Hirtzel & Stewart win L-L crowns

By on January 31, 2018
Warwick senior Luke Hirtzel gets his arm raised in victory after beating Norlebco’s Stephen Herb 10-3 in the L-L’s 152-pound finals. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Luke Hirtzel wanted only one thing for his birthday last Saturday.

A Lancaster-Lebanon League championship.

The Warwick senior got exactly that when he bested Northern Lebanon’s top-seeded Stephen Herb 10-3 in the 152-pound finals.

And judging by Hirtzel’s smile on the medal stand, his 18th birthday was no doubt a sweet one.

“I didn’t even think about it being my birthday until the second that match ended,” said Hirtzel, who improved to 22-6 this season. “I was focused on today, focused on the finals and nothing else.”

Hirtzel was one of two L-L champs for Warwick, joining senior Ryan Stewart, who decked CV’s Tyler Oakley in 1:27 to repeat at heavyweight.

Stewart (23-1) dominated at 285, pinning all three of his opponents in a combined 1:52.

Many thought he would be in the mix for the Outstanding Wrestler Award, which went to Pequea Valley 145-pounder Gabe Miller.

Solanco’s Grayson Charles won the Floyd ‘Shorty’ Hitchcock Most Falls/Least Time Award at 138, recording four pins in 9:30. Stewart received a first-round bye, so he didn’t have a fourth bout.

“I kinda feel like anyone that’s played the Patriots in the Super Bowl right now,” Stewart quipped.

Truth be told, though, it was a super showing for the Warriors at the L-L’s, with seniors Steven Seepaul and Evan Clark (21-2) also reaching the finals at 195 and 220, respectively, and bringing home silver medals.

In all, Warwick claimed a fourth-place finish in the team standings with 175 points, as Mateo Chacon (126) and Logan Boring (182) took fourth, David Hnasko was fifth at 160, and Haydn Shreiner earned a seventh-place medal at 145.

“The kids wrestled well,” Warrior coach Ned Bushong said, “we had a nice tournament, and things are starting to come together.”

Things definitely came together for Hirtzel, who pinned Solanco’s Tucker Pierson (1:42) and Penn Manor’s Kole Marley (2:39), then rolled to a 13-4 major over McCaskey’s Joey Battle in the semis.

Herb was waiting in the finals and Hirtzel was ready with a solid game plan.

“Defense, big time,” Hirtzel said. “I’ve watched him wrestle, I know what he did and I understood that I had to stop his low shots.”

The Warrior senior nearly had a takedown in the opening 30 seconds, but Herb managed to get out of bounds. But with 1:07 left in the first period, Hirtzel countered a shot and took a 2-0 lead.

“One thing (Herb) was good with was recovering from (my counters) and trying to stop me from getting the two,” Hirtzel said, “so once I got behind, I had to trip him to get him down.”

He added another takedown in the middle stanza and led 4-2 going into the third period.

“Herb was doing a lot of fakes up high with hands,” Hirtzel remarked, “and Coach kept yelling to me, ‘Keep your hands low. Control his hands when you have the opportunity.’ He wanted to keep space from me, he didn’t want to get in tight and I kinda knew that.”

As the final seconds ticked away, Hirtzel secured his 10-3 win with a four-point takedown, clinching his first-ever L-L championship.

“I was glad to be (in the finals), but I had the goal in mind and that was winning it,” said Hirtzel, who took fourth at 152 last year. “Nothing else was going to do for me. I wanted to win it.”

Nothing was stopping Stewart from the HWT crown, either. He needed just 20 seconds to pin Oakley in a dual-meet back on Dec. 21, so the Warwick senior liked his chances.

“Pretty confident,” Stewart smiled.

Two takedowns in the opening 41 seconds didn’t hurt his cause. Finally, Stewart got his third fall in two days by flattening Oakley in 1:27.

“I was just trying to get him on his back any way I could,” Stewart recalled, “so I was making up moves at that point.”

Earlier, the No. 1 seed decked Garden Spot’s Jacob Warner in 14 seconds, then was even better with an 11-second fall against Cocalico’s Austin Shaver in the semi-finals.

“It was a goal of mine going into the season to win Leagues and now to win Sectionals,” Stewart said, “so hopefully I can capitalize on both those goals.”

While Stewart entered the L-Ls as a favorite to win gold, Seepaul — seeded 11th at 195 — was an underdog to reach the finals.

Still, he got to the championship round after pinning Lampeter-Strasburg’s Johnny Franklin (1:39) in the first round, then pulling out an 8-5 decision over Solanco’s Nick Yannutz in the quarters, and then decking Elizabethtown’s No. 2-seeded Blake Andrews (5:05) in the semi-finals.

“(Steven) was definitely an underdog,” Bushong said, “but when you come into a tournament, anything can happen. He wrestled well and that’s all we can ask for.”

Unfortunately, however, Manheim Central’s grabbed the driver’s seat on a first-period takedown with six seconds left in the stanza and went on to claim a 5-0 shutout for the gold.

The 220-pound finals featured a rematch from Warwick’s dual-meet against Cocalico, when the Eagles’ Ben Fromm dealt Clark his first loss of the season with a 6-5 decision.

This time, the scoring was much lower, as Fromm escaped with five seconds elapsed in the ultimate tiebreaker round to claim a 3-2 win.

“That was the type of match I wanted to wrestle against him,” Clark said. “When we wrestled in our dual meet, that was more his pace. He dominated that match pace-wise and I was on my back foot the whole time. Really, in my mind, it all just kinda came down to that coin flip. That’s not taking anything away from him at all. One hundred percent heck of a wrestler.”

Following a scoreless first, Fromm and Clark traded escapes in the second and third periods. Otherwise, the two grapplers battled in neutral, as Clark looked to work under-hooks or get something upper body against the Eagle senior.

“Going underneath him with his hips, it’s a dangerous move,” Clark commented, “and I was just trying to avoid those sweep singles he hit me with during the dual-meet.”

In the second and third OT periods, it remained tied while again swapping escapes, the match proceeded to the ultimate tiebreaker knotted 2-all.

Clark advanced to the finals with falls in his first two bouts, followed by a 9-3 win over Garden Spot’s Dustin Swanson in the semi-finals.

As he climbed down from the medal stand, Clark shared a light moment with Fromm.

“Everyone in the 220 bracket, we all had a good time with one another and (Fromm and I) politely said we didn’t want to see other ever again,” Clark laughed. “It was a good time, though.”

At 126, Chacon (14-11) suffered a 7-1 loss to Cocalico’s Kayde Althouse in the quarterfinals, but rebounded to win his next three, including a fall in 4:13 over MC’s Conner Zeamer. In the bronze-medal match, he suffered a 5-0 loss to Penn Manor’s Nicholas Fafel.

Boring (19-6), meanwhile, advanced to the 182-pound semi-finals, where he dropped a tough 5-3 loss to Manheim Central’s Garret Fittery (18-6).

The Warwick senior came back to pin CV’s Isiah Gantt in 1:31 in the consolation semi-finals, but suffered a 4-3 setback to Manheim Township’s Carter Hasson in the third-fourth place bout.

Elsewhere, Hnasko (12-10) fell by tech fall in 4:47 to eventual champ AJ Wilson, of Solanco, in the 160-pound quarterfinals, then advanced to the fifth-place match, where he pinned McCaskey’s Gilbert Colon Valent in 1:30.

In the 145-pound brackets, Shreiner (6-2) was pinned in 1:21 by eventual champ Gabe Miller, of Pequea Valley, but advanced into the medal rounds and ended his day with a 13-4 decision over Penn Manor’s Ian Young in the seventh-place match.

“Credit to Warwick’s team — we placed eight guys,” Clark said. “With over half of our guys medaling here at the League Tournament, that’s huge for us.”

*****

Last Wednesday, Jan. 24, the Warriors (2-5 L-L, ended their Section One dual meet season with a 47-25 loss to Cocalico. With their victory, the Eagles improved to 7-0 and clinched the Section title.

The visiting Cocalico grapplers took the first six bouts and grabbed a commanding 35-0 lead before Haydn Shreiner won by fall in 2:27 to get the Warriors on the board.

Luke Hirtzel followed with a 9-0 major at 152, Andrew Morgan won by fall in 5:16 in the 170-pound bout, Logan Boring earned a 5-1 decision over Wyatt Gehman at 182, and Ryan Stewart completed Warwick’s scoring with a forfeit at 285.

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