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Staying alive

Ike’s Jaquay, Black advance to quarterfinals; Sheffield’s Finch wins in consis as all move on to Day 2 at states

Photo courtesy Jared Finch Sheffield’s Ethan Finch controls Hamburg’s Travis Colson during their 182-pound consolation match at the PIAA AA State Tournament in Hershey, Thursday, March 5, 2020. Finch picked up a 7-0 decision to keep his season alive after falling in the first round. Eisenhower’s Logan Jaquay and Cael Black each advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals.

HERSHEY, Pa. — All three Warren County wrestlers advanced to Day 2 of the PIAA AA State Tournament at the Giant Center in Hershey Thursday.

Eisenhower’s Logan Jaquay and Cael Black each won their first round match to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals. Sheffield’s Ethan Finch lost his first round match, but came back to win in the consolation round to keep his season alive.

“It was a pretty good way to start,” Eisenhower coach Kris Black said. “It couldn’t have gone much better as far as how our day went. It set them up pretty well for the next couple of days.”

Jaquay got the day started with a 16-1 tech fall over Line Mountain’s Blake Wirt in the first round at 120.

“The first time they locked up they went out of bounds, the next time Logan got his feet underneath him and then he started going to work,” Black said. “He looked poised. He’s got a pretty good focus right now. You get a tech fall at the state tournament, that’s a good day.”

Jaquay will square off with Faith Christian’s Eric Alderfer, a 7-0 winner over Huntingdon’s Roland Mills, in the quarterfinals. The winner moves on to the semifinals and a match with either Bishop McDevitt’s Nate Smith or the defending state champion, Sheldon Seymour of Troy.

Finch fell to Quaker Valley’s Patrick Cutchember by pinfall in the first round. He came back in the consolation round and picked up a 7-0 decision over Hamburg’s Travis Colson. Finch takes on Huntingdon’s Myles Baney in the next round with the winner to face either Ellwood City’s Austin Walley or Line Mountain’s Jacob Feese.

Cael Black picked up his first career win at states with a 13-4 major decision over Wyalusing’s Jackson Chilson.

“He got the monkey off his back today as far as winning that first match,” Kris Black said. “Now he realizes he can wrestle with anybody here.”

He has a quarterfinal match against Chestnut Ridge’s Duane Knisely, the Southwest Region champ and a pinfall winner over Bishop McDevitt’s Devyn Clair. A semifinal matchup with either Wilson’s Kolby Flank or Maplewood’s Joey King awaits the winner of the Black/Knisely match.

The only downside to the Knights’ first day, coach Black said, was that it ended so quickly.

“I wish we could have wrestled a couple more matches today,” he said. “They both wrestled outstanding the first day.”

Keeping the momentum is one of the things that makes the state tournament so challenging.

“I think we finished at one o’clock today,” Black said. “Now you’ve got the whole day and night to find something to do. You’re not at home so you don’t have that comfort zone. You’ve got to go out to eat and find stuff to do. You don’t want to sit in the stadium all night. It’s a fine line, but I think we did a good job today.”

To that end, the Eisenhower wrestlers didn’t come with just their coaches.

“We brought some guys down with us who keep it light,” Black said. “They’re good at not really focusing on wrestling until it’s time to.”

Action gets underway at 9 a.m. today with the quarterfinals and second round of consolations. The third round of consis is set to begin at 11:45 a.m. The semifinals and fourth round of consolations is set for a 7:30 p.m. start with the fifth round of consis closing out the day at 9:30 p.m.

Both Cael Black and Jaquay are one win away from securing a state medal. Finch must win twice to secure a spot on the podium.

“They’ve got to win one tomorrow,” Kris Black said. “A win in the quarterfinals gets you top six. If you lose and win the next one, you’re top eight. They’ve got to win one of two. I like my chances with both those guys winning one of two.”

NOTES

Alderfer’s win over Mills was the only “upset” in the 120-pound bracket. Alderfer was the third place finisher out of the Southeast Region while Mills was second in the Southwest…The 182-pound bracket, on the other hand, was chalk full of upsets. It wasn’t a good day for the Northwest Region as all four competitors dropped their first round match. Slippery Rock’s Vito Pilosi won his preliminary round match, but fell in the first round. Reynolds’ Bryce McCloskey, the Northwest Region champ, was decked by Penns Valley’s Andrew Sharer (Southwest-4). The surprise of the bracket may have been the fall of Kane’s Cameron Whisner. Whisner came into the state tournament with just a single loss on the season (to McCloskey at regionals), but dropped a 4-3 decision to Burrell’s Richard Feroce in the first round, then lost a 6-5 decision to Tamaqua’s Nate Wickersham in the first consolation round…The Northwest Region faired well in the 220-pound bracket, however. In addition to Black and King, region champ Nathan Taylor (Brookville) and Evan Miller (Reynolds, Northwest-4) both won their first match. Miller topped Pen Argyl’s Aiden Compton, 1-0, in the prelims before being pinned by Montoursville’s Cameron Wood in the first round. Compton was one of two underclassmen in the bracket (along with Black) but saw his tournament come to an end with a pinfall loss to Southern Columbia’s Max Tillett in the consis.

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