Pennridge's Josh Stillings, Palisades' Nathan Haubert capture state wrestling titles

by Drew Markol, The Intelligencer

Posted on March 11, 2018

Article originally appeared here:

HERSHEY - The past was part of the present on Saturday in Hershey.

For both Palisades junior Nathan Haubert and Pennridge senior Josh Stillings, it was about reaching their goals and ending some droughts.

Haubert, competing at 145 pounds, dominated on his way to capturing a PIAA Class AA title while Stillings did the same at 182 in Class AAA.

Both became their school's second PIAA champs. Andrew Povenski won at 171 in 1997 for Palisades while Dan Goetter (215 in 2005) was the Rams' lone state king until Saturday night.

"He (Povenski) sent me a message on Facebook this morning wishing me good luck," said Haubert.

"That was really cool. This is just an amazing feeling and it's been my goal since the beginning of the season. I'm just grateful to my family and coaches and so many people for all the help they've given me."

Stillings, a Drexel recruit, made his fourth and final trip to Hershey a memorable one. After three medals, including the runner up spot a year ago, he edged Albert Gallatin senior Tim Wallace 3-1 in the championship match. And, his reaction when the final buzzer sounded was priceless as the normally stoic Stillings pumped both fists and broke out in a huge grin.

"All of the hard work paid off," said Stillings. "Pennridge hasn't had the best of luck in state finals and I'm happy to end it for us. We all worked so hard in that room and this is just an amazing feeling. This is the biggest accomplishment of my life and it feels great."

Haubert (31-3) dominated Boiling Springs junior Kollin Myers 9-3 in their final. Fourth a year ago at the same weight, Haubert used four takedowns en route to his 102nd career victory. And, as usual, he went full bore from start to finish.

"I try and wrestle every match the same way," Haubert said. "I wrestled him last week (a 5-2 win in the Southeast Regional final) and knew I had to try and keep him away from my legs and I was able to do that. I just gave everything I had."

Stillings (31-1) built a 3-0 lead after two periods against Wallace, a third-place finisher here last year. After a Wallace escape midway through the third period, the two battled on their feet until the final whistle.

"I knew I had to get the first takedown,," Stillings said. "When I got that that gave me some confidence. I was really tense all weekend and to be able to do this is the greatest feeling in the world."

Four other area wrestlers brought home medals. Souderton junior Tyler Williams (132) leading the way by placing sixth.

North Penn junior Patrick O'Neill (160) placed seventh and senior teammate Ryan Cody (285) was eighth. William Tennent senior Yusuf Aladinov (195) was superb in his consolation final as he won by fall to finish seventh.

Williams could get nothing going against Penn-Trafford junior Nick Coy as he dropped a 3-0 decision in his consolation final.

"The first two days I really wrestled well, but today I didn't," said Williams, who missed all of last season due to a concussion.

"I started off with two really good matches (reaching the semifinals), but I needed to step up and wrestle better and I didn't do it. I need to learn from this and look at it as part of the path for next year with the ultimate goal being to win a state title. It feels good to get a state medal, but the focus is now on next year."

O'Neill took South Western sophomore Ethan Baney to his back to end the first period in his consolation final and then put him away for good just 14 seconds into the middle session with a reversal to his back for an impressive pin in just 74 seconds.

"I was just happy I was able to get the job done," O'Neill said. "Once I got him on his back I had it pretty tight and knew I would get it.

"The goal this season was to get to Hershey and get some hardware and it feels great to have done it. This is a real confidence builder for me and sets the bar high for next year."

Cody battled Roman Catholic senior Michael Leyland all the way before dropping a 1-0 decision in his consolation final.

"The goal was to come here and get a medal," Cody said. "It didn't end the way I wanted it to, but I went 0-2 here last year and I lost my first match this year and wanted to get a medal. I was happy I could battle back and get one."

The burly Aladinov turned Central Dauphin (South Central Region) senior Mitchell Talbott in the second period and put him away for his 100th career victory.

"I knew it was possible," said Aladinov. "I had some doubters. My friends were saying they were going to laugh at me if I finished with 99, so this was a great way to finish things off."

Notes: Jefferson-Morgan's Gavin Teasdale became the state's 13th four-time state champ when he won at 126 in Class AA on Saturday afternoon. Teasdale, who hails from the same high school as the legendary Cary Kolat, will wrestle at Penn State. He was named Outstanding Wrestler in Class AA. ... Nazareth's Sammy Sasso (145), a two-time state champ and four-time place-winner, was named the OW in Class AAA. He will wrestle at Ohio State. ... District One had four wrestlers in the Class AAA finals and two won: Stillings and Sun Valley sophomore Hunter Catka (220), who is the first state champ for the Vanguards.

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