HERSHEY – Last season, A.C. Headlee had one of the hard-luck stories of the wrestling postseason.
Then a freshman at Waynesburg High School, Headlee found himself in the toughest weight class in the WPIAL Championships, 106 pounds, and finished fourth, one spot from qualifying for the PIAA tournament.
This year, a determined Headlee won the WPIAL title at 113 pounds, leaving no doubt about going to Hershey.
Naturally, his first match at the Giant Center in Hershey was a wild and controversial affair, complete with a scoring mix-up, penalty points and 20 bout points. Fortunately for Headlee, the majority of those points were in his column in an 11-9 win over Daniel Grant of Twin Valley in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA Championships Thursday.
Headlee was one of five Washington-Greene County wrestlers to advance into today’s Class AAA quarterfinals (1:30 p.m.). The others were all from Canon-McMillan: Dalton Macri (113), Connor Schram (126), Solomon Chishko (145) and Cody Wiercioch (170).
Semifinals are at 9 a.m. Saturday and finals follow at 7 p.m.
Canon-McMillan, looking to win its third straight team tournament title in this event, is tied for second place with Central Dauphin at 14.5 points. Parkland, with five in the championship round, leads with 17 points.
“It was a good round for us,” said C-M head coach Chris Mary. “We lost some close ones. We just have to be ready for (Friday).”
Headlee was called for a full Nelson and cautioned twice in the first period, but still led 4-2. In a calm second period, Headlee emerged with a 6-4 edge. Then things got dicey.
Headlee got a second warning for stalling, which gave Grant a point, then was penalized two points for a choke hold. The latter call angered Grant, who emerged from the hold using a curse word. So Grant was penalized a point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The score should have been 11-7, but the scorer’s table awarded all three penalty points to Grant and had Headlee trailing, 10-8. A five-minute discussion followed as Grant and Headlee stood in the center of the mat.
“They gave all the points to (Grant),” said Waynesburg head coach Joe Throckmorton. “They finally got it straightened out.”
Whether Headlee realized it, another penalty point for stalling would have disqualified him. He had to hold his breath a moment when he was called for a third caution and penalized a point, but cautions do not count in the progression of penalty points.
“I think the refs were just trying to control the match too much,” said Headlee. “But it doesn’t matter what I think.
“I think the wait hurt me. It stopped my momentum.”
Throckmorton was happy Headlee kept his composure.
“That scenario would have rattled him last year,” he said. “He kept calm and wrestled through it. That’s the difference with him this year.”
Headlee will wrestle Derek Gulotta of Owen J. Roberts in the quarters.
“This tournament is all about getting your hand raised,” said Headlee, “and moving on to the next (round).”
Macri (42-6) had a 7-1 win over Grimaldi Gonzalez of Liberty in the first round and drew Zach Clingan (SC-4, 40-6) of Spring Grove in the quarters. Gonzalez was a third-place finisher at 120 last year.
Schram (41-3) had an easy time winning an 11-4 decision over Rodney Sunday of Dallastown. Up next for the three-time finalist is Chase Zemenak of Nazareth (NE-3, 23-5). Schram won a state title as a freshman and followed it with two silver medals.
Chishko (8-0) dominated Jon Dambro of Garnet Valley with a 17-2 technical fall. Chishko, a third-place finisher at 138 last year, has Kevin Synan of Hampton (SW-3, 38-7) next.
Wiercioch (41-1) , looking for his third state title, pinned Cody Seibert of Big Spring in 4:28. Tom Sleigh of Dubois brings a 38-0 record against Wiercioch into the quarters.
Alex Campbell (37-8) dropped his first bout, 13-3, to Michael Boykins (35-1) of Coatesville but won a consolation bout against Kyle Kahley of Mifflinburg by fall in 2:37.
C-M’s Brendon Price (106) and Angelo Broglia (Hvy) each lost twice and were eliminated.