They're still playing basketball and they're still swimming, but another wrestling season is over, just like that.
Maybe it's just me, probably not, but wrestling seems to come and go so quickly.
One minute we're talking about the Beast of the East before Christmas and the next minute we're driving home from Hershey.
It was, as it always is, three really good days in Hershey at the state tournament (although the crowd did look a little thin Saturday night for the Class AAA finals) with the state's best wrestlers putting on a show.
Before we get into some final observations, let's check the final prediction tally. After a 10-5 showing in Hershey (remember, we also picked Palisades junior Nathan Haubert to win in Class AA, which he did), the final championship tally for districts, regionals and states was a pretty good 32-10. I can live with that.
Now, some observations:
It's funny how things work sometimes. Heading into the state tournament, no Intel-area wrestler had won a state title since 2006 (Quakertown's Pat Flynn at 189 pounds). But, on Saturday, two Intel-area wrestlers, Haubert and Pennridge senior Josh Stillings (182), won state championships within six hours of each other. Kind of weird, but kind of cool, too.
Of the six Intel-area wrestlers to win state medals, three of them will be back. Souderton junior Tyler Williams (132) placed sixth, erasing all doubts about the concussion issues that forced him to miss his entire sophomore season, and North Penn junior Patrick O'Neill, who doesn't look flashy on the mat but just wins. O'Neill took seventh at 160. Add in Haubert, and that's a pretty good trio of returners for next season.
Two other seniors besides Stillings, North Penn's Ryan Cody (285) and William Tennent's Yusuf Aladinov (195), also reached the podium. Cody ended up eighth while Aladinov, sitting on 99 career wins entering his match for seventh, reached the century mark with a second-period pin. You're 100th win secures a state medal? That's tough to beat.
It's always just a subjective venture to pick the most impressive wrestler at states, but a good case can be made for Sun Valley sophomore Hunter Catka. He came into the tournament ranked seventh in the state at 220 by www.papowerwrestlingnews.com and came away with a state title. Along the way, he handed impressive Selinsgrove (District Four) freshman Nate Schon his first loss and knocked off 2017 state runner-up Ian Edenfield of Laurel Highlands (District Seven) in the semifinals before taking down Altoona (District Six) senior Parker McClellan in the finals. Not only is Catka Sun Valley's first state champ, he became the school's first regional champ two weeks ago. And he has two more years to go.
You have to feel a little bad for Jefferson Morgan (District Seven) senior Gavin Teasdale, who won his fourth PIAA state title Saturday to become just the 13th Pennsylvania wrestler in the 80-year history of the tournament to do so. Now, you say, how do you feel badly for a four-timer who is headed to Penn State to wrestle? Well, when you consider the state's all-time greatest wrestler, Cary Kolat, also went to Jefferson Morgan, you get the idea. As great as Teasdale is, and he's obviously really, really good, he's "only" the second best wrestler the school has produced. There are worse things, for sure. Of the 13 four-timers, six are from District Seven (suburban Pittsburgh). Neshaminy's Mike Pirozzola is the only District One wrestler to reach four state finals. He finished second as a freshman and sophomore and won as a junior and senior.