BY JEFF FISHBEIN
Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor expected District 3 champ Boiling Springs to push his team to the limit in Friday’s PIAA Class AA team wrestling quarterfinals.
And up to the end, it was a close one: Three matches went to overtime and the Lions carried a lead when the weight classes turned to the low end, but the Bubblers won four straight to end the quarterfinal round a winner, 32-25.
The day wasn’t over, and Chestnut Ridge didn’t let down – the District 5 champion took on the WPIAL’s best in Burrell, and it’s the Bedford County boys who get to stay in Chocolate Town for one more day. After giving four of the first five matches in their second-round consolation, Chestnut Ridge roasted the Buccaneers in a 34-25 finish that looks closer on paper than it did on the mat.
“The main thing is you want to make it day to day and keep competing,” Lazor said, and after the morning loss his team needed a comeback. They got it.
“We wrestled them very well from top to bottom – I’m satisfied with the win,” he said. “Burrell wrestled tough and we knew they would. They’re a very physical team.”
Burrell shared one trait in common with the Lions – both were dispatched to the lower bracket by District 3 teams. Runner-up Bermudian Springs beat Burrell in the opening round.
“District 3 might be the most solid district there is this year. The two teams that came from District 3 and one that stayed home were all very (high) quality,” Lazor said. “It’s tough to bounce back when you get your hearts broke. We were the same way in our quarters.”
Bradie Bollman kept the Lions from slipping too far out with a tech fall at 160, the third bout against Burrell.
Brad Winegardner won a one-sided decision at 195 before Dan Albright had a shot at redemption from the morning dual, pinning Burrell’s Tyler Horwatt to get his team within a point.
But Burrell didn’t get another team point until the clincher was wrestled – Chestnut Ridge made it seven in a row, with another pin and two majors, to build a 20-point margin before the last two matches went to the Buccaneers.
Aside from an untimely reversal given up by Trent Crouse – which could have kept Burrell alive had Crouse given up a fall – it was the same near-flawless effort the Lions had in the quarterfinals.
“We felt good with Crouse there but next thing you know he flops to his back for a second or two,” Lazor recounted. “It scared the crap out of us. You’ve got to be smart and you’ve got to be on your game the whole time. You relax for a moment and they’re going to jump on the opportunity.”
Against the Bubblers, Chestnut Ridge built an early lead on a major by Jerimiah Zimmerman and a Kyle Winegardner decision, but two overtime wins evened the score.
It stayed on a see-saw all the way, and Aaron Burkett set up his team’s chance to win it when he pinned Jonathan Day at 106, the second fall in a row for the Lions.
But a pin against Albright at 220 in a match he was controlling came back to haunt the District 5 team in the end.
“We’ve been bumping Dan up all year. He’s been wrestling 25 pounds over his weight most of the year,” Lazor said. “He’s always come through for us. I hate it for him because he took it to heart. It wasn’t by lack of effort, it wasn’t by anything he did wrong.”
Chestnut Ridge faces District 4 champion Central Columbia this morning at 9; the winner has to get past a dropping semifinalist in the last consolation round to guarantee a medal.