HERSHEY >> A year ago, wrestling as a 106-pound freshman for Faith Christian, Eric Alderfer made his first trip to Hershey for the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships but fell a win short of the medal stand. Alderfer is back this year, wrestling at 120, and was the lone Lion to advance to the quarterfinal round.
"My first goal is still there for me," said Alderfer. "Everyone that comes here sets a goal of gold, but the first goal I'm looking to reach is getting to the semi-finals, so I am guaranteed to leave here with a medal"
In Thursday's opening round, Alderfer, who finished third at last weekend's Southeast Regionals, squared off against Roland Mills of Huntingdon, the Southwest Region runner-up.
Mills was the aggressor early, getting in on a leg attack on Alderfer. Alderfer calmly wriggled his hips free, locked up a front headlock, and spun behind for the opening takedown. The Lions sophomore escaped to start the second period then tacked on another takedown. Mills chose neutral to start the third, but Alderfer used the opportunity to score this third takedown of the match and won 7-0.
"You just try to stay physical and not sweat the small stuff," said Alderfer. "It really helped that I've been here before. I wasn't too nervous at all. I just have to keep going, wrestling may match and getting them one at a time."
There was never a time where Alderfer wasn't in complete control and Mills never even came close to scoring.
"He's always very comfortable on his feet," said Faith Christian Coach Ben Clymer. "And he's very tough on top. That was a great start to his tournament."
Up next for Alderfer is a quarterfinal scuffle with Eisenhower's Logan Jaquay, the Northwest Regional champ who sports a record of 38-1 on the year.
Though Alderfer was the lone Lion to win his opening match and move on to quarterfinals, five Lions made the trip to Chocolate Town. In addition to Alderfer, Faith Christian qualifiers included A.J. Slayton (113), Max Schultz (152), Damon Waltenbaugh (170) and Leo Muzika (195).
It was a rough first trip for the freshman Slayton, who was eliminated after two losses by fall.
Schultz managed to score a third period escape and takedown in his opening round match against Forest Hills' Ryan Weyandt, but it wasn't enough as Weyandt held on for a 9-3 victory. Schultz was eliminated when he was pinned by Seneca's Owen Jefferson in consolations.
Waltenbaugh dropped his opener 13-5, falling to Greenville's Cole Karpinski, the Northwest runner-up. Dropped to the consolation bracket, Waltenbaugh's tournament came to an end with a 13-4 defeat at the hands of Meyersdale's Drake Gindlespreger.
Muzika notched the first takedown of the match, scrambling for two against Austin Dull from Bedford in his preliminary round bout, but Dull battled back strong and won going away, 10-2. Muzika lost a heartbreaker in his consolation. Having battled back from behind to take a 5-4 lead with a takedown late in the third period, Muzika was eliminated when Mt. Carmel's Damon Backes was able to score a reversal in the final 20 seconds.
"I couldn't be more proud of these guys or happy for them that we brought five guys to states this year," said Clymer. "But I also can't help feel like we let a few opportunities get away from us."