HERSHEY >> When you get to this level, there are no easy matches. On Day One of the PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, area wrestlers had a tough go of it, with only three wrestlers winning their first match of the tourney.
Pennridge led the way, with Matt Parker (120) and Josh Stillings (160) finding it easy going in the round of 16. Joining Parker and Stillings in the quarterfinal round is Colin Shannon of North Penn (152).
Parker picked up the area's first win of the night, putting on a takedown clinic against Bethlehem Catholic's Zach Glenn. The Ram piled up six takedowns while cruising to a 16-6 victory. Up next for Parker is Chris Wright of Central Dauphin, the South Central Regional runner-up, who came into the state tourney with a record of 42-4.
Shannon jumped out to an early lead with a takedown and picked up points with a Merkle to pile up an early lead.
"I always try to get that early lead," said Shannon. "It changes the whole way you wrestle if you start the second period 0-0 or behind."
The Knights' 152-pounder tacked on a late takedown to win 9-0.
"It feels great to get the first win under your belt," said Shannon. "It takes a whole lot of stress off your shoulders, and you can relax a little before getting back at it tomorrow. It also just feels good to know you've wrestled well."
Shannon now squares off against Somerset's Austin Hemminger, and upset winner over South Central champ Brayden Wills of Mechanicsburg in his opening match.
At 160, Stilling notched the early lead, and turned into a titling machine. Stillings picked up three sets of near fall with tilts before putting the match away with a leg lace, a move more often seen in the Olympic style of freestyle than in American folkstyle.
"I was a little nervous coming in," said Stillings. "You're always a little nervous that first match here at states. But then I got going the way I wanted. By the time I got points with the lace, I think just about anything would have worked. He was down 13 and tired."
Up next for Stillings is Zach Hartman of Belle Vernon, the Southwest runner-up.
Marco DiBattista of Plymouth Whitemarsh (113), who rebounded with a 4-2 victory over Lucas Ritchie of Downingtown East in the first round of consolations.
La Salle senior Vincenzo Pelusi also bounced back after getting pinned by Montour's Roman Macek in the 285 first round by earning a pinfall over Roman Catholic's Matthew Galasso in 2:00.