Perspective can be a tricky thing in athletics.
Just ask Richland’s Nico Pecora and Bedford’s Jon Gabriel.
On Saturday afternoon, each of them took center stage at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships. It’s a position that thousands dream of but few get a chance to experience.
But, falling short in such a situation – as both Pecora and Gabriel did – can be difficult to handle.
“Right now it’s tough to be happy,” Pecora said after his 12-3 loss to Kane’s Evan Delong in the 170-pound title match. “(The pain) will eventually go away.”
Gabriel, who lost 5-0 to Bethlehem Catholic’s Luke Karam at 113 pounds, shared the sentiment.
“Later on I’ll probably be pretty happy about it,” the sophomore said with tears in his eyes. “Right now, not so much.”
Richland coach Mike Naglic was able to look at it in a different light.
“Sometimes we forget and we get down (about) the big loss,” Naglic said. “Pennsylvania runner-up in the toughest state in the country for wrestling. You get over the initial sadness of the loss (and see) it’s a huge, huge accomplishment for him.”
Neither was a favorite coming into the tournament – Gabriel was fourth in the Southwest Regional tournament while Pecora was third – but each wrestled well in Hershey, winning his first three matches before losing on Saturday.
Delong scored a takedown just six seconds into his match with Pecora and was up 8-1 by the end of the first period. Another takedown in the second period – his third of the match – gave the Kane wrestler a nearly insurmountable 10-1 lead. Pecora, who won a pair of overtime matches on Friday, pushed the action in the third, but it wasn’t enough against Delong.
“He’s a good, quality, stud wrestler,” Naglic said of Delong. “There’s no two ways about it.”
Eventually Pecora, who said he might play football or baseball in college instead of wrestle, was able to find some perspective about his performance in the tournament.
“You always want to get to the top,” he said. “Sometimes you aim for the moon and hit the stars.”
Gabriel was impressive on his way to the finals, notching a technical fall and a pin among his three wins, but he knew he’d have a tough time against Karam, who beat him 11-0 earlier this season.
This time, Karam scored a first-period takedown for a 2-0 lead. He escaped in the second and took Gabriel down to make it 5-0. Gabriel was able to get in on Karam’s legs a few times but could not finish for a takedown.
“I wrestled tough,” he said. “I couldn’t pull out the win, but I feel like I wrestled good.”
Unlike Pecora, Gabriel will have a chance to get back to the state finals. He plans to use the experience of finishing second as motivation.
“Last year I didn’t even make it and it didn’t hurt near as bad as this year,” Gabriel said. “I feel like I’m going to come back with two times the fire.”
Perspective can be a tricky thing in athletics.
- High School Sports
McCort pitcher wins May Award
Bishop McCort High School’s Brad Coleman earned the May Point Stadium Award nomination based on his performance in a District 6 Class A playoff victory on May 22.
Coleman pitched a seven-inning, complete game in a 7-2 win over Homer-Center in the 6-A semifinal round. With the win, McCort clinched its fourth consecutive state tournament playoff berth.
Richland pole vaulter decides on Red Flash
Maddison Feather has sailed to great heights throughout her scholastic career at Richland High School.
Feather – a pole vaulter – takes away a District 6 title and an appearance in the PIAA championship meet from her senior season with the Rams.
Area players get PHSBCA nods
Brad Coleman and Alex Sobecky were part of an amazing four-year run by the Bishop McCort High School baseball team.
Jack Shirk is an underclassman who stood out on a Richland squad that also has been one of the best in the LHAC in recent seasons.
Cory Isenberg | Big numbers posted all around in Lantzy game
The South’s 48-18 victory over the North in Friday night’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game was an entertaining evening of football for the reported crowd of close to 4,500 at Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium.
The point total for the Rebels equaled the output of the South squad in the 30th edition of the game but is behind the 51 scored by the Yankees in the 1992 contest and the 50 points tallied by the South in the 39th game.
Local stars shine in Ken Lantzy Finest 40 game
While the Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Game brings football standouts from across the region to Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium, Friday night’s contest took on a distinct Richland flavor as the South toppled the North 48-18 in the 44th edition of the summer football contest.
Former coach honored for long service
The venerable Jerry Page, former coach of Laurel Valley, always preached that football was so much more than just a game.
Page, whose son Greg of Homer-Center was the North squad coach Friday at the 44th Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game, was honored prior to the start of the game.
North offense shows big gains during Lantzy practices
As the North offense prepared for tonight’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game at Trojan Stadium on the campus of Greater Johnstown High School, tightening up issues with timing and terminology was at the top of the unit’s to-do list.
If the North’s offense takes the field and operates with machine-like precision tonight, it can thank the intersquad scrimmage on Tuesday as the breakthrough point of the group’s progress during the week.
Three quality quarterbacks bolster South’s chances in Lantzy Game
The South squad has an impressive arsenal of offensive talent on hand for Friday’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Game, set for 7 p.m. at Trojan Stadium.
The Rebels have three skilled quarterbacks on the roster who have combined for nearly 5,000 yards passing and another 2,000 yards on the ground.
South changes defense after last year’s loss
After being thrashed 41-7 last year by the North, the South is hoping to rise again as it prepares for Friday’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Game set for 7 p.m. at Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium.
On defense, those plans will evolve around the change in defensive schemes that has been instituted with teams now required to run a 4-3.
North defense happy to get back to contact as Lantzy game approaches
It’s been a while since organized live contact on the football field has been a concern for anyone suiting up to play in Friday’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game at Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium.
Talking to members of the North defensive unit, that long wait came with a satisfying end on Monday when teams went into contact drills in the week-long preparations for the 44th edition of the region’s football showcase.
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- McCort pitcher wins May Award