AA Wrestling Friday

Pequea Valley's Gabe Miller, right, scrambles with JohnRocco Kazalas, of Quaker Valley in the 145 pound quarter finals of the PIAA wrestling tournament in Hershey Friday, Mar. 8, 2019. Miller defeated Kazalas by fall at 3:19.

HERSHEY — Gabe Miller wrestles because it makes him happy.

Friday night, in the self-proclaimed happiest place on earth, he was a very happy young man.

Miller secured his spot in the championship match of the PIAA Class 2A 145-pound weight class Friday night at the Giant Center, posting an 8-0 major decision victory over Tristan Pugh of Berlin Brothervalley.

He will face Andrew Cerniglia of Notre Dame-Green Pond in this afternoon’s championship bout.

The Pequea Valley senior looked calm and comfortable in the semifinal win, as well as in his morning quarterfinal, where he pinned JohnRocco Kazalas of Quaker Valley.

“At the end of the day it’s all about just being happy,” he said. “ That’s what life’s about.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity, I know it’s a gift from God to go out there and compete.”

In the semifinals he took an early 5-0 lead on Pugh, leveraging a front headlock to get behind Pugh both stood, then hitting a back heel trip to a tilt.

“I’ve been hitting that same tilt since I was in sixth, seventh grade,” Miller said. “It’s not my favorite turn, (but) you never know what you’re going to pull out.

“I felt like it was there, I could get a couple points. If nothing else, I was comfrtable hitting the mat in a scramble.”

The five-pointer gave him the early advantage, but, mindful of history, he did not rest on his laurels.

“My sophomore year, my last time in the semis, I was up 5-0 and ended up losing the match,” he said, “so I knew I couldn’t take my foot off the gas,.

On bottom to start the second period, he came out of a scramble to escape with 50 seconds left, going up 6-0.

Pugh elected neutral to start the third period and Miller bearhugged Pugh’s throw try for the final points of the match.

In the morning quarterfinals he countered a single leg by Kazalas, slowly, surely, improving the situation until he secured the takedown with 14 seconds left in the first period.

He got out 38 seconds into the second period, then hit a shrug single to a turk, jumping into a corkscrew for the fall.

Miller was the only L-L representative to prevail as his teammate, Joey Coblentz (220), Octorara’s Seth Hoopes (126) and Braeden Amole (132) and Annville-Cleona’s Matt Inman (113) were eliminated in the second round of consolations.

Coblentz was pinned by Wilson’s Kolby Flank in 2:58.

Hoopes tied his match with ZJ Ward of  Freedon Area at 5-5, but could get no closer after Ward escaped with 1:09 left.

Scoreless into the third period, Amole fell behind Sullivan County’s Nathan Higly 3-0 and, after escaping with a minute showing, surrendered a clinching takedown with 17 seconds to go.

East Pennsboro’s Adam Jacob scored three takedowns in a 7-1 victory over Inman.