SHARON – The ‘S’ on his chest stands for Sheffield, but it could stand for ‘Super’ as senior Ethan Finch won a Northwest Region 2A title on Saturday to advance to Super Regionals this week.
Finch and Eisenhower junior Cael Black — both returning state medalists — will advance to the West Super Regional — a new, additional step this year as part of the PIAA’s COVID-19 efforts — Saturday at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The top four in each weight class will advance to the state tournament March 12 in Hershey.
Finch won the 189-pound NW regional division at Sharon High School to improve to 27-0 on the season. He increased his school record in wins to 108. Finch had pins in the quarterfinals and semifinals before a 2-0 decision over Greenville’s Cole Karpinski in the championship.
Finch knows it only gets more difficult from here.
“Focus is a main part (of staying in the moment), but I’ve found looking ahead is something I’ve been doing since the start of the season,” said Finch. “Looking toward the state tournament and for this weekend, I think it’ll be one of my toughest ones considering the depth in my super region bracket. I just need to come out on top to set myself up nicely for states.”
Black won an 11-4 decision in the region quarterfinals and had a 12-5 win in the semifinals at 215 pounds to set up a championship rematch with Corry’s Hayden Linkerhof, who Black lost to in the finals of both sections and districts in close decisions. Black (23-3) finished second in a 4-2 decision loss to Linkerhof this time, but qualifies for states once again.
Eisenhower senior Easton Hedman saw his high school career come to an end with a fourth-place finish at 138 pounds. After a 2-1 start, Hedman lost a 4-2 decision to Commodore Perry’s Ashten Aramagost in the third-place match. Hedman ends his career with 84 wins.
“I thought Cael and Easton both wrestled very well this weekend,” said Ike coach Kris Black. “Any other year, if you are top four at regionals, you are heading to Hershey the following week with a big smile on your face because you are officially a PA state qualifier, top 20 in the state. But this isn’t any other year. Easton has had a unique and fantastic senior season along with an absolutely great career.”
Coach Black added: “He was on track to possibly get 100 wins this season, and he just kept getting better each time out. This weekend, he just missed out on making that next step to advance, and his personality and leadership is going to be hard to replace.
“I thought Cael wrestled well, like I said,” said Coach Black. “The first two matches he looked crisp and focused and dominated the matches and, in the finals, he wrestled well. I thought that maybe some of the stalemates were called a little premature, but you have to finish your shots quicker each week or that happens. You always want to be first and have to believe you can win; if not, why do it? But I think he is positioned well for next weekend. (You) have to be in the top 4 to get to that final step and be top 8 in the state.”
Cael finished sixth in the state last season as a sophomore.
“This postseason is one of the most grueling things you can do as a wrestler; week after week, competing and trying to advance, and there has to be breaks and some luck involved for it to go right every single time out,” said Coach Black. “And staying healthy is probably the most important thing. Hopefully we can have those things for the remaining two weeks.”
In addition to Hedman, seasons ended Saturday for Youngsville senior Collin Clough (70 career wins) at 145 pounds, and Sheffield junior Landon Mead at 160, and freshman Chase Kyler at 106.