HERSHEY – It's hard not to be nervous right before stepping on the mat during a big tournament.
Three Wyoming Valley Conference wrestlers got past those early jitters Thursday morning to advance to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 2A Championships at Giant Center.
Even Vito Pasone, Austin Harry and Andy Schutz, who may be the three of the most relaxed wrestlers from the WVC before normal matches, dealt with nerves before moving to the next round.
"Everyone gets nervous when you're at this stage," said Harry, Lake-Lehman's 126-pounder who won his first match with a fall.
Harry was joined by Meyers' Pasone (113 pounds) and Wyoming Area's Schutz (132) as Thursday's winners.
Pasone was beating Bishop McDevitt's Terrence White 2-1 in the second period before he finally shook off the antsy feelings and notched a fall. The pin came at the 5:03 mark with the Mohawk up 7-1. That's when White was trying to come out from the bottom and Pasone threw in a headlock and notched the pin.
"I was hoping to build up a bigger lead than that because at one point it got a little close and he was getting close on some shots," Pasone said. "To get that first-round pin is big, but now it's a step on what I really want to achieve."
In today's quarters, Pasone will face Ligonier Valley's Joshua Patrick, who Pasone defeated in last year's first round.
Harry was trailing 2-0 after getting caught in an underhook and being taken down just two seconds into the match against Philadelphia-Mont Christian's Richie Cerebe. But Harry didn't allow another point and got a fall with a bar tilt just before the second period ended in 3:59. He will take on Keystone Oaks' Nick Zanetta in the quarterfinals.
"I was surprised (about the fast takedown). But nothing you can do about that, you just have to keep wrestling," noted Harry, who won his first match last year but was eliminated after that and didn't medal. "I said I wanted to place this year and that's one match; one to go."
Schutz, Wyoming Area's first participant since 1996, rolled to a 7-0 win over Brennon Shields from South Huntingdon at 132.
Even though the junior admitted to being jittery, he didn't show any nervousness. He got a takedown before three back points to open a 5-0 lead at the end of the first period. If not for an impressive bridge by Shields, Schutz would have got a pin as well. A third-period reversal accounted for the other two points in the shutout for the Warrior.
"It's a nice feeling when you get a nice three-count, you're pretty much cruising then so it felt good.," Schutz said about his back points. "It's halfway (to a medal). That first match is half the battle."
Schutz's next opponent is Biglerville senior Laike Gardner, the champion from the Southwest Regional.
A pair of other WVC standouts didn't fare as well, getting eliminated from Class 2A competition.
Dallas' Dominic DeGraba and Meyers' Darren Stucker both lost their first two matches.
DeGraba, a 106-pound junior, ended his season with a 42-10 mark and a regional and district championship. He lost a pair of decisions, 10-3 and 4-1, on Thursday.
Being an underclassmen, it was a learning experience for DeGraba, who will look to advance again next season as the Mountaineers bump up to Class 3A.
"You got 16 of the best wrestlers in the state down here. There are no bad wrestlers here," Dallas coach Mike Richards said. "I think he wrestled to his capability, it just didn't go his way.
"He's already talking next year and he wants to be back here and I think that's going to drive him in getting the feel for it and the taste for it. Even though we're going triple A I don't see a reason why he can't. I think he's good enough to do that."
Stucker saw his season end, getting pinned in the preliminaries and losing via an 8-1 decision in the first round of consolations. The 145-pound senior ended his season with a 24-7 record.
"He wrestled nervous today," Meyers coach Ron Swingle said about his 145-pounder. "Once the matches got going, he was fine but he gave up too much in the beginning and dug himself a hole."