Defenders end Tigers' eight-year Southern Sectional reign

Feb. 17—CATAWISSA — When Warrior Run was added to this year's District 4 Class 2A Southern Sectional, there was a good chance that a new champion would be crowned for the team title.

The Defenders made their presence known throughout Saturday's action as they cruised to the team title with 208 points, ending Southern Columbia's eight-year sectional reign. It hadn't been since 2015 that the Tigers didn't come away with a team title at the Southern Sectional.

"It was a goal coming in, and the kids wrestled well," said Warrior Run coach Jeremy Betz. "We had a goal, we had 12 kids that entered weight, we had a goal to get all 12 out — we got 11. I know it sounds greedy, but I mean that's what we want."

Warrior Run had the most wrestlers by far advance to next week's district tournament with 11 moving on. The reigning District 4 champions entered the day with 12 wrestlers after Aaron Crisman (114 pounds) was scratched before the matches commenced.

Of the 11 that qualified for districts, three Defenders won gold medals — Max Wirnsberger (133), Reagan Milheim (145) and Cameron Milheim (152). Wirnsberger, a sophomore, pinned Midd-West's Evan Maneval in under a minute for his first sectional title in two tries.

Reagan Milheim had to rally against Southern's Mason Barvitskie in order to collect his second gold medal at sectionals. Barvitskie led 1-0 in the final before Milheim worked a reversal with 34 seconds left to win 2-1 in a matchup of state-ranked wrestlers.

"Reagan's a gamer, and he thrives in situations like that in tough matches, so he had a lot of composure," Betz said. "It's good for him, it's a common opponent he's wrestled with a couple times last year as well. They are always close matches, so it's exciting to be able to go into a match knowing it's gonna be a dogfight."

Cameron Milheim joined his brother on the first-place medal stand when he secured a 13-4 major decision over Line Mountain's Dalton Schadel. Saturday marked the second sectional title for the American University commit.

Besides the three gold-medalists, Ryan Kemock (107), Gavin Hunter (127), Tyler Ulrich (139), Eli Butler (160), Cole Shupp (172), Isaiah Betz (189), Connor Parker (215) and Stone Allison (285) also punched their tickets to Williamsport.

"I think our guys competed well," Jeremy Betz said. "I think they scraped, contested points and we have some things to work on and have another week to be able to compete to shoe we're getting better."

Line Mountain came closest to Warrior Run with 174 team points. Like the Defenders, the Eagles crowned three champions in Brock Rothermel (114), Nolan Baumert (139) and Kohen Shingara (160).

Rothermel, who is coming off an oblique injury that sidelined him for the District 4 team duals, pinned Lewisburg's Nolan Altoft in 48 seconds in his debut at sectionals.

"It's great," Rothermel said about returning to the mat on Saturday. "At team districts, I was definitely itching to wrestle, so being here now it's awesome just being able to compete."

In a rematch of last season's 127 title match, Baumert avenged his loss with a 3-1 decision over Midd-West's Matthew Smith. Baumert led 3-0 after the second period but held off a rally after Smith made it closer with an escape in the final two minutes.

It was just Baumert's second win over Smith in seven matches between the two.

"This season, I really found a way to get in on my shot deep," Baumert said. "Got a nice, clean finish — it took time, but I took my time and I got my finish. It was key getting a takedown."

Shingara earned a gold medal after pinning Butler in 2:46. Bradyn Schadel (121), Dalton Schadel and Maxim Johnson (189) will also represent Line Mountain at next week's district tournament.

Mifflinburg accumulated 129 points and finished with three gold-medalists, which placed the Wildcats in third. Jack Gramly (107), Bradley Wagner (121) and Ben Straub (127) found themselves at the top of the podium for the Wildcats. Each wrestler won their first gold medals at sectionals on Saturday.

After finishing as a runner-up last season, Gramly defeated Midd-West's Mason Kerstetter in a 16-4 major decision in the final bout. Wagner registered a technical fall against Milton's Ty Locke while Straub had a much closer final match. Straub downed Hunter in a 1-0 decision after securing an escape late in the second period.

Lane Kenamond (133), Bryan Reeder (152) and Cyrus Douty (189) will also move on for Mifflinburg.

Lewisburg came in fourth place after collecting 119.5 points as a team. Altoft, Landon Michaels (121), Quinton Bartlett (133), Landon Wagner (139) and Chase Wenrich (172) will continue wrestling for the Green Dragons.

Wenrich, a returning state qualifier, was on the brink of elimination during a consolation match with Danville's Aaron Johnson. Johnson held a 10-3 lead before Wenrich pinned him in the third period to keep his season alive.

The hosts Tigers finished in fifth place with 119.5 points and six wrestlers qualifying for districts. Barvitskie, Rowen Humphrey (107), Kaden Zachman (114), Gavin Brown (121), Garrett Garcia (189) and Jude Bremigen (285) will have at least one more week on the mats.

Garcia and Bremigen were the only two Tigers to finish in first. Garcia pinned Isaiah Betz in the final to win his first sectional title in two years after missing his entire junior season due to an injury he sustained during football season earlier that year.

"It's good that he was here and he was able to get a couple matches today," said Southern coach Steve Pesarchick. "This is just one step to his goal. He's got big goals, so this was the first part of that goal."

Bremigen, who hadn't competed at heavyweight until Saturday, dominated with three pins, which included a win against Milton's Nate Lopez in the final.

According to Pesarchick, Bremigen decided late minute to move up to heavyweight.

"First time wrestling there, he's gotta get used to it," Pesarchick said. "But he will, he'll adapt to it, and he'll just get better each week."

Milton ended up in sixth place with 117 points and two champions in Alex Hoffman (172) and Cale Bastian (215). Hoffman defended his sectional title with a 3-2 decision over Shupp.

Bastian also defeated a Warrior Run wrestler with a pin against Parker. Bastian lost in the 189 sectional final to Bremigen last year in overtime.

"I think this year the big difference is me, my dad, my brother and my coaches, we've been preaching that the first takedown wins," Bastian said. "That stays true with the match last year in the sectional final. I didn't get a takedown immediately and it goes into overtime and I end up losing on ride out I believe it was. Just scoring those first points and then continuing to keep scoring on guys."

Locke, Lopez and Tyler Stokes (114) will also move onto Williamsport for the Black Panthers.

Midd-West took home a seventh-place finish with 105 points and advanced seven wrestlers: Smith, Kerstetter, Maneval, Charley Paige (145), Jay Yount (160), Grant Yount (172) and Bryce Hackenburg (215).

Mount Carmel (57), Danville (43) and Shamokin (22) took the final three spots. The Red Tornadoes advanced Lukas Carpenter (127), Ben Miller (152) and Maddox Lamas (285).

Sam Meloy (160) and Troy Raup (215) moved on for the Ironmen while Chase Pensyl was Shamokin's lone wrestler to punch his ticket to Williamsport at 145.