By Drew Karpen
All season long the Saegertown wrestling team has shown it can compete with the best. The Panthers proved once again at the District 10 class AA championships at Sharon High School on Saturday that they are among the elite after finishing third in the team standings with 135 points. Jim Mulligan’s squad also wrote its name into the record books, finishing with three District 10 champions.
“The most we ever had in one district tournament was two in 1962, so to break a school record with the history we have at our school is amazing,” Mulligan said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling right now. It is a defining moment for this program.”
Devin Brown started the championship bouts off in impressive fashion, pinning Reynolds’ Seth Hogue in the second period. Brown entered the match as the No. 1 wrestler in the state in his weight class, according to Off the Mat. Hogue is ranked No. 14 in the state. Brown took an early 5-0 lead after the first round and then made his move. In the second period, Brown was able to cradle Hogue, resulting in the pin at 3:06.
“Total excitement,” Brown said about winning the district title. “I couldn’t think of a better move. At the time he was wide open so whatever is open I have to go after it.”
There wasn’t much of a layoff before the next Panther sought the gold medal. At 120 pounds, Saegertown sophomore Tyler Vath, ranked No. 2 in the state, went up against Matt Wheeler of Northwestern. Vath, a district champion last year at 106 pounds, came on strong late for a 10-6 victory. Vath fell behind 2-0 in the first, but he was able to use his quickness and agility to tire Wheeler out.
“It was one of my goals this year to get the district championship and it is just an awesome feeling to win it two times in a row,” Vath said. “I just wanted to keep the pace with him and keep my feet and hands moving fast.”
Dylan Reynolds completed the trifecta for the Panthers with a 7-3 decision over Reynolds’ Jamar Henry. Reynolds and Henry came into the contest ranked 10th and 11th, respectively.
Saegertown had a fourth competitor in the finals, but Matt Humes fell to Sharon’s Michael Bonner 14-5. The match was even at 2 entering the third, but Bonner rattled off six points in 42 seconds to take control of the match.
With the top six in each weight class advancing to the Northwest Regional next week at Sharon, the Panthers also advanced Bingbong Elizon, Nick Monico and Andrew Boylan. Elizon made it to the fifth-place match at 113 pounds before losing to Logan Gray of North East. Monico took third place at 126 with a 1-0 decision over Conneaut’s Kyle Lukowich. Boylan will also be back next week after finishing in sixth place at 160 pounds.
Saegertown was edged in the team standings for second place by Fort LeBoeuf, which tallied 139 points. Reynolds blew out the competition for the District 10 title with 204 points.
Bears’ Vargo crowned
In a battle of two local wrestlers ranked in the top 10 at 170, Union City’s Tim Vargo came out victorious over Cochranton’s Austin Andrews in overtime.
Vargo, ranked No. 6, and Andrews, No. 9, battled to the extra period where Vargo recorded a takedown for a 4-2 victory.
“It feels good,” Vargo said. “It was a fun match and it was tough and I am glad I came out on top. My job isn’t done yet. I have to come back next week and hopefully get a region medal and then move on to states.”
Vargo qualified for states last season.
The Bears had an opportunity for a second gold medalist with heavyweight Jeff Burger, who was the defending District 10 champion. But his opponent, Forrest Christmann of Slippery Rock, made sure that stayed in the past. The No. 3-ranked Burger and No. 6 Christmann met earlier in the season at the Hickory Tournament, where Burger edged his counterpart 2-1. Seeking his revenge, Christmann earned a 5-0 shutout.
Also advancing to regionals for the Bears were Dustin Tomcho at 126 pounds and Josh Reinke at 160.
Union City finished in seventh with 71 points.
Cards struggle in Day 2
At the beginning of the day, Cochranton was in prime position to lock up a district champ, sending four wrestlers into the finals. Not one of them was able to come away with the victory, though. Even with the end result, head coach John Svirbly was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We have seven going to regionals, which I think is the most Cochranton has ever had,” Svirbly said. “I couldn’t be happier with the way this team performed this weekend.”
Robert Boozer was the first Cardinal to be ousted in the final, falling 3-1 to ninth-ranked Levi Stoyer of Reynolds.
Ryan Northcott made the finals at 160 pounds after winning his first three matches of the tournament. In the finals, Northcott lost a 5-2 decision to Fort LeBoeuf’s Taylor Fox. The win was the 100th of Fox’s career.
At 170, Andrews lost to Vargo in overtime.
In one of the most anticipated finals of the night, Cochranton’s Cam Cyphert reunited with his rival Evan Daley of Fort LeBoeuf. Daley won the district title two years ago and Cyphert claimed the crown last year by defeating Daley. The two future Clarion University teammates have met numerous times over the past two years, including at this year’s Tool City Tournament, where Daley won in OT.
During Saturday’s meeting, Cyphert jumped out to a quick start with a 5-2 lead. Daley slowly started chipping away at the lead until he tied it up at 6, sending it to overtime.
In overtime, Daley backed Cyphert into a corner of the mat before finishing him off with a double-leg takedown for an 8-6 win.
Cochranton had three more wrestlers qualify for regionals in Nate Kline (113), Jared Morrison (126) and Caleb Peterson (152). Peterson picked up his 100th career win in his fifth-place match, a pin in 4:24 over Franklin’s Dakota Geer.
Cochranton finished in fourth place with 114 points.
Muskies, Sailors advance
Jamestown senior Nick Floch had a stellar run in the districts, advancing to the finals to face Seneca’s Adam Fish. The big difference between the two — their age. Fish, a freshman, was not phased by Floch’s experience, defeating the senior 6-4 in overtime.
The Muskies advanced four total wrestlers, with Faris Messai (106), Seth Thurber (138) and Jason Shappee (195) moving on to next week.
Jamestown finished in 10th place with 53 points.
Lakeview advanced three of the five wrestlers who entered the district tournament with senior Evan Clayton, junior Sam Breese and sophomore Marquis Spence making the cut. Breese made it the farthest for the Sailors, winning third place at 285 pounds.
“I am excited for those guys,” Lakeview coach Tom Tingley said. “They get to move on and compete in regionals. Whether we finish first or sixth, we are still going.”
Tigers, Eagles stay alive
It wasn’t the most productive week for Maplewood and Conneaut, but they will have a chance to come back next week.
“We just had a bad weekend,” Maplewood coach Matt Wilcox said. “It was the wrong weekend to have one. We have three guys going to regionals and I am ecstatic about that. They are wrestling well and they just can’t quit.”
In a surprise, both Jake and Jeremy Parsons were knocked out in the consolation first round. Advancing for the Tigers were Daniel Simmerman with a sixth-place finish at 120, Zak Dennis, who finished sixth at 132, and Isaiah Stearns with a fifth-place finish at 182.
Conneaut entered the weekend with six wrestlers but left with only two advancing.
After losing in the semifinals on Friday to Sharon’s Jarray Norris, Lukowich worked his way through the consolation bracket for a fourth-place finish. Taylor Ellis is also moving on for the Eagles. After losing is first match of the tournament, Ellis also worked his way through the consolation rounds for a fourth-place finish.
Other notable winners
Reynolds’ Austin Matthews completed the rare feat of becoming a four-time district champion. Matthews won the 152-pound title with a 14-3 major decision over Blake Horne of Greenville.
At 113 pounds, Michael Bartolo of Reynolds defeated No. 14 Cody Buchanan of Sharon with a 6-4 decision.
Norris won his second straight District 10 title at 126 pounds with a 12-3 major decision over Mason McCollum of Reynolds.
Trevor Beiter made it two District 10 champions for Seneca with his pin of Ryan Morris of Corry in 1:34.