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Central tops Mount Union at PIAA tournament

February 9, 2012 - Mitch Rupert

HERSHEY – Demetrius Starr is a fan-favorite whenever he steps on the mat. He’s not necessarily a coach favorite, because the unpredictable is the inevitable when the senior 145-pounder wrestles.

Central Columbia head coach Todd Cummings will take it after Thursday’s performance at the PIAA Team Wrestling Championships. Starr gave the Blue Jays a much-needed fall late in the match and Central won six bouts by five points or less in a 34-21 win over previously unbeaten Mount Union at the Giant Center.

The Blue Jays face Boiling Springs, a 31-30 winner over Reynolds, in the quarterfinals today at noon. Central Columbia won six of the first nine bouts during Thursday afternoon’s first round, but still held just a 19-15 lead when Starr took the mat at 145 pounds. The senior four-year starter saw an opening against Mount Union’s Derek Tress and took it. He hit a Churella tilt and took Tress right to his back to give Central the breathing room it so desperately needed.

The Blue Jays, making their first trip to the PIAA Team Championships, cruised from that point. Nick Fester beat Cory Kylor, a 25-match winner, rather handily at 160 pounds. And Kurt Meske added a decisive fall at 170.

“Even though I was very happy with the matches we were winning, we really didn’t have much of a lead,” Cummings said. “We just couldn’t get away. Demetrius putting us over the top was helpful.”

“We really needed it,” Starr said. “It’s tough to get pins down here. It just all depends on the person you’re wrestling, too.”

Central put itself in a position where one fall could make the difference with a strong performance early. Matt Hackenberg beat Darrian Stapleton (17-7 record coming in), 6-1. Eric McCracken added an 8-3 win over Kia House (21-6), and Alex Shiber had a 4-2, tie-break, decision over 16-7 Nikolas Smith.

The outcomes of those close bouts started quite the trend for the Blue Jays as Jesse Shannon knocked off previously unbeaten, and eighth-ranked, Ryan Wilson at 126, and Aaron Johnson had a 5-0 win over 23-7 Tyler Long at 138.

The six wins by five points or less was a drastic change from just one week ago when the Blue Jays lost eight bouts by five points or less in the District 4 final against Wyalusing.

“We just had some great performances,” Cummings said.

Shannon’s win over Wilson may have been the biggest of the day for the Blue Jays. Every time Central seemed to build a sliver of a lead, Mount Union would answer, first with a fall from Sage Moist at 106 to cut the Trojans deficit to 9-6. Then it was a fall from Kord Aurand to cut the deficit to 16-15.

But in the middle of that, Shannon helped the Blue Jays keep their pace. He was the aggressor against Wilson, a 2010 state qualifier who went 1-2 with losses to Zain Retherford and David Sheesley. He scored the first points of the bout in the second period when he got two points on a tilt. He made his lead, 3-1, in the third with an escape and Wilson, who entered 29-0, never could mount a serious offensive attack.

Central wrestlers stood at the edge of the mat and the coaches jumped to their feet as the final seconds of Shannon’s win ticked away.

“That was not one we were counting on. And it’s not that we don’t have faith in Jesse because we really do,” Cummings said. “I expected if he won that it would like he got a bar arm and got some big points going. But he really controlled the action. They weren’t pretty shots, but he kept shooting and he was the one who kept us in the game.”

“It was a big win for him and for us,” Starr said. “He’s come through when we needed him before. We had confidence he’d do it again.”

In all, Central beat eight wrestlers which had at least 16 wins coming into the tournament.

“I think you get to the point when you’re knocking off kids who have 25 wins with kids who maybe don’t have the accolades like that, you start believing it’s anyone’s game,” Cummings said. “And that’s the way you have to believe it.”

Central Columbia 34, Mount Union 21

106: Sage Moist, M, pinned Taylor Johnson, 1:09.

113: Lewis Williams, C, maj. dec. Tyler Foor, 13-1.

120: Dyln Knable, M, dec. Steve Shannon, 6-3.

126: Jesse Shannon, C, dec. Ryan Wilson, 3-1.

132: Kord Aurand, M, pinned Austin Miknich, 2:44.

138: Aaron Johnson, C, dec. Tyler Long, 5-0.

145: Demetrius Starr, C, pinned Derek Tress, 3:40.

152: Dylan Smith, M, dec. Mike Roosa, 7-2.

160: Nick Fester, C, dec. Cory Kylor, 5-3.

170: Kurt Meske, C, pinned Jeremy Hess, 3:07.

182: Phillip Kyle, M, dec. Jake Coombe, 10-5.

195: Matt Hackenberg, C, dec. Darrian Stapleton, 6-1.

220: Eric McCracken, C, dec. Kia House, 8-3.

285: Alex Shiber, C, dec. Nick Smith, 4-2, tb.

*Match started at 195 pounds

Records: Central (24-1); Mount Union (26-1).


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