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PIAA Wrestling: Towanda's Wheeler Claims NTL's Lone Medal

Towanda's Cody Wheeler kept the Northern Tier League's streak of PIAA medalists alive with his second-place finish at Hershey's Giant Center last weekend.

Wheeler's medal was the only one by an NTL grappler this season.

The last time the NTL had as few as one medal was 1991 when Canton's Jeremy Route claimed the 152-pound title. The last time the NTL went without a PIAA medal was 1990.

Wrestling at 125 pounds, Wheeler was dominant in his march to Saturday's championship final against Reynolds' Mason Beckman, picking up wins over Saucon Valley's Paul Sloand, Central Cambria's Ben Rager and Claysburg-Kimmel's Ty Dively.

Wheeler defeated Sloand, 17-2, in 3:03 of their preliminary-round bout. In the quarterfinals, Wheeler defeated Rager, 5-2. He advanced to the final with a 10-1 win over Dively in the semifinals.

Beckman, who entered the title bout with a 48-0 record, remained perfect following his 9-1 win over Wheeler.

Wheeler's loss was doubly frustrating for Towanda fans who have yet to see anyone wearing the Black and Orange mount the top of the podium in Hershey.

The Black Knights have come close to breaking that streak the past two years with Wheeler this season and Travis Chesla in 2010 both reaching the championship round.

Other than Wheeler, the NTL didn't fare well.

After the first day of the tournament on Thursday saw three wrestlers eliminated, the remainder of the nine-man NTL contingent other than Wheeler was eliminated from medal contention Friday morning.

Besides Wyalusing Valley's Mike Cobb at 171 pounds, the other NTL qualifiers to fall short of medals were Williamson's Logan Everett; Troy's Braden Calkins; Wellsboro's Brenton Acorn; Northeast Bradford's Jake Balchikonis and Towanda's Caleb Willey, Garrett VanDeMark and Aaron Schultz.

Sullivan County freshman Shawn Nitcznski, who wrestles in the Heartland Conference, was also eliminated at 103 pounds Friday.

Friday's Session

At 103, both Everett and Nitcznski lost their quarterfinal bouts.

Boiling Springs' Joseph Byers defeated Everett, 5-2. Bethlehem Catholic's Darian Cruz downed Nitcznski, 8-2.

Everett was ousted from the tournament with a 3-0 loss to Saucon Valley's Bryan Israel in the second-round consolations.

Nitcznski also fell short of a medal with a 9-2 loss to Bedford's Ryan Easter in the second-round consis.

Willey, wrestling at 135 pounds, was pinned by Pen Argyl's Michael Racciato in 3:15 of their quarterfinal bout.

Willey's tournament ended with a 7-3 loss to Central Catholic's Damien Hopper in the second-round consolations.

VanDeMark, wrestling in the 171-pound consolation bracket, lost to Saucon Valley's Ray O'Donnell, 3-2, to fall out of medal contention.

Schultz, wrestling at 285 pounds, was pinned by Fort LeBoeuf's Evan Daley in 2:33 of their consolation bout.

Thursday's Session

At 103 pounds, Nitcznski and Everett each advanced to the quarterfinals. Nitcznski pinned Sharon's Cody Buchanan at 3:34. Everett advanced with a 15-0 technical fall over Bermudian Springs' Ted Marines in 5:49.

Troy's Braden Calkins lost his 119-pound preliminary bout, 4-2, to Claysburg-Kimmel's James Dodson. In their first-round consolation, Keystone Oaks' Nick Zanetta eliminated Calkins, 5-0.

Willey defeated Fort LeBoeuf's Riley Smith, 6-2, in the 135-pound preliminaries.

At 140 pounds, Wellsboro's Brenton Acorn lost his first bout to Fort LeBoeuf's Kody Pace, 6-2. Mahanoy Area's Nathan Fegley ousted Acorn from the tournament with an 8-4 win in their first-round consolation bout.

Northeast Bradford's Jake Balchikonis dropped into the consolation bracket after his 5-3 loss to Pequea Valley's Raymond Ball in the 160-pound preliminary bout. Schuylkill Valley's Noah Horst pinned Balchikonis in 4:34 of their first-round consolation bout.

VanDeMark fell to the consolation bracket after his 6-3 preliminary-round loss to Fort Cherry's Sam Guidi. VanDeMark led 3-0 in the second period before giving up six unanswered points.

He bounced back with a 3:44 pin of Jefferson-Morgan's Dustin Conti in their first-round consolation bout later Thursday.

Schultz also dropped to the consolation bracket after a 3-2 loss to Fort Cherry's Corey Garry in their opening round bout.

He stayed alive in the tournament with a 3:38 pin over Columbia's Marcus Fischer in the consolation round.

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