HERSHEY – Josh Deputy said after Chestnut Ridge’s loss to Southern Columbia in the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA Team Wrestling Championships that his squad had wrestled its best dual of the season.
There was still one more day to go.
Chestnut Ridge rolled over District 7 champion Burrell 44-10 then beat District 11 champ Saucon Valley 36-31 for third place in the state.
“Last night was hard. I know they wanted it really bad,” Deputy said of a state title, which the school has never won. “We just weren’t quite good enough to beat Southern Columbia.
“(The Lions) wrestled the best match they wrestled all year last night and followed it up with two even better matches today. It’s a tribute to our school and community. It’s neat to see and fun for the kids to be a part of. It’s a lifetime experience they will never forget.”
It marks the fifth time since 2013 that the Lions have earned a medal in the event, but they have yet to win it. Saturday marked the third straight year the Lions won state bronze.
Despite falling short of the gold-medal match, none of Deputy’s wrestlers was hanging his head on Saturday.
“I expected them to bounce back, and they did,” the coach said. “They’re a resilient bunch. They live for this.
“They really do. They were emotionally engaged, all 25 of them.”
Seth Holderbaum got the Lions going with a takedown in overtime for a 3-1 victory over Ricky Feroce at 195 pounds.
“That was a real big win for him,” Deputy said. “I attribute that match to what started the whole thing.”
Duane Knisely followed with a 7-2 decision over Mikey Scherer, and Noah Smith collected a forfeit at 285.
Major decisions by Calan Bollman – 10-0 over Niko Ferra at 106 – and Kai Burkett – 8-0 over Shawn Szymanski – gave the Lions a 20-0 lead.
Nathan Holderbaum’s 7-4 victory over Nick Salerno and Ross Dull’s 7-2 win against Aaron Edwards pushed the advantage to 26-0.
Kaleb Miller, who lost a tough match against Southern Columbia, really opened the gap against Burrell.
He recorded a defensive fall over Trent Valovchik to give his team 32 points.
“After last night, he deserved it,” Deputy said of Miller. “I don’t think he even realized how big it was. He works so hard. When people work hard and do the right thing, good things end up happening for them, and it did today.”
Burrell’s coaching staff and team members lost two team points protesting the call, so the Bucs had minus-2 points until Ian Oswalt’s 2-1 decision over Trevor Weyandt made it 32-1.
Gryphon Callihan pinned Adam Gimbel at 145, and Jack Moyer’s 5-1 decision over Dalton Corwin made it 41-1.
“They wrestled super well today,” Deputy said of his wrestlers. “We won all of the toss-up matches and then some. We got some of the JV guys in toward the end, and they won some matches.”
Baltzer Bollman’s 4-0 victory over Dominic Holmes was sandwiched between Burrell’s final two wins. A.J. Corrado beat Quentyn Riggleman 11-0 at 160 but lost another team point for Burrell, and Cole Clark pinned Dominick Claar in the sudden-victory period.
“Even when the matches were out of hand and we sent the JV guys out, they were fighting for points,” Deputy said. “They’re just a much a part of the team as the starters. I preach all of the time that if a guy on the team is struggling with something it’s his practice partner’s fault.”
After dropping the first bout against Saucon Valley, the Lions won the next six for a 27-3 lead. Braydyn Lugardo beat Smith 4-0 at 220 before Knisely topped Nicholas Warnke by the same score at 285.
“We wrestled extremely well again,” Deputy said. “Duane beat a really good heavyweight. Noah Smith at 220 wrestled a good kid and saved a team point. Saucon Valley is super dangerous. They’re a tough team to wrestle, but we stuck to our basics and, for the most part, kept our heads clean.”
Calan Bollman pinned Ermal Duka at 106, Burkett collected a forfeit and Nathan Holderbaum edged Travis Riefenstahl 10-8 in a back-and-forth match at 120.
Dull’s pin of Kevin Dyer and Miller’s 5-2 victory over Cael Markle put the Lions firmly in control.
Jacob Jones scored a 12-4 major decision over Weyandt at 138, but Callihan got Chestnut Ridge back on the winning track with a fall over Liam Scrivanich.
Luke Moore’s 10-4 victory over Thomas Spirk locked up third place for the Lions.
Tyler Pfizenmayer pinned Daniel Moore, and Ty Csencsits picked up a fall over Riggleman before Mathew Arciulo collected a forfeit to close out the dual.