There were no state wrestling champions from Lower Bucks County this year. That doesn't mean there weren't plenty of feel-good stories to go around.
And, oh by the way, that state champion thing? Well, based on the number of area underclassmen that wrestled inside the Giant Center in Hershey, there could be one or two of them over the next one or two years.
Of the 18 area wrestlers to make it to the ultimate tournament in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, just four were seniors, and three were the feel-good stories.
Start with Harry S Truman's Alex Litz, who got better every year as he lifted his wins total each season from three as a freshman to 18 to 26 to 32 as a senior. He didn't medal, but Litz won a match at states and, even better, he said after his third-place finish at the district meet that he wanted to qualify for states in order to give teammate Gunnar Fuss company at the states. And Litz did just that when took third at regionals.
"Litz, that's a tough loss we take (for next year)," said Truman coach Jesse Dunn. "It really started to click for him, not only this year but these last few weeks. We wish we had him coming back."
Then there's Council Rock South's Ben Radner, who went to states as a freshman but had his sophomore season derailed by injury. As a junior, he went to regionals, but watched his season end there. His story is one of perseverance and, on Saturday night, it all paid off with a seventh-place medal.
"It was pretty awesome to get back here as a senior, win a regional title, get my 100th win, then finish out on the podium at states," said Radner, who got his 100th win in style, with a pin in the regional final in just 1:20.
Finally, there was William Tennent's Yusuf Aladinov. His final match is one he will remember forever, because he won with a pin. It was a pin that secured not only a seventh-place medal but also his 100th career win. He needed to win four matches at states and Aladinov did just that.
As for the future, well there were 14 underclassmen from the area who will return to take another swing at getting to states and doing better, led by the sophomore duo of Council Rock South's Kyle Waterman (106) and Council Rock North's Cameron Robinson (138), both of whom took fifth over the weekend.
"This feels good," said Robinson right after he received his medal on Saturday night. "I'm ready for next year, though. I know I can do better, just need to work a little harder."
"He's grinding, getting all that good experience," said Sheehy. "He's going to be a beast next year."
Waterman achieved beast status as a sophomore. Talk about improvement. Waterman spent much of his freshman year as a sort of swing wrestler in head coach Brad Silimperi's lineup, unable to fully break into the varsity lineup with Max Mendez ahead of him.
Waterman went 8-4 as a freshman then this year, when Mendez went up to 113 - becoming one of eight Golden Hawks to make states - Waterman went 44-6.
"It's great for our league, for our area," said Silimperi. "So hopefully we'll see all these guys back here. They got some experience, got a taste of it, they work a little harder and see what they can do."