HERSHEY – For the first time in the last nine years, District 2 will not have representative in the PIAA Class 3A Championships' finals.
The district entered Friday's 3A tournament with four contestants in the quarterfinals, but all four dropped their bouts.
Only one of them, Coughlin 285-pounder Brad Emerick rebounded to win his second-round consolation match and stave off elimination.
Hazleton Area's Chad Hoffman, a 195-pound senior, is the only other remaining Wyoming Valley Conference wrestler guaranteed a medal in Class 3A today. Hoffman also won his consolation bout.
"I'm just going to try to wrestle back for third now," Emerick said. "That's the best I can do so I'm going to go as hard as possible to get there."
Crestwood's Kyle Hankinson (145 pounds) dropped his quarterfinal then lost his next match and was eliminated. Pittston Area's Chris Wesolowski (285) was dispatched from the tournament after a loss in the consolations to Emerick.
Delaware Valley's Marc Wagner (170) and Martin Strenk (182) were the other two grapplers from District 2 to lose twice after getting to the quarters.
Emerick went up against defending state champion Averee Robinson from Susquehanna Township in the quarters. The Crusader could only manage a second-period escape against Robinson in the 6-1 setback.
Emerick tried to work a tilt – a move he has had success with in the past – on Robinson twice, but the slick and strong Robinson broke free both times for an escape point. After both escapes, Robinson took down Emerick to hand the Coughlin junior his first loss of the season.
"I thought I worked him real hard, and had him huffing and puffing in the third period, so I thought I could take advantage but it didn't work out in my favor," Emerick said. "He caught me off-guard. I didn't know a kid could move that quick on bottom. I'll just work forward from here."
Emerick rebounded from that loss to secure a state medal with a win over Pittston Area's Chris Wesolowski in the second round of consolations. The matchup marked the sixth time the two squared off this season. Emerick won the match 11-0, but it was the first time Wesolowski wasn't pinned when he faced Emerick.
"He seemed more enthusiastic wrestling this time then the past times because when I wrestled him in the past, there really was no need for a win. It was just another wrestling match," added Emerick, who improved his record this season to 41-1. "This time it meant something to place (at states)."
Hoffman spent a total of 35 seconds on the mat Friday against DuBois junior Landon Hanna. The Cougar got the early takedown and three back points to go up 5-0 before Hanna had to stop the match with an injury, giving Hoffman the default win.
Hoffman, who is shooting for a third-place medal to improve on last year's eight-place showing, said Hanna was hurt prior to the quarterfinal match and that's what contributed to his early exit.
Although it's a quick and easy win, Hoffman doesn't see any drawbacks.
"From my point of view, it makes things a lot more relaxed," Hoffman said. "I'm feeling the best I've ever felt down here. I just love wrestling here and the atmosphere gets me going. It's a good motivational thing when you go up 5-0 so I'm feeling good from there."
Hankinson ends his career with the Comets abruptly with 96 career wins. He entered the state tournament as the Northeast Regional runner-up and a two-time district champion.
Wesolowski, a senior, had a breakthrough season for the Patriots. After not placing in the district tournament his previous seasons, he not only was regional runner-up, but also won a match at the state tournament to become the first Patriot to get a win in Hershey since Robbie Robinson in 2008.
9 a.m. – Semifinals and third round consolations
11:30 a.m. – Fourth round consolations
6:45 p.m. – Parade of champions
7 p.m. – Finals and third, fifth, seventh-place bouts
1:45 p.m. – Parade of champions
2 p.m. – Finals and third, fifth, seventh-place bouts
TV: The finals can be seen live on PCN