Tourney provides fair share of drama
HERSHEY - The PIAA state tournament always has its share of side stories, and this year was no exception, beginning Thursday with the failure of Bethlehem Catholic's Jose Ortiz to make weight at 182.
The drama continued Friday, when defending state champion Nazar Mironenko (285) of Mifflinburg was disqualified after getting into some extracurricular activity during his consolation bout with Biglerville's Trevor Stover.
Also on Friday, Benton head coach Russ Hughes had to head home because of some family issues, and assistant coach Bryan Hart manned the helm.
FIRST AND SECOND: Bethlehem Catholic and Benton weren't hurt too much by the dramas with Ortiz and Hughes, finishing first and second, respectively, in the team standings with 86.5 and 64 points, respectively.
Bethlehem Catholic's Darian Cruz (120) won his second title, and Luke Karam (106) and Zeke Moisey were second. In addition to former Line Mountain wrestler Zain Retherford, who won at 138, Colt Cotten (145) was second for Benton. Becca had three consolation medalists and Benton two.
Both teams have been accused of recruiting but they're not alone.
Third-place team Saegertown, which is near the Ohio border, had a state champ in 106-pounder Devin Brown, a former Ohio state champ, and another medalist who transferred in from Cambridge Springs, near Edinboro.
And Trinity 126-pounder Ryan Diehl became a four-time state champ, two in Pennsylvania and two in West Virginia, where he still lives.
Line Mountain finished in a three-way tie for 24th in the team standings with Lewisburg and Chartiers-Houston with 22 points, and Southern Columbia was in a three-way tie with Moshannon Valley and Hanover for 35th with 15 points.
While we're at it, how tough is Pennsylvania wrestling? Fourteen teams ended up scoreless in AA, including some pretty well known wrestling schools such as Hamburg, Warrior Run and Wilson (District 11).
AREA KIDS: Overall, District 4 had two champs and four runners-up.
Besides Retherford, Milton 195-pounder Ryan Solomon claimed his second title with a 7-0 finals win over Chartiers-Houston's Garrett Vulcano.
Runners-up besides Line Mountain's Seth Lansberry and Cottn were Muncy's Troy Hembury (182) and Lewisburg's Brandon Smith (220).
A WAY TO GO: Southern Columbia freshman Blake Marks noted that one of his goals is to always do better than his dad, Tigers' head coach Jerry Marks.
He acknowledged that he has a way to go since Jerry was a four-time qualifier and two-time state champ.
But it was also pointed out to him that if he expected to match his dad's football achievements, he'd have to get football coach Jim Roth to give him the ball 30 or 40 times a game.