HERSHEY - Chad Reese stormed off the Giant Center floor, muttering to himself the put-downs usually meant for a wrestler who just lost.
But Reese had just won. Not only had the Central Mountain senior won, but his 5-1 win over Boyertown's Gregg Harvey secured his first state medal. But still, there was anger emanating from the senior as we walked briskly to the back hallways of the Giant Center at the PIAA Wrestling Championships.
Reese was one of eight local wrestlers to guarantee themselves a medal with wins in either the quarterfinals, or the second round of consolations Friday, but he may have been the only one to have been upset about it.
"That's just Chad," Central Mountain head coach Doug Buckwalter said with a smile.
Reese, a state qualifier last year, becomes Central Mountain's first state placewinner since Brian Brill finished second in 2012. And he had to regroup to claim his state medal less than two hours after losing by technical fall in the quarterfinals to Central Dauphin's Garrett Peppelman, a 2012 Class AAA state champion who is ranked No. 3 in the country.
Reese was one of seven local wrestlers who will earn a state medal today without reaching the state finals.
"Obviously, Peppelman is a good wrestler, but there may have been some doubts in that match which kills you when you wrestle kids like that," Reese said of his quarterfinal. "But I think there was definitely an urgency to place (in the consolation match). This is what you've worked for all your high school career."
Reese wrestled with that sense of urgency he talked about, scoring an early takedown to take the lead. He carried a 3-1 lead into the third period where he scored a final takedown to seal the win over Harvey.
"He came out real hard and I wasn't expecting that in the first period," Reese said. "But I think I slowed him down and tired him out a little bit. Everyone in this consolation round is going to be coming out hard. It's either lose and go home or win and get on the podium."
It won't be until this morning's consolation and semifinal rounds that Reese will find out what place he's going to wrestle for. Reese will wrestle Abington Heights' Matt Carr in the consolation quarterfinals this morning. A win and he's guaranteed a top-six finish, a loss and he'll wrestle for seventh.
"I think that helps a lot sometimes, knowing you're on the podium," Reese said. "Either way, you're placing, so from here on I can keep going and wrestle my style."
Canton's Garrett Wesneski heard his coaches telling him to cut Bermudian Springs' Tristan Sponseller late in the third period of his Class AA 195-pound semifinal Friday night. But he felt like he was so close to turning the returning state runner-up for the winning score that he didn't want to cut him, even trailing by a point.
Wesneski, whose prowess from the top position made Sponseller hesitate before choosing bottom in the third period, had arm bars, tilts and even a cradle locked in. He never did expose Sponseller's back for the needed near-fall points, and lost 2-1.
Wesneski will wrestle for third place today. It's his second consecutive state medal.
"On good kids, I get those turns each. On him, I didn't get them," Wesneski said. "He knew I was going to be good on top, so he kind of went freestyle mode and kept a good base."
The match with Sponseller - a Lock Haven recruit who beat Muncy's Troy Hembury for third place at 170 pounds in 2012 - was the matchup Wesneski has been looking for all year. Sponseller has been the top-ranked 195-pounder all season and Wesneski has been No. 2 since they were the only returning state placewinners at the weight.
Wesneski said he walked away from the match satisfied having gotten a shot to beat Sponseller, but still with a little empty feeling because he won't be in today's 195-pound final.
"(Saturday) morning I get to prove why me and Sponseller should have been on separate sides of the bracket," Wesneski said after beating Logan Womelsdorf, 5-0, in the consolation semifinals. "I'm satisfied that I got a chance to get him, which is what I wanted. It's just a bummer that I didn't come out on top. It just wasn't meant to be, I guess."
Milton's Ryan Preisch, one of the favorites to reach the state final, lost in rideout in his 160-pound semifinal to South Fayette's Jared Walker. Walker's head and hands defense never let Preisch get any penetration on his feet for a takedown attempt.
The two traded escapes through the first three periods, and again in the two 30-second tie-break periods. Preisch selected bottom in rideout after Walker held him down for a total of 26 seconds the two previous times he selected bottom. But Walker kept a tight wrap on Preisch's waist with both for all 30 seconds. He then caught Preisch on his back in the final seconds as he scrambled to escape to win, 5-2.
Muncy's Dakota Nixon, in his first state semiifinal, was pinned at 145 by Kittanning's Jason Nolf, a two-time state champion with just one loss in his career.