15 p.m. Those who reach the semifinals clinch a top-six medal. Those who lose in the quarters need to win their consolation bout to place and those who begin their Fridays in consis need to win both of their matches to earn a trip to the podium.
From the Ches-Mont, Coatesville’s Andrij Szczesniuk (121), Sun Valley’s Hunter Delaney (127) and Brandon Carr (145), West Chester Henderson’s Carmen Cortese (133), Kennett’s Kane Lengel (133) and Josh Barlow (160), Oxford’s Austin McMillan (139) and West Chester East’s Max Parnis (145) survived day one and will start in the second round of consolations.
From the Central League, Conestoga’s Hayden McLellan (172) and Jake Allred (189), Strath Haven’s Sam Milligan (189) and Ben Farabaugh (285) and Garnet Valley’s Dylan Bledsoe (285) need to win two, Friday.
Kennett’s Zack Jaffe (121) and Blake Boyer (127), Conestoga’s Miles Warkentine (127), Harriton’s Nadav Nafshi (133), Chichester’s Blake Bryant (145), Unionville’s Topher Tryon (160) and Oxford’s Jeremy McKinney (189) were eliminated from the tournament with two losses.