Abington Heights finished 10th out of 12 teams in the District 2 Class 3A Wrestling Tournament and Lackawanna Trail placed ninth out of 15 in the Class 2A tourney Feb. 23-24 at the Kingston Armory.
Three Abington Heights wrestlers qualified for the Class 3A Northeast Regional Tournament March 2-3 at Bethlehem Liberty High School by placing in the top four positions at districts.
Senior Christopher Langan won an 8-1 decision over Hazleton Area sophomore Jake Marnell in the third-place match in the 170-pound weight class. Langan (29-14) will face Archbishop Wood junior Billy Grace (17-20) in his first match at regionals.
Langan lost his first two matches and had a early exit at regionals while competing at 152 pounds last year. He has much higher goals this time around.
“Last year, it really opened my eyes as to the competition down there,” Langan said. “It’s really difficult. This year, my game plan is a lot different at practice. I’m trying to stay in good position more often and to scramble better. I’m also trying to push the pace and work on my conditioning.
“My goal is to go to states. I need to have my head on straight, have to have fun and be relaxed. I’m going to have to be on fire to do it, but top four is the goal.”
Abington Heights head coach Steve Peters believes Langan’s trip to regionals last year will pay dividends.
“I feel like not very many people are successful their first year,” Peters said. “It takes that experience to see what the level of competition is like because we don’t exactly have that level of intensity locally. Just getting there, seeing what it’s like and being able to go back for a second year is a big leg up.
“He was motivated to get back and be more successful. Last year, he got eliminated Friday night and wasn’t back for the second day. He’s stronger, he’s more experienced and has benefited from going to tournaments in the offseason.”
Junior Jacob Rosenstein was pinned by Coughlin senior Josh Brown in 2:00 in the third-place match in the 138-pound weight class at districts. Rosenstein (24-13) will face Nazareth sophomore Nathan Stefanik (19-6) in his first match at regionals.
“It took a lot of dedication and heart to get to regionals,” Rosenstein said. “I’m feeling pretty optimistic about it. Our region is the toughest in the whole country, so it’s not going to be easy to make it to states but to get there would be awesome.”
Peters has noticed a huge improvement in Rosenstein’s wrestling this season.
“He was an alternate (at regionals) last year and he’s gotten so much better,” Peters said. “He’s hit a new level. He’s moving better, he’s in better shape and his mental strength is better.”
Junior Aidan Price lost a 5-3 decision to Wyoming Valley West junior Jaylon Brunson in the third-place match in the 160-pound weight class at districts. Price (16-6) will face Bethlehem Catholic senior Michael Lewis (10-4) in his first match at regionals.
“It took a lot of hard work,” Price said. “You have to keep pushing through, every day. There are going to be a bunch of good wrestlers there, but I think I’m going to do pretty well. The goal is states, but I’m at least aiming for a win or two. I’m just going to go out there and wrestle my hardest.”
Peters feels Price has the ability to knock off anyone in his path during the upcoming tournament.
“He has a chance in every match,” Peters said. “We call it a pinner’s chance, as coaches. He’s always a threat to put somebody on their back no matter where he is or who he’s against.”
Lackawanna Trail senior Owen Hivner won the Class 2A title in the 170-pound weight class with a 9-1 major decision over Montrose senior Cole Aukema. Hivner (32-4) will face Jersey Shore junior Kyle Tomb (23-11) in the first round of the Class 2A Northeast Regional Tournament March 2 at Williamsport High School.
The top four finishers at each weight class in Class 2A and Class 3A will advance to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Championships March 8-10 in Hershey.
While it’s hard to project where his wrestlers might finish, Peters gives them all the same advice.
“We always tell them the same things: win all the matches you should, win more than half that could go either way and a couple that you have no business winning,” he said. “If we take that attitude down there, we can definitely make some noise.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.