Kiski Area quartet advances to PIAA Class AAA wrestling quarterfinals
Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | 1:30 AM
HERSHEY — No victory at the PIAA wrestling championships comes easily, and Cam Connor’s face bore the evidence of that Thursday.
An inadvertent head butt from Waynesburg’s Luca Augustine, his first-round opponent, opened a cut underneath Connor’s eye and forced a brief medical stoppage.
But despite the injury and a second nip-and-tuck battle with Augustine in less than a week, Connor scored a takedown with five seconds remaining in sudden-victory overtime, earning a hard-fought 3-1 decision and advancing to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAA tournament at Giant Center.
“I knew it was going to be tough going in,” Connor said. “Usually the first match is tough for some reason. At least for me, I always have a tough time in that first one. Getting it out of the way is nice. Coming in tomorrow, if I win that (quarterfinal) match, I’ll only have one match tomorrow. So I’ll try to stay rested up as much as I can.”
Kiski Area brought four wrestlers to Hershey, and all four — Connor (152), senior Darren Miller (126) and juniors Jack Blumer (160) and Nick Delp (170) — advanced to Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinal round.
Connor’s match featured the most drama. The senior outlasted Augustine, 3-2, in the WPIAL semifinals last week, the closest match he wrestled in his path to the title, and the rematch proved just as close.
After a scoreless first period, Connor escaped in the second to take the lead. Augustine escaped in the third to tie the score — and as he did so, the back of his head caught Connor flush in the face. Officials checked Connor for a concussion on the mat, and after getting the go-ahead to keep wrestling, he got his winning takedown at the edge of the mat late in overtime.
“It’s just hard to score on him when he’s knowing what I’m going to do and I know what he’s going to do,” Connor said. “Thank God I got that takedown because it would have (stunk) to take a loss the first day.”
Connor was checked for a concussion again after his match and said he was cleared to wrestle Friday. He had a bag full of ice, which he was using to slow the swelling of his injury.
Delp said he got caught “flat-footed” early in his round-of-16 match against Bradford’s Dillon Keane, resulting in an early Keane takedown, but he recovered to earn a 6-3 decision and move on to the quarterfinals.
“He caught me sleeping a little bit in the first,” Delp said. “My coaches were trying to tell me don’t be as heavy on your feet because I was … I think that was the nerves, and once they told me to stop being flat-footed, I kind of calmed down a little bit and focused on that match.”
Blumer and Miller both advanced with pins.
Miller started the round of 16 strong for the Cavaliers, using a pair of takedowns and nearfalls in the first two periods against David Krokowski of Wyoming Valley West before getting his pin off a third-period reversal.
“I got a good sweat,” Miller said. “He’s a tough opponent. Anyone here is tough. You can’t get any easy opponents, so I feel like I wrestled pretty well to be scoring that many points.”
Blumer came out firing against North Penn’s Patrick O’Neill, getting a takedown 18 seconds into their match and eventually turning it into a pin. The junior tied Chad Kuhn’s school record for pins in a season with his 33rd.
“I felt like I went out there and actually went after it,” said Blumer, who like Connor won a WPIAL title last week. “I didn’t wait for him to do anything. “I went after my attacks and got on top, which I think is my best position. It’s where I want to be every match.”
The Class AAA tournament resumes at 2:15 p.m. Friday with quarterfinals, with winners advancing to Saturday morning’s semifinal round.
“I knew it was going to be a tough one, and heading into tomorrow, I’m not going to be as nervous,” Connor said. “(I’ll) get a good night’s sleep tonight … and come in tomorrow, get to my shots early and often, build a lead and not have to worry about going into overtime and stuff like that.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
Tags: Kiski School
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