Stewart captures District bronze

By on February 28, 2018

Advances to PIAA Championship Tournament

Warwick’s Ryan Stewart (right) locks up with Governor Mifflin’s Jordan Espinosa in the District Three Triple-A 285-pound third-place match last Saturday at the Giant Center. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Warwick’s Ryan Stewart (right) locks up with Governor Mifflin’s Jordan Espinosa in the District Three Triple-A 285-pound third-place match last Saturday at the Giant Center. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Tom Devenney has what Warwick senior Ryan Stewart wants.

A State wrestling medal.

Five years ago, Devenney — a 2013 WHS grad — ended his high school career by placing fifth at the PIAA Championships.

And now the former heavyweight grappler is working with the Warriors’ current 285-pounder to get him into that elite club.

“I’m wrestling with Tommy six days a week,” Stewart said, “and he’s getting me more prepared than I think I’ve ever been in my high school career.”

That work paid off when Stewart clinched a bronze medal at last week’s District Three Triple-A Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center and qualified for one final shot at State hardware.

“I think (Tommy)’s the typical body type I’m going to see at States, so it’s really helping me prepare,” said Stewart, a two-time PIAA qualifier who defeated Governor Mifflin’s Jordan Espinosa 11-4 for his 102nd career win in the third-place match last Saturday.

The top four place-finishers advanced, and Warwick seniors Logan Boring and Evan Clark were on the cusp of joining Stewart at States.

In the end, both fell just one win shy, as Boring and Clark placed fifth at 182 and 220.

Sophomore Haydn Shreiner (17-8), senior Luke Hirtzel (33-9), and sophomore David Hnasko (22-14) also competed at 145, 152 and 160, respectively, and helped the Warriors take 14th at Districts with 41 team points.

Stewart (36-4) did a lot of that damage with two falls in his four wins, including one in 1:08 against Northern York’s Blake Sanchez (16-18) in the first round.

That set up the first of Stewart’s two meetings vs. Espinosa (28-6) and — as it turned out — the first of his back-to-back 11-4 decisions over the Mustangs’ junior grappler.

From there, the road got much more challenging in the semi-finals. Central York unbeaten junior Michael Wolfgram (36-0), the reigning District champ who is ranked No. 4 in the State, took a 4-1 lead after one against Stewart with a pair of first-period takedowns.

But the Warrior senior did something which Wolfgram’s first two opponents — Conestoga Valley’s Tyler Oakley and Cedar Cliff’s Anthony Shires — didn’t achieve, which was survive the first period without being pinned.

Ultimately, however, Wolfgram did get the fall in 2:55 on his way to winning a second District gold.

“He’s good, I’ll just say that,” Stewart said. “He knows what you’re going to do before you even do it, basically. It’s amazing.”

With a State berth on the line in the consolation semi-finals, Stewart answered the bell, decking Waynesboro’s David Henke (24-14) in 1:20 to advance to the third-place match.

There, in a rematch against Espinosa, Stewart got five takedowns and rolled to another 11-4 win.

“I feel like I’m doing really well,” he said. “The whole week in practice, I’d been working on shots, and the whole time I was just looking to get (Espinosa) on his feet because I knew I could take him down from there. I thought I was good on top and bottom, so I was wrestling a full match.”

In the big picture, Stewart was happy to place third at Districts, but not satisfied.

“Good, not great,” he said of winning the bronze medal. “I don’t want to get too complacent and not be on my A-game for States. I still want that little bit of motivation.”

Clark (34-4) was on his A-game while pinning his first two opponents, Reading’s Xavier Rivera (23-16) in 5:20, followed by Gettysburg’s Tyler Gallagher (28-11) in 3:23.

Exeter Township’s Dennis Karas (40-2) was next and the Eagle senior proved worthy of his No. 3 State ranking, pinning Clark in 1:56.

“When I locked up, man, I knew I was in trouble,” Clark recalled. “To put it frankly, he was stronger, faster, and just more physical than I was in almost every aspect.”

States, though, was still within reach. But standing between Clark and a PIAA berth was Milton Hershey senior Dylan Byrd (25-4) in the 220-pound consolation semi-finals.

After a scoreless first, Clark took bottom to start the second and escaped. A short time later, he got behind Byrd, but then the Spartan senior quickly turned the tables and took Clark to his back.

“I knew how dangerous (Byrd) was with his hips and headlock and I told myself, ‘Just stay away from it,’” Clark recalled. “I felt like I was in good position and it just turned into a scramble and his hips are just so good for being the weight he is.”

Clark battled to keep his shoulders off the mat, but eventually, Byrd finished the fall in 2:13.

“The majority of these guys here, except a few dominant guys who beat up on me like Karas or (Shippensburg’s Cole) Forrester, if you wrestle them 10 times, it will go back and forth, I think, 50 percent of the time,” Clark said. “It just wasn’t my night (Friday) night.”

In the fifth-place match Saturday, the Warrior senior scored a single-leg takedown in the second period to go up 3-0, then held on for a 3-2 victory over Central Dauphin’s Carter Ulrich.

“I think all in all, it was a decent season for me,” Clark said, “especially considering I got to this point in the season without getting injured like I did my sophomore and junior years. Just placing here is huge. Obviously, I would’ve liked to have continued moving on, but sometimes, the chips don’t fall your way. Things happen and that’s just the way it is.”

It was a decent season for Boring (30-10) as well. He got himself to the doorstep of going to States, but needing to beat Lower Dauphin’s Brendan Shaffer (33-4) in Friday’s consolation semi-finals to advance, Boring suffered a 7-1 loss.

Still, he described that as the best match he wrestled at Districts.

“(Shaffer) beat me at Sections and I’ve never lost to the same opponent twice in high school, but I came off a win, he came off a loss (to Big Spring’s Blake Barrick 1-0 in the semi-finas), but he lost to a really good kid,” Boring said. “So he knew he had to keep his head in it and that’s what he did. Shaffer and I are both pretty fast and really technical with our shots, and it’s always fun wrestling somone kinda like you.”

In the fifth-place match, Boring found himself matched up against Manheim Central’s Garret Fittery (28-11) for the third time in five weeks. After Fittery prevailed 5-3 at L-Ls, Boring evened the score with a 3-1 OT win at Sectionals.

This time, the Warrior senior took a slim 1-0 lead into third, then picked up two back points.

“(Fittery) seemed to like the roll a lot when he was on bottom, and the first two times, he almost got me,” Boring recalled. “I locked the leg and caught him on his back. I was hoping for more than two back points because he was there for awhile, but it’s OK. Two is better than nothing.”

Later, still leading 3-1, Boring clinched a 5-1 win on a takedown with 38 seconds left.

“It’s cool,” Boring said, “to end out a season and my last high school match against someone who is so close with you.”

In all, Boring finished Districts with four wins in his six bouts. Following a 3-0 shutout of Dover’s Matthew Lehman in the first-round, he suffered a 13-7 loss in the quarterfinals to Cedar Cliff’s Donovan Ball (37-6), the eventual silver-medalist.

But he won his next two bouts to get himself into position to bring home a medal.

“It’s awesome,” Boring said of taking fifth place. “Besides States, it’s the same place. Huge stage. It’s a lot better than what I did last year — I didn’t even make it here. I wanted to go to States, but placing is always really fun.

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