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Hunter, Whiteman, Wickersham all suffer opening round setbacks

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    Jim Thorpe’s Derek Hunter escapes from Gerald Comedy of Washington during their 285-pound opening round bout. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

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    Nate Wickersham of Tamaqua tries to turn Cole Toy of Reynolds in their 170-pound opening round bout at the PIAA wrestling championships on Thursday morning. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

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    Lehighton’s Chris Whiteman (left) locks up with Shane Kemper of Burgettstown in their 145-pound opening round bout at the PIAA wrestling championships. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS

Published March 07. 2019 12:34PM


HERSHEY – Every point. Every second. Every minute.

They all matter.

And their significance is only heightened on the opening day of the PIAA Championships.

Three first-time state qualifiers — Jim Thorpe’s Derek Hunter, Lehighton’s Chris Whiteman and Tamaqua’s Nate Wickersham — all lost their opening bouts Thursday morning at the Giant Center in what was a learning experience for the trio, who are all still alive in the consolation bracket.

Hunter and Washington’s Gerald Comedy were tied 1-1 in the third period of their 285-pound preliminary bout before Comedy got a takedown near the edge of the mat with 40 seconds remaining in the period.

Hunter got an escape with 30 seconds to go, but couldn’t find enough offense to go ahead.

“That takedown that we gave up there on the edge was huge,” said Olympians head coach Shawn Albert. “We’ll talk to him about that. But you have to put everything that you have out there. There’s not going to be one guy that he wrestles that’s going to be easy.

“We’re going to take it for what it is, as a learning experience. But we’re not done yet. So we have to get ready for the wrestlebacks, and get our mind right at this point.”

Wickersham and Cole Toy of Reynolds were scoreless after the first period at 170 pounds. Toy grabbed momentum with a reversal and two back points for a 4-0 lead in the second.

“They were both nervous,” said Raiders’ head coach Jim McCabe. “I said to my assistant coach, ‘the first person to score points here is going to gain a little bit of confidence.’

“There were 15 seconds left (in the second) and it’s 0-0, just cut him and get the one point. He tried to dive back in and hold on, and the kid got the reversal and the back points with the cradle. That’s the learning experience here.”

Wickersham, like Whiteman making his first appearance at states, will look for redemption in the consolation round.

“He’s gotta take that for all it’s worth, and learn from that situation,” said McCabe. “And look for the positive now. He didn’t wrestle a bad match. Nothing negative to say, just a learning experience.

“He had to have a short memory and forget about it.”

Burgettstown’s Shane Kemper got the first takedown on Whiteman in their 145-pound match. Kemper scored three back points near the end of the first period to build a 5-1 advantage.

After a scoreless second period, Kemper secured the fall in 4:25.

“I wish I would have wrestled a little better,” said Whiteman. “I didn’t do too well on bottom. But I just have to come back strong in the next one.”

Whiteman will wrestle a first round consolation match later this afternoon.

“I just have to go all out in this one,” he said. “If I don’t win it, it’s over. I just have to pick myself up, and wrestle tough in this next one.”

Jim Thorpe’s Ethan Mordant (220), Lehighton’s Logan Pagotto (152) and Tamaqua’s Bronson Strouse (285) all had first round byes.

Action continued Thursday with first round matches and first round consolations. The quarterfinals and second round consolations are scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday, with third round consolations to follow at 11:45.



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