WILKES-BARRE — He’s a three-time District 2 Class 2A champ, and has only been defeated less than 10 times in his three varsity seasons.
Yet, Colin Pasone and Williamsport have had a love-hate relationship.
Pasone, the Meyers’ 113-pound junior, didn’t even wrestle his freshman season in the Magic Dome – even though he won a district title. That’s because an injury in the district final cut his postseason short.
In 2015, he entered the PIAA Class 2A Northeast Regional as a No. 2 seed at 106. Expectations were high for the then-sophomore star – who was wrestling well entering the tournament.
Championship dreams, though, were cut short. He was upset by Montoursville’s Wyatt Lutz in his first match, 5-4.
Sure, Pasone showed heart – ripping through three straight matches in the consolation round to bring home third-place honors and a trip to the PIAA Class 2A state tournament. A great achievement, absolutely.
Yet, short of his goal.
“A tough loss,” Pasone said of 2015. “But getting that first taste of what Williamsport was like is going to help me out. You have to experience it to really get a sense of what it’s like. The Williamsport gym could be a hostile place, especially if you are a District 2 wrestler, but you have to block it out. I want to be a regional champion.”
No doubt, Pasone has all the tools and talent.
Just look at District 2 Class 2A tournament.
The junior spent less than two minutes on the mat in three matches. That includes a 14-second fall in the semifinals, and a 67-second win in the championship after running a half-nelson.
It’s kind of like a snapshot of his season.
He’s 36-2, and has more than 90 wins in his career. Both of his losses, coming at 120, are respectable – a setback to Luke Carty of powerhouse Bethlehem Catholic and a four-point defeat to Line Mountain junior Cole Hauck, who is also wrestling in Williamsport this weekend.
Pasone has pinned eight of his last 12 opponents, and also picked up a late-season victory over Scranton’s Joshua Rivera – who just won the 113-pound title at the District 2 Class 3A tournament.
“I am confident. I’m wrestling better than I have been compared to past seasons. Hopefully, I can start to peak,” Pasone said. “The key is when you start to peak. You want to begin to peak at regionals, and hopefully, you can be wrestling your best at the state tournament.”
Regionals won’t be easy.
Top-seed Alan Diltz of Benton is 29-2, and won the 106-pound regional crown last season. Lewisburg’s Brian Friery, the No. 3 seed, finished third at the weight in Williamsport in 2015.
Pasone will start his journey toward gold with Warrior Run’s Trey Heiss, a 32-match winner.
“He started to shut down a little bit last season because he was worried about giving up points,” Meyers head coach Ron Swingle said. “You are at that stage right now where you have to win those ugly positions. You are going to give up points. There is no way to avoid it. You have to understand that going in, and know that some matches are going to be ugly. You just want to fight through those matches and come out on top. That’s all you can really do at this point. We want him to open up, score as many points as he could and stay aggressive. When you last whistle goes off, you will know if you won or lost when you look at the scoreboard.”
Freshmen on display
District 2 will send a total of four freshmen to the regional tournament, two of them from the Wyoming Valley Conference.
Lake-Lehman’s Bob Long earned the No. 2 seed at 106, and starts off with another newbie, Montgomery freshman Brandon Daldo.
“Our coaches always tell us that we get what we earn, so when I get out there, all the nerves go away,” Long said. “When I am on the mat, I just focus on my opponent. It’s me vs. him, and that’s why I love this sport. You don’t have to rely on someone else. It’s up to you, and you control how you wrestle.”
Hanover’s Owen Davis, 28-14, opens up with District 4 runner-up Gage Cannavino of Athens.
Kendrick Beyer remembers the path Charlie Johnson took toward a regional title at 126 in 2015.
Now, the Wyoming Area junior is hoping to replicate the journey his former teammate took last season. Beyer, seeded No. 2 at 126, opens up with Hughesville’s Trevor Sones on Friday.
“I’m happy I finally won a district title. It feels like it took me forever,” Beyer said. “I was in position two years ago to win a district title but I had to face the famous Austin Harry, and well, it didn’t turn out too well for me. I’m just going to take it one match at a time, and hopefully, I’ll make a run at it like Charlie did. I’ve pushed myself in the offseason, and we have a good coaching staff.”
Wyoming Area will send three other grapplers to Williamsport: Patrick Heck (132), Zachary Briggs (170) and Adam Buczynski (182).
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @tlsports.