HERSHEY - D.J. Fehlman is guaranteed a state medal.
He's been climbing the ladder toward this day for three years or more, and, on Friday, it took a split-second decision to earn his second win at the 2014 PIAA Class AAA Championships at the Giant Center.
Fehlman, a junior, earned a decision on Friday to advance to the quarterfinals, where he would meet the top-ranked 126-pounder in the state in Canon McMillan's Dalton Macri, the Southwest Region champ and last year's state runner-up.
Photo by Jeff Fishbein/Lewistown Sentinel
Warren junior D.J. Fehlman, right, squares up with Canon McMillan senior Dalton Macri in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals on Friday. Fehlman lost a tough 26-11 decision to the returning state runner-up, but went on to win his next match —his 100th career win — to advance to Saturday and guarantee himself a state medal among the top eight in his weight class.
After Fehlman lost a 26-11 decision to the senior, he found himself in a match against Souderton senior Kolton Veit that would ensure one would win a medal among the top eight in the weight class.
It couldn't have been more exciting, with Fehlman earning an 8-7 decision to eliminate Veit.
"The bottom line was it was 6-6 with 20 seconds to go in the match, and we sealed the deal," said Warren coach Glenn Baldensperger.
What a way to Fehlman's 100th career victory.
"It sure does make for a better afternoon and evening," said the coach.
Fehlman will wrestle another senior, Council Rock South's Dan Martoccio Saturday.
"D.J. could have two, maybe three, matches tomorrow," said Baldensperger. "We're in the top eight at this point."
"At this point, now, I can relax a little bit," said Fehlman.
"This is the good part of the tournament... Every since last year, coming down and being at the state tournament, placing was my goal."
Fehlman said, with 20 seconds left in the match, he knew he had to be the aggressor, and used a move he feels most comfortable with - his signature high crotch - for a takedown.
"My killer instincts were kicking in," he said. "I told myself, 'If you want to move on, now is the time.'"
Baldensperger said he wouldn't mind seeing Macri win the state title.
"I'd like to see him win it to say the kid who beat us was the champ," he said.
Baldensperger didn't feel like D.J. had any added pressure.
"Whether his dad (David Fehlman) was a state champ or not, if you're at this level coming down here that's your goal, getting that medal - to get into the medal round is a huge (accomplishment)."
It was a memorable day.
"From the bottom of the roller-coaster ride (in the morning) and now we're on top (in the afternoon)," said Baldensperger.