The South Fayette wrestling team shattered a school record at the PIAA Class AA tournament this past weekend at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The Lions had three wrestlers earn place-winner status by finishing among the top eight in their weight classes.
"Prior to this year, we had only six place-winners in the history of the program, but never more than one in a season," South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said. "To have three medalists in one season is something to be proud of."
Seth Carr (39-5) placed second at 113, Michael Fetchet (43-5) finished fourth at 170 and Jared Walker (34-9) seventh at 160.
"We could have done better in a few weight classes, but overall we had a very good tournament," said Chaussard, who was obviously disappointed with the results of the title match at 113.
Carr dropped a 1-0 decision to Derry Area's George Phillippi (42-4) in the 113-pound title match. The two also met in the WPIAL title match and Phillippi won by the same score.
"He's really good on top," Carr said. "It would have been a whole different match if I could have escaped."
Fetchet and Walker were making their second appearance at Hershey. Fetchet became a place-winner for the second time. His only losses were to Pete Renda of Brandywine Heights, the champion, and Jefferson-Morgan's Dustin Conti, the bronze medalist.
"We finished eighth in the team standings," Chaussard said. "We've never finished this high before."
Medal a good antidote
South Side Beaver's Nathan Reckner had a bag of ice covering his black eye, but it didn't matter. He was wearing a PIAA medal.
"It's worth it. I don't even feel it," said Reckner, who finished fourth in the 120-pound weight class at the PIAA Class AA tournament.
"This was my third time to Hershey and the first time I won a match here. It feels so good."
Reckner actually won three bouts, but lost to runner-up Ryan Easter of Bedford, in the semifinals; and to bronze medalist Matt Welliver of Benton, in the consolation for third place.
"I was more calm, collected and relaxed this time around," said Reckner, when asked what the difference was this season. "[South Side Beaver Coach] Bear [McCoy] always told me that it would hit me and that I would know when I was a senior. He was right. I wasn't even nervous."
Reckner finished the season with a 36-5 record, and his career with a 147-27 mark.
"I'm going to sleep with my medal for a few days," Reckner said. "It matches what Bear did in his senior year, so we're tied for the best finish in school history."
Reckner also wants to celebrate by getting a tattoo.
"Bear and I are going to get tattoos," said Reckner, who pointed out that he had a close bond with McCoy. "I just want a tattoo of the medal."
McCoy isn't as sure about the tattoo.
"We'll see about that," McCoy said. "They always talk a good game until it comes time to get them, then they change their mind."
Freedom senior gets medal
Freedom senior Boe Bonzo made his second trip to Hershey and came home with a sixth-place medal at 152 pounds.
"It was a lifetime goal to stand on the podium at states," Bonzo said. "It feels great. Not where I wanted to be [as far as placement on the podium], but it still feels great."
A knee injury that will require surgery may have kept Bonzo from a higher finish.
"It held me back a little bit, but not that much," Bonzo said. "My conditioning wasn't as good as it could have been since I was off for so long, but the knee didn't bother me that much."
Two of Bonzo's three losses were to eventual runner-up Kyle Bova of Coudersport, in the quarterfinals, and to eventual bronze medalist Ryan Preisch of Milton, in the consolation semifinals.
"Boe is a humble kid," Freedom coach Jim Covert said. "He would never tell you just how bad his knee is. He needs surgery, but didn't want that to keep him from wrestling in Hershey.
"He did a great job when you consider what he was dealing with."
Bonzo finished the season with a 29-6 record. His career mark is 102-23.