HERSHEY, Pa. -- Up the ramp from the main bowl inside Giant Center, Burrell senior Dakota DesLauriers and Kittanning junior Jason Nolf stood side-by-side with their gold medals draped around their necks.
It was the perfect shot for two perfect wrestlers.
Nolf and DesLauriers each finished the season unbeaten Saturday after winning PIAA Class AA championships.
"This is the only way I could have imagined it -- going out with a state gold," DesLauriers said. "I'm thrilled."
DesLauriers (36-0) has come close to winning the title in each of the past two years, taking third at 171 pounds in 2011 and second at 182 pounds a year ago. To get his first championship, he had to beat Muncy's Troy Hembury, 3-1, in the 182-pound title match.
After the two traded escapes, the match appeared to be headed into overtime until Hembury took an ill-advised shot with 15 seconds remaining in the third period. DesLauriers was able to snap him down and spin around for two points and the title.
"I baited him to go the one way, and then snapped him back the other way," DesLauriers said. "It was a little bit of a misdirection. It was late in third and I didn't want to risk going into overtime. ... I got the takedown when it needed to be gotten."
While DesLauriers was all smiles after the match, Nolf (45-0) was more business-like after defeating Keystone Oaks' Nick Zanetta, 4-2, in the 132-pound championship match.
"It was better than last year," Nolf said.
A year ago, Nolf suffered the only loss of his high school career when he fell to Trinity's Ryan Diehl in the PIAA 113-pound semifinals.
He acknowledged Saturday that the loss in 2012 made this season's championship better than the title he won at 103 pounds as a freshman.
Nolf had to overcome an early deficit after Zanetta scored the opening takedown. But Nolf rebounded with an escape and then a takedown with time winding down in the first period to take a 3-2 lead.
"I didn't know if they were going to call it two or not," Nolf said of his first-period takedown. "It was close."
Nolf added an escape in the second period, and then rode Zanetta for the entire third period to win the title.
It was the fourth consecutive weekend Nolf beat Zanetta, with the four matches decided by a total of eight points.
"I don't regret anything," Zanetta said. "I worked my hardest to try and get the win and I just fell short."
It is the second consecutive PIAA runner-up finish for Zanetta, who lost to four-time PIAA champion Jimmy Gulibon of Derry a year ago at 126 pounds.
Gulibon is a redshirt freshman on Penn State's wrestling team, but a new Trojans wrestler picked up where he left off as freshman George Phillippi won the 113-pound championship, 1-0, against South Fayette's Seth Carr.
"It would be awesome to do what Jimmy did, but ... I'm not saying it's not possible, but I just want to get to states every year and then work my way through one match at a time," Phillippi said.
The only score came in the second period, when Phillippi escaped in 15 seconds.
Phillippi beat Carr by the same score two weeks ago in the WPIAL championship.
Chartiers-Houston senior Garrett Vulcano became the third WPIAL Class AA wrestler to earn a silver medal when he fell, 7-0, to undefeated and defending PIAA champion Ryan Solomon of Milton in the 195-pound title match.
First Published March 10, 2013 5:00 AM