HERSHEY – The first requirement to win any wrestling match is to score.
Such an elementary process, but one that eluded Garrett Vulcano and Seth Carr Saturday afternoon in the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships in Hershey.
Vulcano, a senior from Chartiers-Houston, and Carr, a senior from South Fayette, combined for zero bout points in their finals, and a chance for gold slipped away.
Vulcano lost a 7-0 decision to Ryan Solomon of Milton, who won his second straight title and became a four-time state medalist.
Carr couldn’t produce a point in a 1-0 loss to George Phillippi of Derry in the 113-pound finals.
The two area wrestlers were the only local finalists and had to settle for a step lower than the top of the awards podium in the Giant Center.
“Garrett went after him,” said Bill Sutton, Chartiers-Houston’s head coach. “But Solomon did what he had to do.”
Vulcano knew this was going to be a tough match to win when the two first locked arms. Solomon’s strength was amazing, which helped make him a two-time champion and four-time placewinner.
“He didn’t look that big, but he was deceiving,” said Vulcano.
Solomon got all the points he needed with a takedown 46 seconds into the bout. He added an escape and takedown in the second period and tacked on one more takedown in the third.
“The first takedown is always big in a match,” Vulcano said. “You still have to wrestle. I just opened up and let it fly. He deserved everything he got.”
Sutton had hoped for a scoreless first period, with Vulcano then winning the flip, taking down and scoring the bout’s first points. None of that happened.
“The better man won, and it wasn’t us,” said Sutton. “But Garrett finished second in the state, and we’ll take that. The strategy was to weather the storm … (Solomon) got that first takedown, and now we’re in trouble.”
Sutton said it was tough watching Vulcano lose but even tougher knowing it was his final varsity high school wrestling match.
“He is one of the hardest workers in the room,” he said. “I’m sure he’s not happy, but he’ll realize what a great year it was.”
Carr’s loss came in nearly the identical way it happened in the finals of the WPIAL Championships, a 1-0 Phillippi win in which the Derry freshman rode Carr for two minutes.
“I worked all summer for this,” said Carr. “It is what it is. I was a little overwhelmed. He’s really good on the legs. There is not much I can do about it now.”
Phillippi scored the winning point by escaping 13 seconds into the second period. Carr never came close to escaping Phillippi’s grasp, though he tried different avenues of attack.
“He rides with a lot of pressure and uses his legs,” said South Fayette head coach Rick Chaussard. “He’s pretty much the only guy who can keep Seth down. He just had to get off better. We just didn’t execute it.”
Phillippi lost to Justin Patrick of Ligonier Valley in the Southwest Region semifinals last week and finished third. After beating Carr, Phillippi was still a little hard on himself.
“I didn’t get a takedown in the finals or semifinals,” he said. “One of my coaches (Brad Shrum) taught me how to ride. We go over (technique) in the summer and it’s really starting to work. I was very nervous going out there. It was so close, but I knew I could win. I still can’t believe it. I was just happy to get out or regionals.”
Carr left the match with a 39-5 record and 125-40 career mark. He was attempting to match his brother’s Nick achievement in 2010 of winning a state title.
“Right now, it’s very disappointing,” said Chaussard. “I told him that in a day or so, he’ll be very proud of what he accomplished.”
The area had 10 of 16 wrestlers medal. Joining Carr and Vulcano were Jake Rothka of Bentworth, who was eighth at 113; John Demaske (4th at 126) and Dustin Conti (3rd at 170) of Jefferson-Morgan; Nick Gavazzi (5th at 138); Jared Walker (7th at 160) and Mike Fetchet (4th at 170) of South Fayette; Cody Jacobs (6th at 220) of West Greene; and Jake Temple (4th at 220) of Avella.
Bethlehem Catholic easily won the team title with 94.5 points, 24.5 more than Benton (70). Saegertown was third at 46 and Burrell and Trinity tied for fourth at 44.5.
Mike Racciato of Pen Argyl, who won his third gold medal, was named Outstanding Wrestler.