Burrell’s Hornack, Oswalt reach PIAA Class AA wrestling finals

Friday, March 12, 2021 | 12:47 PM

HERSHEY — Burrell’s Cooper Hornack achieved something he’s never accomplished on Friday. The freshman wrestler reached the finals in a state event.

Hornack and senior teammate Ian Oswalt advanced to the finals at the PIAA Class AA wrestling championships Friday at the Giant Center.

They will wrestle during the 5 p.m. session for state titles. The lightweights (106 to 138 pounds) competed in quarterfinals and semifinals in the morning session.

Hornack (28-2) took out returning PIAA champion Branden Wentzel, 4-3, in the quarterfinals at 106 pounds and then used a third-period takedown to edge West Branch’s Landon Bainey, 2-1, in the semifinals.

He will face Hickory’s Louie Gill, who he defeated at the West Super Region, for the title.

“It’s feels great,” Hornack said about making the finals. “The kids were really good. All my coaches and teammates pushed me hard and I want to win for them.”

Hornack said he encountered Bainey’s takedown attempt with a move he called the mouse trap where he trapped the opponent’s arm and got the takedown.

Oswalt (23-2) won two close matches. He needed overtime to squeeze past Montgomery’s Conner Harer in the quarterfinals, and then he used a first-period takedown to defeat Faith Christian’s Eric Alderfer, 2-1, in the semifinals.

He’ll face Glendale’s Brock McMillen in the finals. He’s lost twice to McMillen this season and five times in his career. McMillen is a two-time PIAA champion. He defeated Oswalt, 5-1, in the 2020 final.

“I have to wrestle my match, and if I do that I’ll come out on top,” Oswalt said. “That’s the game plan; everything before this was to prepare for the finals.

“It wouldn’t be a sweeter way to end my high school career than to beat a kid that I’ve lost to so many times.”

The other WPIAL wrestler to reach the finals is South Park senior Joey Fischer (23-0). He defeated West Perry’s Nolen Zeigler, 7-2, in the quarterfinals and then used an escape in overtime to nip Benton’s Gable Strickland in the semifinals. He’ll face Muncy’s Scott Johnson in the 126-pound final.

Fischer lost to Reynolds’ Gary Steen in the 2020 final.

“You have to show heart in these tough matches,” Fischer said. “That’s what I did. I was mentally focused and that’s why I won.”

Bentworth freshman Chris Vargo (113) and Beth-Center sophomore Kyle McCollum (132) are in the consolation rounds after losing in the early session.

The middle and heavyweight matches are underway at the Giant Center. The finals for 145-285 classes will be at 8 p.m.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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