South Williamsport's Christian Cioffi bolted to his feet after pinning North Penn's Jake Myers, then circled the mat while pumping his right arm, screaming toward the ceiling of the Montoursville High School gym. He then tore his singlet all the way off his chest while sprinting from the scorers' table to the officials' table after his victory in the 120-pound finals in the District 4 Class AA West Sectional.
About 20 minutes later, Bucktail's Demetri Probst stood up after pinning Loyalsock's Tyler Eubanks in the 138-pound final, shook some hands, and then walked away with nary a smile.
Some celebrations make Ray Lewis at the Super Bowl sheepish by comparison. Others make the kid look like he just picked up a gimme par putt. For some, a championship in the first weekend of the high school wrestling individual postseason is the highlight of the year. For others, it's already time to think about next weekend's District 4 Class AA championships at Williamsport High School with everyone else who finished in the top three in their weight at sectionals.
Cioffi is taking six other teammates with him, tied for the second-highest total of any school Saturday. His victory was the first of three individual titles for the Mounties, as Andrew Gipe and Nate Jones won at 126 and 132, respectively. Other South wrestlers finishing in the top three and advancing were runners-up Justin Knee (170), Tyler Jenkins (195), Marco Estrella (285) and third-place finisher Tyler Webb-Verbeski (113).
Cioffi, a junior entering at 13-3, hoped to avenge a 9-1 regular-season loss to Montgomery's top seed Kobe Galentine in the finals, but Galentine was pinned by Myers in 5:52 before finishing third. Even more unexpected for Cioffi, Myers took him down in the first period and then put him on his back in the second period of their final before Cioffi reversed the momentum for a pin in 3:15.
"I was hoping, I figured my guys could pull it off," said Cioffi. "We really wrestled tough. Usually we don't have more than three guys in districts, and now we have seven."
Probst is one of three Bucks headed to next weekend, as Matt Horton finished second at 152 and Aaron Cohick was third at 106. Probst's junior season last year ended in regionals one victory short of states, and his 20-2 record this year was the second best in the entire section. He won two pins Saturday in a combined 4:12 while recovering from minor flu-like symptoms.
Even with Probst's experience, Bucktail wrestlers from more than an hour away at the northern end of Clinton County can be a bit of a mystery to the rest of this field, since they don't compete in many of the same places in the regular season.
"We're usually the underdogs, and it's really exciting to come out here and perform," said Probst. "We know a lot of people back home really appreciate it."
Sugar Valley Rural Charter, from the southern end of Clinton County and a three-time Bucktail opponent this winter, was shut out of districts after 220-pounder Hunter Raudabaugh was pinned in the third period of his consolation final after taking a 5-0 lead.
Canton took the team title with 138.5 points, having four champions in Dennis Route (113), Jacob Butcher (152), Garrett Wesneski (182), and Connor Route (195) and two third-place finishers. North Penn was second with 130.5 points and champions Ben Minnich (170) and Nate Kriner (285) among its seven wrestlers advancing. Montoursville, third with 117 points, advanced the most wrestlers with eight.
Montgomery finished fifth at 89.5 and advanced six wrestlers including champions Kyle Drick (106) and Isaiah Bobotas (160). Loyalsock was sixth with 81.5 points and advanced five.
Canton coach Lyle Wesneski noted that every one of his 13 wrestlers earned a team point, even though just six wrestlers advanced. He also felt good for seniors Darren Killian (138) and Josiah Bardo (160) who finished third.
"Today was about everyone doing their part," said Lyle Wesneski. "We're a young team, really, and they really worked hard. I'm happy. I really am."