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Metzler strikes Sectional gold Five Barons advance
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Manheim Central’s Ben Metzler is known to turn a lot of his opponents using an arm bar.
And he appeared to be on the verge of doing it again last Saturday against Manheim Township’s top-seeded Matthew Grossmann in the 138-pound finals of the District Three Class AAA Section Three Wrestling Tourney.
That is, until the official halted action due to a dangerous position.
The match remained scoreless, but only for a brief time, as the Barons’ junior scored on an escape and made that stand up for a 1-0 win at Hempfield High School, giving Metzler his first Sectional crown.
It also clinched a return trip to the Hersheypark Arena for the District Three Triple-A Championships, set for this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23.
"I’m just looking forward to Districts right now," said Metzler, who improved to 27-6. "I want to make it to States, so (winning Sectionals) is important now, but I’ve got to really get it going on at Districts. That’s more important."
Joining Metzler in the finals from Manheim Central junior 195-pounder Rey LaSanta (24-8). Unfortunately, he was forced to injury default to Lampeter-Strasburg’s Jeff Pickel (31-1) due to a knee injury.
Overall, the Barons will send five to Hershey, including junior David Fantom (19-10) at 132, freshman Jared Siegrist (28-8) at 145 and senior Austin King (19-10) at 152, who won bronze and the final District berth in their respective weight classes.
"It was probably in the middle (of what I expected)," Barons’ coach Troy Sunderland said of getting five District qualifiers. "In a best-case scenario, you’re looking at maybe six or seven. There were a couple more kids that I thought had the chance to get in there."
Metzler, the number two seed at 138, punched his ticket by holding off Conestoga Valley’s Nate Musser 3-2 in the semi-finals. That led to his match-up against top-seeded Grossmann (31-8), a PIAA State silver-medalist at 113 one year ago.
The Central junior knew he had a weight advantage on Grossmann and he went to work to capitalize on that.
"(Grossmann) was giving up a lot of weight, so I knew it was going to be close," he said.
It remained scoreless after one, and then as the clock ticked under a minute in the second, Metzler got a double arm bar locked in and was moving Grossmann toward his back when the match was halted by the official.
"I felt like he was going to start counting (back points) soon so I felt pretty safe and just took it slow from there," Metzler said. "I guess it just got too far … Everyone said it looked pretty ugly, so I guess it was a good call."
"(Ben) had it cinched up pretty tight," Sunderland said, "and he turns a lot of guys with the bar or double bar. But Grossmann did a nice job of countering and not going over and gutting it out."
Grossmann cut Metzler loose to start the third and then tried to attack on his feet. In fact, he got a couple ankle picks in the final stanza, but Metzler was able to counter and create stalemates both times, enabling him to hold on for the 1-0 win.
"Again, it was just the weight advantage that I had that extra (edge), pretty much," Metzler said. "I just tried to keep as it as close as I could and pull it out at the end."
"Ben is pretty methodical in matches like that where it’s pretty evenly matched," Sunderland said. "He holds pretty good position and doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes and sometimes that can happen in a 1-0 match."
While Metzler’s 1-0 match was a low-scoring battle, LaSanta’s dual against Hempfield’s second-seeded Jordan Ortiz was just the opposite. Those two also met in the quarter-finals of the L-L Tournament, in a match that Ortiz won 12-7, and the two grapplers picked up where they left off.
This time, LaSanta took a 6-4 lead on a four-point reversal with 44 seconds left in the middle period, and Ortiz tied on a reversal with 16 seconds to go in the stanza.
Number two-seeded LaSanta went back on top with a four-point move early in the third. The Black Knights’ sophomore (27-12) came back to make it 10-8 and 11-10, but LaSanta held on for the 12-10 decision.
"(The L-L match) could have been a little bit closer if Rey would have won one more scramble," Sunderland said. "But in the latest matchup, Rey pretty much came out on top of the scrambles and was able to basically get the points he needed to win. But it was back and forth and a roller coaster ride, that’s for sure."
Unfortunately, LaSanta injured his knee in those scrambles and was unable to face Pickel for the L-L gold. Sunderland said that he practiced on a limited basis on Monday and expects him to be ready for Districts.
"(His knee) was so tender and sore that we didn’t want to push it until we got it looked at," Sunderland said.
In the 132-pound brackets, Fantom, the number three seed, made a strong push in the wrestlebacks after suffering a tough 2-1 loss to Penn Manor’s Deion Valentin (12-17) in the quarter-finals. Central thought Fantom had a takedown which would have given him the lead, but he didn’t get the call.
But after capturing two takedowns in a 5-1 win over Ephrata’s David Donnelly (10-14) in the consi semi-finals, Fantom took a 4-3 lead after two on Solanco’s Dalton Groff (9-11) and sealed a 7-3 victory with his third takedown in the final stanza for the bronze medal.
"I thought he wrestled really well," Sunderland said. "A couple mistakes here and there and I thought he had a takedown against (Valentin) where he lost 2-1. Sometimes you don’t get those calls, but he did a nice job composing himself and coming back and doing what he needed to do to pick up the wins."
Siegrist, the number four seed at 145, also picked up some key wins after suffering a 7-2 semi-final loss to Township’s top-seeded Adam Smith (35-4), the eventual champ. In the L-L Tourney, Smith defeated Siegrist 10-0.
But Siegrist bounced back in the consolations last Saturday to edge Hempfield’s Nick Griffith (12-15) 2-1 to advance to the bronze-medal match, where his two third-period back points were the difference in a 4-2 win over Penn Manor’s Jack Zimmerman (14-9).
"(Jared didn’t have a great league tournament, but he closed the gap a little bit on (Smith) in the semi-final and then just wrestled solid," Sunderland said. "It was a closer score (in the third-place bout), but he dominated the match."
King was also solid on his way to winning the bronze medal at 152. Seeded sixth in the weight class, he won his first two bouts before dropping a 9-4 semi-final loss to McCaskey’s Bomaly Castamby (18-10). But he advanced to the third-place match and took Lampeter-Strasburg’s Evan Addis (22-15) to OT tied 1-1. In the third extra session, he reversed Addis and eventually pinned him at the buzzer in a time of 7:00 for the bronze. Earlier, King beat Addis 6-3 in the quarter-finals.
"(Austin)’s in good shape, he’s hard to score on, and he’s got a big heart and he just stays after it and hustles and he’s finding himself in the right place at the right time," Sunderland said.
Central junior Tyler Rhoads (18-10) also advanced to the bronze medal match at 160, but fell just one win short of Districts with a 7-3 loss to Conestoga Valley’s JP Kramer (32-8).
Still, the Barons’ future looks bright with four underclassmen heading to Hersheypark for the District Championships this weekend.
"I talked to the kids earlier in the season and toward the end when we started the post-season," Sunderland said, "about how special our team could be next year with all the kids returning and if they continue working and getting better and stronger and getting the right weight classes and all those things, that with the guys we have returning, we could have a pretty strong lineup in terms of a dual-meet team. So I think they recognize that, but there’s a lot of time between now and next season. But that is definitely encouraging that we have a number of underclassmen coming back that have done well and contributed and won a lot of matches for us." More METZLER, page B-6