Levi Haines is cooking, and not just with gas. He’s cooking with rocket fuel.
The Biglerville junior served up a tasty three-course meal on Saturday at venerable Martz Hall in Pottsville. Haines offered an appetizer to those in attendance in the form of a second-period fall of Littlestown’s Ayden Dillon. His main course consisted of a hearty 10-2 major decision over four-time state qualifier Patrick Edmonson of Southern Columbia.
And since there is always room for dessert, the Canner whipped up a scrumptious thumping of Sullivan County’s Nathan Higley, a returning PIAA medalist who had been undefeated. The final forkful came in the form of an official slapping the mat as Haines flattened Higley in 3:44 to become a PIAA Class 2A Super Regional champion at 145 pounds.
The next delectable dish Haines concocts will come at the Giant Center in Hershey, site of Friday’s PIAA Class 2A Championships. Haines will be joined there by Bermudian Springs seniors Savauri Shelton (215) and Hogan Swenski (285), who placed fourth and second, respectively, to secure state medals as well.
The postseason has been a tour de force for Haines, who claimed his fourth title in as many tournaments. His domination of Edmonson, which included three takedowns and two sets of nearfall points in the first four minutes of their semifinal, was further evidence that Haines is equally happy to engage those who opt to come forward, or those who don’t.
“I like to put it in my favor, go out there and wrestle hard and put them in a position where they have to make up their mind that they’re going to come back at me, or we’re just going to run up the points on the board,” he said. “You make slight adjustments for guys that are wrestling a little different. I enjoy that part of the sport. I don’t think the way my opponents wrestle dictates how I wrestle. I wrestle like myself no matter what.”
Higley was poised to present the steepest challenge to date, but Haines cut him down early with an accurate shot for a takedown. After allowing an escape, Haines used a sharp shrug near the end of the opening period to go up 4-1.
An escape and a third takedown boosted Haines’ advantage to 7-1 before letting the Sullivan County senior free once again. Haines dug in for a fourth two-pointer, this one leading to a stuff in 3:44.
“Levi is just going out and being himself,” said Ken Haines, Biglerville’s head coach and Levi’s father. “He likes going hard and he likes competitive wrestling matches against the best guys out there, so this is like his playground. This is what he likes to do.”
Haines will head to the Giant Center with his third state medal already secured as the top four finishers in each weight class at super regionals locked in podium finishes. The idea of needing to string together three more wins in one day to reach the top of that podium isn’t something that concerns the junior.
“I’m not looking to have an off day,” he said. “I’m going in looking to wrestle to the best of my abilities no matter what. There is really no difference in how I approach it. It’s one day, you go in and scrap out three matches and at the end, how it ends up is how it ends up.”
Swenski (22-3) is hoping for just one more shot at the only wrestler who has defeated him this season after dropping his third straight finals bout to Bishop McDevitt’s Riley Robell (28-0). An escape and takedown on the edge of the mat in the middle period gave Robell a 3-0 advantage, and he tacked on two more points in the third after countering a solid shot by Swenski to claim the title.
“I know the score didn’t show it but that’s the best I’ve wrestled him so far,” said Swenski, who previously lost to Robell 3-1 and 3-0. “I had a decent double (leg shot), I just let my head down. I was in deep and if I kept my head up I could’ve had it. I think I’m too used to being able to compensate with my length and strength.”
Swenski, who pinned both of his opponents prior to Robell, hasn’t allowed the recent setbacks to alter his expectations.
“I’m not giving up on my goal, everyone is beatable,” he said.
Like Swenski, Shelton earned his first state medal on Saturday, but it came with much more consternation. Shelton (23-4) dropped a 5-1 decision to eventual champ Dylan Bennett of Montoursville in the quarterfinals to wipe out any margin for error. A 3-1 win in the consolations moved him into the blood round, where he edged Zach Poust of Benton, 6-4. As the final buzzer rang, Shelton rolled onto his back and took a moment before getting to his feet, knowing his goal for the weekend had been achieved.
“It means a lot because last year I was in the same spot and fell a match short before placing,” he said. “It made me really happy and fuels me to do better. (Last year) losing and falling short of one of my goals since I was a little kid was tough.”
Shelton hasn’t been able to find the pinning touch of late but his ability to ride quality opponents is emerging as a key weapon.
“That’s me working with coach Colton (Dull), who is very good on top,” said Shelton. “He shows me what he does and having to hold Hogan down (in practice) is hard so that helps me a lot. It’s all in the practice room.”
Berm’s Brennan Schisler (132) and Fairfield’s Jake Moyer (285) fell just short with respective fifth-place finishes, meaning both wrestlers will be first alternates should a top-four finisher from the East super regional withdraw from states.
Moyer (22-6) opened with a pin of Northeast runner-up Caleb Burkhart but experienced Robell’s explosiveness first-hand when the Crusader powered him to his back for a fall in their semifinal bout.
Needing a victory to ensure a top-four finish, Moyer again fell victim to a sudden shift when Mifflinburg’s Emmanuel Ulrich floored him in 3:48 of a tussle that had been 1-0.
“It’s really difficult with the kids we have in our bracket, they’re all really good,” said Moyer. “Robell is crazy athletic, Hogan is fast and wrestles like a lightweight and you also have Emmanuel, who is a big kid and a mixture of everything. You have to be on top of your game all the time.”
Unless he gets the call during the week, Moyer (89-32 career, 70 pins) wrestled for a final time on Saturday. He only had one teammate, Kyle Davis, during his senior season, an added challenge but not something that soured his experience.
“I wish we had some other kids to do it with me but we did pretty well for having only two kids,” he said. “Even though we only have a handful of people there, they are always there for me or Kyle. It’s really fun to have that environment.”
Schisler’s junior campaign concluded with a fifth-place finish at 132. The Eagle beat a pair of District 3 cohorts among his four bouts on Saturday morning, with losses by 15-0 and 16-1 sandwiched among them. Schisler (21-6) used a late takedown in the second period to edge rival Dominic Caldwell of Susquenita in the first round of consys, 3-1. Schisler and Caldwell met four times in a three-week span in the postseason.
After falling to the fifth-place bout, Schisler put together a four-takedown performance to double up Newport senior Danny Capozzoli, 10-5, improving his career record to 76-27 with a season remaining.
Littlestown senior Connor Brown came up short in his bid to repeat as a PIAA medalist. Brown (22-5) ran into a buzzaw in the quarters against Montgomery freshman Conner Harer, who stacked up a 17-2 tech fall in 3:26.
Dropping to the consys, Brown couldn’t find his scoring touch, losing by 1-0 decision to Logan Bartlett of Lewisburg, who entered the tournament as an alternate from the Northeast region but emerged with a fourth-place finish.
Brown closed his career with a record of 110-32, winning a pair of District 3 titles and an eighth-place PIAA medal at 113 in 2020.
Dillon (95-46 career) went 0-2 on Saturday, losing to Haines and Brandywine’s Noah Frack, who placed fourth. Like his teammate Brown, both of Dillon’s opponents on Saturday placed inside the top four.
Contact Josh Martin at [email protected] Follow on Twitter at @JoshMartin33
PIAA Class 2A East Super Regional
Saturday – Martz Hall, Pottsville
Top 4 finishers at each weight advance to PIAA Championships on 3/12 at Giant Center, Hershey
Team: 1. Notre Dame-Green Pond 108.5, 2. Southern Columbia 88.0, 3. Benton 68.0, 4. Montoursville 65.0, 5. Hamburg 51.0
106-McLendon (Susquenita) p. Weiss (Jersey Shore), :51; 113-Reinert (Brandywine) p. Wagner (Faith Christian), :10; 120-Johnson (Danville) d. Howe (Lancaster Catholic), 8-1; 126-Doi (Camp Hill) d. Maag (ND-Green Pond), 11-7; 132-Brennan Schisler (Bermudian Springs) d. Capozzoli (Newport), 10-5; 138-Yoder (So. Columbia) d. Bauman (ND-Green Pond), 6-5; 145-Christie (Bishop McDevitt) p. Crawford (Milton), 1:50; 152-Cory (Montoursville) d. Lapenna (ND-Green Pond), 3-0; 160-Gar. Garcia (So. Columbia) d. Crum (Boiling Springs), 4-1; 172-Mason (Hamburg) p. Lehman (No. Penn-Liberty), 2:45; 189-Feese (Line Mountain) d. Scheib (Tri Valley), 5-3; 215-Muzika (Faith Christian) tf. Poust (Benton), 4:30 (18-2); 285-Jake Moyer (Fairfield) d. Compton (Pen Argyl), 6-3
106-Wentzel (Montoursville) md. Harris (Conwell-Egan), 11-3; 113-Gardner (So. Williamsport) d. Schweitzer (ND-Green Pond), 4-1; 120-Davidson (Hamburg) d. Kolb (Benton), 7-1; 126-Gramly (Mifflinburg) p. Zeigler (West Perry), 1:36; 132-Wagner (Lewisburg) d. Wirnsberger (Meadowbrook Christian), 5-3; 138-Harer (Montgomery) d. Bartlett (Lewisburg), 8-5; 145-Edmonson (So. Columbia) p. Frack (Brandywine), 3:23; 152-D. Gimbor (Hamburg) d. Alexander (Pope John Paul II), 8-6 SV; 160-Bassett (Midd-West) d. Lear (Benton), 3-2; 172-Jones (Saucon Valley) d. Gush (Muncy), 9-4; 189-Enders (Halifax) d. Csencsits (Saucon Valley), 5-4; 215-Mahaffey (Saucon Valley) d. Savauri Shelton (Bermudian Springs), 3-2; 285-Ulrich (Mifflinburg) p. Burkhart (Hughesville), 4:58
106-Burke (Benton) d. Smith (ND-Green Pond), 3-2; 113-Pepe (Wyoming Area) d. Bradley (Athens), 9-6; 120-Ungar (ND-Green-Pond) md. Barvitskie (So. Columbia), 13-0; 126-Johnson (Muncy) d. Strickland (Benton), 8-6; 132-Chletsos (ND-Green Pond) d. Heckman (Midd-West), 3-0; 138-Alderfer (Faith Christian) d. Kreidler (Allentown C.C.), 3-1; 145-Levi Haines (Biglerville) p. Higley (Sullivan Co.), 3:44; 152-Deem (Montgomery) d. Duggan (Boiling Springs), 4-3; 160-Garcia (ND-Green Pond) d. B. Gimbor (Hamburg), 4-1; 172-Gav. Garcia (So. Columbia) d. Haubert (Palisades), 5-3; 189-Crebs (Montoursville) d. Barnes (So. Columbia), 3-0; 215-Bennett (Montoursville) d. Wickersham (Tamaqua), 6-0; 285-Robell (Bishop McDevitt) d. Hogan Swenski (Bermudian Springs), 5-0