HERSHEY – Garrett Vulcano unleashed six minutes of all-out wrestling Friday night, and it put him in a position to become a state champion.
Vulcano, a senior at Chartiers-Houston, tore into Adam Geiger of Camp Hill Trinity for two takedowns and came away with a dominating, 5-2 decision in the semifinals of the 195-pound weight class in the PIAA Class AA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Vulcano has a chance to become the first state champion for Chartiers-Houston, since Corey Walker won the Class AA heavyweight title in 1994 if he beats two-time state champion Ryan Solomon (39-0) of Milton.
Vulcano will have company in today’s finals (2 p.m.) as South Fayette’s Seth Carr won a thrilling 10-8 overtime match against Josh Brown of Claysburg-Kimmel at 113 pounds. He gets Derry’s George Phillippi (41-4) in the finals.
Avella’s Jake Temple (220) and Jeff-Morgan’s John Demaske (126) saw their chances of winning gold medals evaporate with losses in the semifinals.
Vulcano can become the second wrestler in his extended family to win a state title. His uncle, Patsy Vulcano, won the 132-pound title in 1984.
“My uncle Patsy and I never won Powerade, so we get kidded about that,” said Garrett. “He has a state title, and I don’t. Now, I have a chance for mine.”
After a scoreless first period, Vulcano gave up an escape to fall behind 1-0. But he shot in and took Geiger down with about 25 seconds remaining. Vulcano escaped in the third period and took Geiger down with 53 seconds remaining for a 5-1 lead. That took the fight out of Geiger.
“Up here, if you don’t want it bad enough, you’re not going to get it,” said Vulcano. “You can say all you want about who has the talent, but at this level, it’s the guy who wants it more.”
Carr is one win away from matching the feat of his brother Nick, who won a state title at 145 pounds in 2010 as a junior.
“I’m going to try my best to do what he did,” said Carr. I know you have to put a lot of hard work in, and you’ve got to believe in yourself.
Carr appeared to have it won in regulation, but wsa hit for a stalling point with seven seconds remaining, despite the fact Carr was raising Brown’s leg on a takedown attempt. The call brought a chorus of boos from the large crowd.
“I guess I should be politically correct,” said Rick Chaussard, South Fayette’s head coach. “It was a very fast call.”
Carr didn’t seem perturbed. He shot into Brown’s legs, picked him up and took him to the mat hard for the winning points. Brown lay on the mat for a minute, apparently stunned by the takedown.
“I was nervous going into overtime, but then I calmed down,” said Carr. “I just wanted to take my shots and take him down.”
Temple got into a low-scoring affair and the match was tied, 1-1, after regulation. No one scored in the first two overtimes, but Smith escaped in the third overtime to win it.
“I watched him before,” said Temple. “He’s not real active on his feet. I was waiting for him to do something, and he didn’t. It was very frustrating.”
Demaske had a difficult task against the defending state champion. He kept it within upset distance, trailing 2-1 after one and 4-3 after two. But Diehl outscored Demaske, 5-0, over the final two minutes for the six-point win.
“He was strong and quick on his feet,” said Demaske. “He had a lot more to lose than me. He was ranked a lot higher. If I beat him, that bout would have a big impact. I’m going to try for third now.”’
Conti was beaten 2-1 in double overtime by Alex Gular of Port Allegheny in the quarterfinals. Conti came back through the consolation rounds, winning twice and setting the school’s all-time win record with 141, three more than Justin Tracanna’s 138 and four more than Cary Kolat’s 137.
“I don’t think my head was in it,” Conti said. “I let the pressure get to me. I didn’t wrestle the way I usually wrestle.”
Nick Gavazzi of Charleroi also lost in the quarters, 3-1 to Seth Lansberry of Line Mountain at 138. Gavazzi also came back through the consolations and will wrestle for fifth place today.
Tanner Sutton of Chartiers-Houston finished his career with two straight losses, 8-3 to Bake Bowman of Tri Valley in the quarters and 4-3 to Phil Marra of Burrell in the consolations.