ALTOONA - Going into the Northwest Class AAA Regional Wrestling tournament, the Sun-Gazette coverage area teams qualified a total of 23 wrestlers for possible regional honors and a trip to the state meet.
When the smoke cleared at the Altoona Field House Saturday night, the area teams qualified five wrestlers for the state championships in Hershey that begin Thursday.
Williamsport's 120-pounder Roshaun Cooley is among them.
Showing his ability to mat wrestle in tight situations, Cooley hung on to down Bellefonte freshman Brock Port 3-2 in the semifinals to earn his trip.
"We wrestled each other quite a bit up at Mat Town so we knew each other a little bit," said Cooley about Port. "I had confidence going into the match that I was going to win."
Staring opportunity right in the face, Cooley wasn't about to let history repeat itself. One year ago he lost his semifinal bout and then dropped his first consolation bout to fall short of the medal round.
"It was a little bit of both (taking care of punching ticket and confidence)," said Cooley. "I had a chip on my shoulder when the season ended last year so I just wanted to go out there, win and make it to Hershey. Now my goal is to medal."
In the finals, the Williamsport junior ran into to state medalist Jake Gromacki of Erie Prep
Cooley's teammates, Braden Bower and Richard Lowrie, weren't as fortunate as they both dropped consolation bout in the second round and fell out of the competition.
Central Mountain qualified three wrestlers for the state tournament, a group that included runners-up Demetri Probst and Chad Reese along with third-place finisher Gavin Caprio.
"I think overall we had a good tournament," said Central Mountain head coach Doug Buckwalter. "Tournaments always have some ups and downs, but the three guys who worked real hard getting ready for this did a real great job. They have another week to work on things to get ready for the tournament, but they were there for the state duals so I think they'll be ready. For the three guys who came up real close, I feel bad for them."
Jersey Shore finished the tournament with one state qualifier as Haydn Swartwood was extended to the limit for a 3-1 overtime win over Josh Schuckers of Punxsutawney.
Swartwood lost his semifinal bout, but bounced back to win two in a row for his trip to the big show.
"This is what everyone works for, going to the state tournament," said Swartwood. "Right now I am speechless. I owe a lot to my workout partner Colton Killion and I love Chocolate so I can't wait to go there."
As for his opponent, Swartwood had a lot of good things to say about Schuckers.
"He is great on bottom and I lost to 7-2 to him in districts," said Swartwood. "I stepped it up this week and I knew I had to if I wanted to make it to states. He beat me last year and knocked me out of the tournament, but now this year, I got my revenge."
Shore head coach Shawn Weaver is looking forward to having Swartwood in his wrestling room for two more years.
"Haydn has all the talent in the world," said Weaver. "He started out this year wrestling extremely well at the Top Hat and he then ran into a streak of six or seven matches in a row where he wrestled really tough kids. He lost some close matches along with some of his confidence, but fortunately for him, he was able to get that back. For him to lose a match, bounce back to win the next one and then the one that really counted was huge for him."
The Bulldogs narrowly missed an opportunity for another state participant, but Seth Young's strong tournament came to end with a 10-4 loss to Ethan Laird of General McLane.
"For him to come in here as a sophomore and do that he did was outstanding," said Weaver. "Nobody expected him to be here so he can really be proud of the tournament he had."