HERSHEY – Jake Temple has been thinking about this wrestling match since he was 5-years old.
When it ended, the senior from Avella could not contain his joy, rising from the wrestling mat in the Giant Center and yelling at the top of his lungs.
Just think what it might be like if he wins a state title.
Temple stopped Andrew Dunn of Bethlehem Catholic 4-2 in ultimate tiebreaker to reach the finals of the 220-pound weight class in the PIAA Class AA Championships in Hershey. He is the first wrestler from Avella to make the state finals since Ryan Sella won the school’s last state title in 1988.
“I knew from age 5 what I wanted to do and that was to wrestle,” said Temple, who extended his unbeaten streak this season to 42. “I’m going to enjoy every moment of this.”
Temple was one of two area wrestlers to make the finals. Jared Walker of South Fayette defeated Ryan Preisch of Milton in an eerily similar match as Temple’s and by the same score, 4-2, in ultimate tiebreaker at 160 pounds.
John Demaske of Jefferson-Morgan entered his 126-pound semifinal bout against Bethlehem Catholic’s Zeke Moisey with a 42-0 record and left with his first loss after a 5-1 decision for Moisey.
Four other Double-A wrestlers who made it to the quarters Friday morning fell into consolations: Austin McDermitt of Burgettstown lost, 7-1, to Luke Karam of Bethlehem Catholic at 113 pounds; Mike Carr of South Fayette suffered his first loss of the season, 6-1, to Kyle Shoop of Boiling Springs at 132, Jason Miller of Jefferson-Morgan fell 4-2 to Josh Evans of Palmerton at 138, and Bill Bowlen of J-M was edged by Garrett Hoffman of Montoursville, 5-4, at 170. Each will come away with a medal.
Temple and Walker hope to take the final step and win a gold medal in today finals, which begin at 2 p.m.
Temple will use the same borrowed wrestling shoes in the finals and hope they bring the same type of success.
“The sole ripped away from the ones I had,” said Temple. “They are size 13.”
Temple preferred not to reveal who gave him the shoes, saying only, “he wouldn’t want the publicity.”
The match against Dunn ended in a 1-1 tie in regulation and the three overtimes produced an escape for each to make it 2-2. In the UTB, Temple had the choice because he scored the first points of the bout. He reversed Dunn with 13 seconds to go.
“As soon as I won the flip (after the first period), I knew if I didn’t give up a takedown or stalling point, I would not lose,” he said. “Dunn is a great wrestler, but I came out on top.”
Walker’s win matched Temple’s, tied 1-1 after regulation with a pair of escapes, each wrestler getting an escape in the OT and Walker getting a takedown in the final 30 seconds.
“Just 30 more seconds,” said Walker. “I knew I could do it.”
Walker is not the most prolific scorer in the state, but he understands how to win the close matches. Sometimes, it takes some good fortune. Near the end of the first overtime, Preisch appeared to bring him to the mat for a takedown near the edge but Walker rolled out of bounds and the official ruled no control.
“It’s happened a few times before,” said Walker, who is 43-1. “I spent an hour in practice specifically working on that. I’m comfortable from that position, and I even felt I could score.”
Demaske said he has a torn bicep and a torn deltoid in one shoulder and said he developed a case of gout Thursday night in his right toe.
“It swelled up like a balloon,” said Demaske. “There was nothing I could do.”
Moisey, a senior Southeast champion, controlled the match from the start. He took Demaske down and turned him for two backpoints in the first period. Demaske escaped but trailed 4-1 after one period. Moisey put the bout away by riding Demaske for the second period. Moisey escaped in the third for the 5-1 win.
“He was strong,” Demaske said. “I usually lift once or twice a day, but with the injuries I hadn’t lifted in a week and a half. I felt weak.”
Moisey was impressed with Demaske, especially his undefeated record this season … before this match.
“With a 42-0 record, I knew he was going to be a very good opponent,” said Moisey. “People from other parts of the state, sometimes their records are a little bit inflated. They don’t wrestle the tournaments like we wrestle, Beast of East and Escape the Rock.”