HERSHEY – Tyler Buckiso is one win away from snapping a 12-year drought for Peters Township High School wrestling.
That’s how long it’s been since a PT wrestler has won a medal in the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships. Bob Kail was the last wrestler to accomplish that feat, taking third place at heavyweight in 2002.
Buckiso, a 132-pound senior, put himself in this position with a 3-0 shutout of Todd Hetrick of Northhampton in the Class AAA first round at the Giant Center Thursday. A win over Zach Elvin of Central Dauphin in today’s quarterfinals (1:30 p.m.) would assure him of one of the eight medals in the 16-man bracket.
Semifinals are at 9 a.m. Saturday and finals are at 7 p.m.
Buckiso was one of four area wrestlers to advance to the quarterfinals. Joining Buckiso are A.C. Headlee, a 126-pound senior from Waynesburg; and two Canon-McMillan wrestlers – Dalton Macri, a 126-pound senior and state runner-up, and Solomon Chishko, a 145-pound senior who is a defending state champion.
Franklin Regional leads the team scoring after the first day with 13 1/2 points. Parkland and Nazareth are tied with 12 points and Latrobe is fourth with 11. Canon-McMillan, the three-time defending champion, is tied for 12th with three other teams with seven points.
“I think I’m in a great spot,” said Buckiso, who raised his record to 30-4. “I didn’t know (Hetrick) but I did know two others in the bracket. I wrestled (Chase Zemenak of Nazareth) and (Tyler Smith of Franklin Regional).”
Peters Township has had five wrestlers win eight medals in the program’s history. Kail won two, third in 2002 and fifth in 2001, and Drew Spencer is the school’s only state champion, winning gold at 135 in 1993 after taking third at 125 in 1992. Bill Lewis was a runner-up at 155 in 1986, and Mike Kail was second at 145 in 1993 and sixth at 140 in 1992. The other medal-winner was John Williams, who was third at 160 in 1998.
Peters Township’s Derrick Evanovich won his first match in the 2012 state tournament, but lost his next two. Buckiso wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to him.
“I had a little bit of nerves, just like in any tournament,” Buckiso said. “I’ve worked hard for this.”
Buckiso was a state qualifier as a freshman but did not make it back the past two seasons. He didn’t allow that to get him down.
“I knew if I worked hard, it would happen again,” Buckiso said. “I knew it would come sooner or later.”
Headlee roughed up Ben Ross of Pennridge during an 8-2 decision in the quarters. He never trailed in the match that improved his record to 36-5.
“There are no guarantees in the first round,” he said. “There are no slouches. So I just wrestled my heart out.”
Headlee will wrestle John Ritter of Liberty, a third-place finisher in the Northeast Region with a 32-15 record, in today’s quarterfinals.
“I felt really good out there,” Headlee said. “In the third period, I still had my wind. I’m not thinking about anything other than getting the next win.”
Macri and Chishko are not only teammates and District 7 champions but each won their first-round bout in the same manner, a 25-10 technical fall. Macri got his against Connor Moyer of Wilson, a third-place finisher in the Southcentral Region.
“It’s nice to get that out of the way,” said Macri (37-2). “I don’t really like the 25-10 matches. I like good, close matches against tough kids. That’s what I strive for, what I live for.”
Macri meets D.J. Fehlman of Warren, a Northwest runner-up with a 33-2 record, in the quarterfinals. If successful, Macri could have a rematch with Headlee and has defending state champion Sam Krivus of Hempfield lurking on the other side of the bracket.
Chishko, now 24-3, overwhelmed Ethan Stever of Exeter Township, sending the fourth-place finisher in the Southcentral Region through a series of takedowns and let-ups.
“I’ve been training hard for this,” Chishko said. “I’m in good shape, and I feel good out there.”
Chishko wrestles Central Mountain’s Demetrie Probst, a Northwest runner-up with a 28-10 record, in the quarterfinals.
Ringgold’s Doug Gudenburr (113) and Devin Fallenstein each went 0-2 and were eliminated.