Williamsport’s Cooley wins opening match at PIAA Championships

HERSHEY – Williamsport’s Roshaun Cooley isn’t exactly sure how it was he got the third-period reversal which sprung him to a 120-pound preliminary-round win Thursday.

“I just kept wrestling,” the junior said.

He had one-point all but in hand against Belle Vernon’s Brendan Hasson in the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships. But as he squared up with Hasson, he drove into his legs, turning what would have been a one-point escape into a two-point reversal.

Cooley fought off a pair of shots by Hasson in the final 15 seconds to win his first match at states, 2-1. It was the first win by a Williamsport wrestler in the state tournament since Leroy Harman won a consolation match in 2010.

Cooley needs just one win in his two matches he’ll wrestle today to become the first Millionaires state placewinner since Matt Mapes and Mac Rohaly in 1995.

“It’s nothing to lose down here,” Cooley said. “You have to go out here and perform and stay loose.”

Neither wrestler scored a takedown in the match, and Cooley would have liked to have been more active on his feet, he said. But his backup plan was to get to the bottom position where he thought he could score some points.

He finally got there in a scoreless match in the third period after a brilliant two-minute ride of Hasson in the second period. He got his reversal 35 seconds into the third period for a 2-0 lead, and rode Hasson again for over a minute before giving up an escape.

Cooley had over 3 minutes of riding time in the match.

“I’d like to get more going on my feet, but he was pretty solid,” Cooley said. “Everyone here is good. You have to wrestle your match. It was 0-0, so you have to be able to put points on the board somehow to win.”

The task for Cooley to medal won’t be an easy one. He faces two-time state placewinner and returning third-place finisher Scott Parker of Pennridge in this afternoon’s quarterfinals. If he were to lose that, he’d wrestle an elimination match with Erie Cathedral Prep’s Jake Gromacki, a three-time state placewinner who was upset in the preliminary round. Gromacki beat Cooley in the regional final, 7-0.

“It’s one match at a time here and focus on the little things,” Cooley said. “For me, that’s move my feet, stay in good position and finish my shots.”

Cooley was one of three local wrestlers to win their preliminary-round bout in the Class AAA tournament. Central Mountain’s Demetri Probst (145 pounds) and Chad Reese (160) both won. Probst, a first-time state qualifier who was a two-time regional fourth-place finisher for Bucktail each of the past two years, faces returning state champion Solomon Chishko of Canon McMillan in the quarters. Reese, who defeated Wyoming Valley’s West’s Cody Cordes, 2-1, faces Central Dauphin former state champion Garrett Peppleman in the 160 quarters.

Central Mountain’s Gavin Caprio (170) and Jersey Shore’s Hadyn Swartwood (145) were both eliminated after losing twice Thursday.