Lackawanna Trail’s Owen Hivner has already won two postseason wrestling tournaments and will try to capture a third title during the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class 2A Championships March 8-10 at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The senior credited the Lackawanna Trail coaching staff for helping him evolve as a wrestler.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys,” he said. “They taught me new moves that fit my body type and have helped so much this year. They are a phenomenal group of coaches.”
Hivner (35-4), who wrestles in the 170-pound weight class, defeated Berwick freshman Brandon Spezialetti (5-18) by pinfall, in 1:01, in the quarterfinals, won a 6-0 decision over Hanover Area senior Mike Lenahan (22-13) in the semis and defeated Montrose senior Cole Aukema (29-8) by a 9-1 major decision to win the District 2 Class 2A title Feb. 23-24 at the Kingston Armory.
Hivner defeated Jersey Shore junior Kyle Tomb (23-13) by a 7-3 decision in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A Northeast Regionals at Williamsport High School.
“He dominated most of the match and kept the pressure on,” Lackawanna Trail head coach Keith Youtz said.
Hivner won a 7-4 decision over Muncy junior Mike Kustanbauter (43-8), who placed fifth at regionals, to move on to the championship bout and clinch at berth in the state tournament.
“I felt like I had a 500-pound weight on my shoulders, because if I won that match I’d be guaranteed to go to states,” Hivner said. “It was the toughest match, mentally, and he was a good wrestler. It came down to the final seconds, I was up a point with 15 seconds to go and scored two (more) with three seconds left.”
With a trip to the state tournament locked up, Hivner pinned Southern Columbia senior Anthony Scicchitano (35-13) in 55 seconds to take the regional title March 3.
“He leaned back and drove (Scicchitano’s) head down for about five to 10 seconds,” Youtz said. “The kid slipped and Owen hooked his leg in a very tight cradle.”
Hivner is looking forward to seeing the spectacle of the state championships for the first time.
“From what everybody is telling me, there’s a lot of people there,” he said. “The number quadruples from districts and regionals. I’m excited for the crowd and overall scene. It will be a new environment like I’ve never been around.”
While he would like to claim another title, Hivner is striving to at least finish near the top.
“Placing in the top 4 is definitely a goal,” he said. “Anything can happen, and of course I’d like to win, but I’d be happy with a top-four finish.”
Youtz believes Hivner has the potential to have a strong showing at the state championships.
Hivner will wrestle the winner of the match between Littlestown junior Carl Harris (30-4) and Burrell junior Austin Mele (27-22) in his first match.
“He had a really good regional tournament,” Youtz said. “District 4 has some really tough wrestlers and he beat three of them. I knew he was good enough to do it, but any one of them could have beaten him, too.
“I think he will be in good shape to place if he wins his first match. If not, it’s going to be a battle to get back through.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.