Sitting on the cold, tiled floor in the hallway just behind the Magic Dome, Williamson's Trevor McWhorter tried to catch his breath as he talked to a member of his family and sipped on a Gatorade.
A trainer came by a leaned down, asking the senior 138-pounder how he was doing following his 4-2 win in the PIAA Class AA Northeast Regionals quarterfinals Friday night. Without missing a beat, McWhorter emphatically told the trainer he was fine.
This was one of the same trainers who helped stabilize McWhorter's head and neck a week ago as he was being prepared to be loaded on to a stretcher during the District 4 wrestling finals. A week later, there's nothing to worry about for McWhorter, a returning state qualifier.
Hughesville's Zach Fry wrestles Wyoming Area's Kendrick Beyer during a 132-pound match Friday night at Williamsport. Fry won, 4-0. View additional photos at cu.sungazette.com.
"I feel as good as I did last week," McWhorter said following his win over Blue Ridge's Dalton Hogle. "I just have to be a little more careful."
McWhorter was one of 26 local wrestlers to win their quarterfinal bout Friday night earning a spot in the regional semifinals, which will be wrestled this morning at 9:30. Five local wrestlers upset a District 2 champion - Montgomery's Kyle Drick, Muncy's Dakota Nixon, Lewisburg's Max Reed, Montoursville's Lucas Shaheen and Canton's Connor Route - as District 2 wrestlers went 6-36 on the first night of the tournament.
"Nothing's ever easy here, but it's a confidence booster," said Shaheen, who beat Lake-Lehman's Brady Butler with a takedown in the final 10 seconds. "I'll try and take this into my next match."
But McWhorter's return was the story Friday night. The senior was taken out of the Magic Dome a week ago on a stretcher after he hit his head off the knee of Southern Columbia's Kent Lane in the 138-pound final. McWhorter was immediately stabilized by on-site trainers and there was a 30-minute delay during the finals as he was wheeled out and taken to a local hospital.
The injury wasn't nearly as serious as initially thought, McWhorter said last night. He said it was diagnosed as a concussion even though he had no symptoms of a concussion and nothing harmful was found during a CAT scan.
McWhorter was watched closely during the week, but had no symptoms of a concussion other than a slight headache Sunday for which he said he didn't even need painkillers. He rode an exercise bike on Tuesday and worked on a treadmill Wednesday to better check for any symptoms of a concussion, but with nothing being found he participated fully in practice with his Williamson teammates on Thursday.
Friday night he looked just like the wrestler who entered the District 4 tournament with an undefeated record. He scored points early to build a 4-1 lead against Hogle. He was sharp and aggressive on his feet.
"I knew my conditioning wouldn't be as good without workouts this week," McWhorter said. "I knew I had to wrestle smart, come out strong and get a lead. I feel like I'm as good as I was last week."
Maybe the only hiccup for McWhorter was being ridden out the entire third period by Hogle (29-9). That's a problem McWhorter is familiar with, though.
"Bottom is by far my worst position," McWhorter said. "I almost got out and tried to pull him back in to get a stall call. I should have cut him. It's one of those in-match decisions, I guess."
McWhorter faces Bloomsburg's Cody Klinger in this morning's semifinals. Klinger upset District 2 champion Morgan Fuller of Western Wayne in last night's quarterfinals.
But the goal of McWhorter is to get another shot in the finals. His injury default last week came just 1:18 into his match with Lane.
"The final definitely didn't end my way," McWhorter said. "But I figure this week will be a little different."
Route knew he was in for a battle in his quarterfinal matchup with GAR's Zac Faust. Faust came in as maybe District 2's second-best for a regional champion. He had just one loss this year and it came to 220-pound top seed Dylan Otis of Wyalusing in a 3-2 match.
Faust and Route had wrestled before in tight matches during their time in junior high, so Route knew it was going to be a tight match. And that's exactly what the Canton senior got.
The two traded escapes heading into the final minute of the third period. Route was able to fight off a pair of Faust shots toward the end of the third period to force overtime.
In overtime Route, who weighed in around 195 pounds all year, got in deep on a double-leg shot and drove Faust to his back. Faust tried to flip Route over to his back, but Route held his position and got the fall 40 seconds into overtime.
"I knew I was in goof position with my quick shots and I'd be able to at least get myself in position to win," Route said. "That's what I did in the third period. It worked out beautifully. I'm so happy right now."
The win puts Route into a semifinal against Montoursville's Ben Cerney this morning. The two have not met this year, but the winner will earn their first state tournament berth. For Route, that's the goal and that's where his focus is in his last chance to go to Hershey.
"I'm focused on the goal, which is states. That match was all about fighting for it," Route said. "Being a senior, that's my goal and that's what's pushing me right now."
Shaheen pulled off a last-second win against Lake-Lehman's Butler in their 182-pound quarterfinal that was a gradual, step-by-step comeback. He gave up the first takedown to Butler. But he got an escape before the end of the first period, and added another in the third period to tie the score at 2-2.
Then toward the end of the third period, Shaheen could see Butler (34-3) getting tired and took advantage of it. He got in deep on a shot and scored a takedown with about 10 seconds to go for a 4-2 win.
"If I show up to the match prepared, I feel like I can wrestle with anyone," Shaheen said. "I was a little slow in the first period, but I think I started to get it. I'm just trying my best in there to make something work."