SPRING GROVE — In the realm of the District Three Class 3A individual tournament, underestimate the Lancaster-Lebanon League at your peril.
Five L-L League wrestlers were crowned District Three/Southcentral Region champions Saturday at Spring Grove, and 11 out of the 29 who entered the competition advanced to next weekend’s PIAA West Super Regional tournament at Altoona High School.
The golden quintet of Manheim Township’s Kaedyn Williams (106) and Kamdyn Williams (113), Lebanon’s Griffin Gonzalez (132), Hempfield’s Reagan Lefevre (145) and Penn Manor’s Colt Barley (189) is the best showing, title-wise, since 2001, when seven L-L League wrestlers brought home gold.
Fueled by the Williamses, runner-up Aliazer Alicea, bronze medalists Josh Hillard and Kevin Olivarria and fourth-place finisher Cade Clancy, Township made a run at the team title, falling a point short to defending champion Central Dauphin, 94-93.
The Rams mined gold with Matt Repos (126) — who blanked Alicea 7-0 — Josh Miller (138), both of whom won their second titles, and Bryce Buckman (152), and will send four wrestlers on to Altoona.
The Kaedyn Williams-Dom Flatt series at 106 pounds is up to its third sequel, as for the fourth time this season they faced off across the inner circle. And, for the fourth time this season, Williams got the better of Solanco's senior, this time 4-3.
Flatt draws closer with each endeavor, but Williams, after striking for the initial takedown, used escapes at the end of the first period and the top of the second to provide the winning margin.
“That whole third period I was just focused on getting the W,” he said. “He’s very quick. I knew how easily he could get a takedown, so I was playing smart.”
After tasting victory in his highly anticipated semifinal match with Cedar Cliff’s Aiden Lewis, one couldn’t blame Kamdyn Williams for seeing his finals win over Carlisle’s Travis Clawson, 4-1, as anti-climactic.
“Yeah, definitely anti-climactic,” Williams said. “Coming off a big win, I was tired, but he’s (Clawson) a tough kid. It was hard to get off my attacks.”
Up 2-0 in the third period, Williams reversed Clawson with just under a minute left to gain room for error and closed out the victory.
The semifinal with Lewis was as good as advertised, with Williams claiming a 9-7 decision.
At the outset, Williams rolled through a Lewis headlock to take a 2-0 lead and Lewis reversed into a four-pointer. With the wrestlers neutral in the second period, Williams locked double over-hooks — some would call it a cement job, some a gator roll, Williams calls it the clutch — and rolled Lewis into a five-point takedown.
Coming at a key moment, it gave Williams a 7-6 lead.
“That’s why I call it the clutch!” he said with a smile.
In the third period he scored two back-points, countering Lewis’ granby roll, then allowed a late reversal.
With a 4-1 win over Cumberland Valley’s Kyle Miller, Gonzalez becomes Lebanon’s first district champion since Bob Bickleman in 1975. Gonzalez got the initial takedown at the start of the match and, just over a minute later, got back-points as he stopped Miller’s switch try.
“He kind of hit a switch on me,” Gonzalez said. “I really wasn’t expecting it. I kind of hipped into him, stepped over and he got stuck on his back.”
After a pair of losses to CD’s Kyle Garvick in the space of six days, Lefevre adjusted his plan of attack, with an eye on scoring from neutral and avoiding danger down on the mat.
“I stayed out of his scrambles,” said Lefevre, who also credited slowing down his pace in the match, avoiding burning all his fuel before the end.
“Last few matches, I came out a little too fast,” he said.
Ironically, Lefevre’s match-winning points came in a scramble. Up 4-3 with just over a minute to go, Lefevre countered a Garvick shot and as they dropped to the mat, Lefevre trapped Garvick on his back for the takedown and two back-points.
Garvick would close to 8-6 with a meaningless takedown at the end.
For Barley, his 1-0 nod over Dallastown’s Brooks Gable was a sweet turnaround as well, after a 6-4 loss in early January — Barley’s only blemish.
“I had a little chip on my shoulder this time,” Barley said.
After a scoreless first period, and a quick flurry with Barley on bottom to start the second, Gable opted to let Barley out, never thinking it would be the only point of the match.
Taking nearly all of the shots in the period, Barley carried the narrow advantage to the third period when Gable would be on bottom. Barley held him there the entirety of the final two minutes, flirting with running his signature arm bar, before collecting his victory.
“I got the bar in,” he said, “I thought I could run it, but, it’s hard to decide if I want to risk it and maybe get reversed.”
Repos, who defeated Alicea 3-0 for the section title last weekend, never allowed Alicea to establish an offense, scoring takedowns in the first and second periods, tacking back-points on to the second takedown.
Hillard rallied from a 10-2 semifinal loss to eventual 120-pound champion Karl Shindeldecker of Chambersburg, defeating Dallastown’s Zach Luckenbaugh for the second time in the day, 3-1, after a 1-0 victory in the quarterfinals. In three matches with Luckenbaugh this year, Hillard has won 3-0, 1-0 and 3-1.
Olivarria opened a 6-2 lead on Gettysburg’s Jared Townsend in the quarterfinals at 152, only to have Townsend score seven unanswered points, sending Olivarria into the wrestlebacks. By the time Olivarria battled his way to the bronze medal match, there was Townsend once again. This time Olivarria prevailed, 8-4.
Joining the seven finalists in Altoona, in addition to Hillard and Olivarria, are Garden Spot’s Garrett Gehr (132) and Dustin Swanson (285) and Octorara’s Mike Trainor (145).
Gehr led Kyle Miller 4-1 late in the second period of their quarterfinal before Miller triggered 11 unanswered points with a five-point move. Gehr posted consolation wins over Solanco’s Jackson Houghton, 13-1, and Lampeter-Strasburg’s Arik Harnish, 6-3 — Griffin Gonzalez having defeated Harnish 4-0 in the semifinals — then drilled Dallastown’s Ashton Deller 11-0 for the bronze.
Swanson also had his plans derailed in the quarterfinals as Carlisle’s Layton Schmick used a second-period headlock to take a 5-3 lead, then closed out a 7-4 win with a takedown in the third.
Like Gehr, Swanson fought his way through fellow L-L’ers in the consolations, pinning Hempfield’s Caleb Mussmon and L-S’s Zac Shelley before affixing Gettysburg’s Trevor Gallagher to the mat in 2:14.
Trainor picked up his 100th career win in the bronze medal match at 145, topping Cedar Cliff’s John Cunningham 4-2.