BETHLEHEM — Last year at this time, Travis Roper sat on the outside watching his Wyoming Valley West teammates participate in the postseason.
Heck, just a few weeks ago, the Spartan junior was sidelined watching his wrestling mates compete in dual meets. That was after he committed a misconduct penalty during the Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament costing the Spartans the team title of that tournament. He finished sixth at that event. He bounced back from there to get into the postseason for the first time since 2011.
He completed another comeback on Saturday winning four times in the consolation bracket of the 132-pound weight class to take the third-place medal at the Class 3A Northeast Regional and advance to the PIAA Championships, which begin Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey.
“It’s awesome. I never thought in a million years I’d be down here (from) WVC sixth, that’s pretty good,” said Roper, who defeated East Stroudsburg South’s Mason Byrne in the third-place match, 3-1. “Never in my entire career of wrestling would I have thought that. That was way above my expectations. I was happy just making it to regionals, now I’m making it to states.”
Making it even sweeter for Roper is that he’s heading to states with one of his best friends and wrestling partner Kyle Krasavage, who remained undefeated this season at 38-0 in claiming his first regional title. The Spartans duo is joined by two other wrestlers from the WVC in Coughlin’s Brad Emerick and Crestwood’s Matt Hammerstone. A total of eight grapplers from District 2 in Class 3A are headed to Hershey.
“What else can you ask for, you and your partner make it to states?” said Krasavage, who took Roper’s spot in the postseason last year winning a wrestle-off. “We love Roper. He’s the man. He’s one of my favorite teammates. He brings smiles to the whole team. He loves to have fun.”
Krasavage defeated East Stroudsburg South’s Colby Ems in the championship match 7-1. Ems entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed, but the second-seeded Krasavage jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first period and continued from there.
“It’s pretty exciting. I made it all the way to the regional final. I’m still undefeated. Going to states undefeated, hopefully I can build upon it,” said Krasavage, a senior who advanced to the state event as a freshman but hasn’t returned since.
Like Krasavage, Emerick entered the event undefeated. Unfortunately for Emerick, he leaves with one loss after falling to Nazareth’s Aaron Bradley 3-2 in the 285-pound final. Bradley, who finished second in the state last year and is ranked nationally, recorded a late takedown to secure the victory.
In what many consider a preview of next week’s state final at 285, neither wrestler showed the other much in their arsenal. Bradley got a second-period escape and Emerick answered with one of his own in the third period. Bradley later got two for the takedown and Emerick ended the bout with an escape but still fell to 36-1 this season.
“Well, it would be a good final for next week and that’s what you always got to look out for. You don’t want to show everything in your hand just yet,” Coughlin coach Steve Stahl said. “This week’s not important. This week is just for getting there. We’ll make some adjustments but all in all 3-2 we’re doing alright.
“We’re gonna work all week and I’m sure we’ll hit him in the finals. I’d like to see that.”
Hammerstone, who defeated Berwick’s Kevin Laubach last weekend for the District 2 title, got another shot at his Bulldog rival and gave Laubach something to remember in the third-place match.
Saturday was the fourth time this season the two were pitted against each other; they end even at two wins apiece.
After both grapplers lost their semifinal Saturday morning each by one point, they both had a quick turnaround having to win one consolation bout to set up another showdown. This one didn’t disappoint going to the ultimate tiebreaker before Hammerstone held on for the 2-1 victory.
Each wrestler chose down position when it was their choice and got an escape as the score was even at 1-1 heading into the sudden victory session. When that period ended scoreless, Laubach chose down in the first of two 30-second overtimes. Hammerstone held him down, not allowing anything. Laubach returned the favor in the second session to force the UTB.
Laubach had the down position and gave it his all in trying to get away, but the Comet senior wasn’t giving in. In the final seconds, Hammerstone almost rolled the Berwick senior to get points and nearly rolled too far allowing Laubach to escape. But by that time, the buzzer had sounded and Hammerstone had the win.
“It was my strength against his strength and there at the end I got a little nervous but I just held on to the ankle, bellied down and was able to hold on at the end,” Hammerstone said. “I’m not much of a top wrestler, but I knew it’s either hold him down or I’m not going to Hershey. So I held him down and I’m going to Hershey.”
Laubach ends his career with the most on Berwick’s all-time wins list with 139 surpassing 2008 grad Nick Venditti, who had 136.
“It’s good to have that but definitely (would trade it for a trip to states),” Laubach said.
Hazleton Area sophomore Larry Romanchik dropped his semifinal at 126, but then advanced to the third-place match before losing to Nazareth’s Chase Zemanek, 5-1.
Delaware Valley’s Lucas Markowitz (160), Martin Strenk (182), Matt Wagner (195) and Jalen Palmer (132) round out the D2 participants at next week’s PIAA Championships. Palmer finished second and the other three all took third.
Class 3A Northeast Regional Tournament
at Liberty H.S., Bethlehem
Team Key: Parkland (Park), Easton (East), Nazareth (Naz), Northampton (North), Wyoming Valley West (WVW),. Father Judge (FJ), Delaware Valley (DV), Stroudsburg (Str), Freedom (Free), Liberty (Lib), LaSalle (LS), Pottsville (Potts), Pocono Mountain East (PME), Coughlin (Cou), Southern Lehigh (SL), Dallas (Dal), Crestwood (Cre), Emmaus (Emm), Hazleton Area (Haz), Pleasant Valley (PV), St. Joseph’s (SJ),. Berwick (Ber), Blue Mountain (BM), Abington Heights (AH), Northeast (NE), Wallenpaupack (Wall), Honesdale (Hon), East Stroudsburg South (ESS), West Scranton (WS), Bangor (Bang), Dieruff (Dier), Whitehall (White), Mastery Charter (MC), Roman Catholic (RC), Scranton (Scr), Valley View (VV), Monsignor Bonner (MB), Archbishop Wood (AW), Mariana Bracetti (MB), Tunkhannock (Tun), Central (Cen), Olney (Olney), Washington (Wash), Cardinal O’Hara (COH), Frankford (Frank), Franklin Towne (FT), Lincoln (Linc), Martin Luther King (MLK), Pittston Area (PA), Pocono Mountain West (PMW), William Allen (WA)
126 – Kyle Krasavage (WVW) dec Colby Ems (ESS) 7-1; 285 – Aaron Bradley (Naz) dec Brad Emerick (Cou) 3-2
126 – Chase Zemanek (Naz) dec Larry Romanchik (Haz) 5-1; 132 – Travis Roper (WVW) dec Mason Byrne (ESS) 3-1.
126 – Ems (ESS) dec Romanchik (Haz) 8-4, SV; Krasavage (WVW) dec Zemenak (Naz) 7-4; 132 – Rizzolino (East) dec Ritz (Cre) 9-2; Palmer (DV) dec Evans (Park) 4-3; 145 – Kilpatrick (East) dec Hammerstone (Cre) 2-1.
Consolation First Round
106 – Wright (WVW) pinned Fasti (AW) 2:55; 113 – Hawkins (Cou) maj dec White (FJ) 15-2; 120 – Lutecki (PA) pinned Fayocavitz (AH) 1:37; 126 – Poray (Cou) tech fall Joaquin-Martin (Linc) 20-4, 4:02; 132 – Roper (WVW) tech fall Mauriello (SJ) 16-1, 2:21; 145 – Cordes (WVW) pinned Keifer (MB) 2:53; 152 – Lussi (PA) pinned Robert (FT) 4:46; DePhillipo (MB) maj dec Simms (WVW) 13-2; 170 – Rivas (Dier) dec Masteller (Ber) 7-2; 220 – Pelusi (LS) dec Moran (WVW) 7-1.
106 – Wright (WVW) dec Brown (Free) 10-9; 120 – Lutecki (PA) tech fall Mallon (MB) 3:57, 15-0; 126 – Poray (Cou) dec Ziegler (SL) 5-3; 132 – Roper (WVW) dec White (FJ) 5-2; 138 –Carrozza (DV) dec Cheek (WVW) 5-3; 145 – Cordes (WVW) pinned Smith (Lib) 3:23; 152 – DePhillipo (MB) dec Lussi (PA) 6-2; Siegel (Tun) dec Macosky (Dal) 7-2; 195 – Robinson (Cre) dec Pierson (East) 8-6; Callahan (Free) dec Schermerhorn (Haz) 7-3, OT.
106 – Scheetz (North) pinned Wright (WVW) :48; 113 – Hetrick (North) pinned Degraba (Dal) 1:51; 120 – Felipa (PV) dec Lutecki (PA) 7-3; 126 – Romanchik (Haz) pinned Saylor (East) 1:11; Zemanek (Naz) maj dec Poray (Cou) 9-0; 132 – Roper (WVW) dec Evans (Park) 4-3; 145 – Hammerstone (Cre) dec Cordes (WVW) 3-2; 152 – DePhillipo (MB) dec Krah (FJ) 7-0; Jakobsen (Str) dec Siegel (Tun) 5-0; 160 – Markowitz (DV) dec Powell (NE) 6-0; Bonshak (White) tech fall Leyland (RC) 17-2, 4:04; 195 – Uhrin (VV) pinned Robinson (Cre) 2:57.