As many of our readers know, we have had a District XI champion every year since our program started 68 years ago. Referred to simply as “The Streak,” it has become one of the many important traditions of our program. Some years we enter Districts more confident in continuing that streak than others. Last year Elijiah Brown won an epic overtime match against Josh Ortman to push our streak to 67 years. While we do not regularly discuss “The Streak,” and sometimes even downplay it, ensuring that it continues is very important to our program. That streak belongs not only to the champions with name plates on our walls, it belongs to everyone who has ever stepped in our wrestling room and/or been affiliated with our program. This year we were eager to see one of our boys continue that tradition.
District weekend saw us crown two District XI champions in Evan Fidelibus and Jimmy Saylor to extend “The Streak” to 68. Evan won in a loaded 132 LB. weight class, while Jimmy continued his dominant season by never being in danger throughout the whole tournament. We were very pleased with their performances. Jacob Montes looked very good in taking 2nd place. Casin Corallo made the semifinals before falling back to 4th place and qualify for regionals. In addition, Anthony Roche concluded his career with a 6th place finish.
Regional weekend saw Jimmy and Evan win their 100th career matches on Friday night. Both boys looked dominant throughout the tournament. Jimmy absolutely dominated the very tough Chase Gallick (who is Lehigh bound) in the finals. We watched quite a bit of film on Chase and know that he can score points in bunches. Chase actually beat Jimmy in a tournament a few years back, but Jimmy showed just how far he has come in picking him apart in the finals. Evan did not have an opportunity to wrestle in the finals and received a forfeit to give him his Regional championship. Despite the anti-climactic end to his tournament, that does not take away from the fact that he still has a championship to his credit.
Casin was very close to qualifying after putting together a solid tournament. He dropped a very close match to the District II champion in the consolation semifinals, which kept him from qualifying for states. Casin would then drop down and take 6th place. Although Casin was certainly disappointed, and has areas he can improve, he had an outstanding year for us and cemented himself as one of our top returnees for next season. If Casin can improve his strength and can get 50-100 off-season matches, he will have a chance to be a hammer in our line-up next year.
Jacob on the other hand, suffered an awful looking ankle injury in the consolation semifinal match that he was winning. He rolled his ankle very badly early in the second period and had to default out of the match. We had initially thought that his ankle may be broken, but all indications to this point say that is not the case. Even so, a high ankle sprain is still a long recovery process and incredibly painful. Jacob is a great kid and will come back from this stronger. The adversity Jacob has suffered through will only make the success he will have next year that much sweeter.
The state tournament was next and we had our two qualifiers. We actually had off from school due to weather on Wednesday. Mr. Powell and I drove out to check into our hotel, while Mr. Snyder drove the boys to the arena. Hershey only takes about 90 minutes to get to and it is usually an easy ride from Easton. Once we were checked in at the Chocolatetown Motel, we went to the arena. Each year we have the boys roll around for five minutes on each mat to get a feel for the entire arena. They move to the next mat when they hear Mr. Snyder’s very distinct whistle.
Jimmy and Evan both won their bouts on Thursday. I think both of them probably had a lot of anxiety to get that first match out of the way after last year’s 0-6 Thursday that ended our medal dreams very quickly. Both boys dropped their quarterfinal match on Friday before recovering to win in the blood round. Jimmy won a dramatic overtime decision against Becahi’s Cole Karam to earn his first medal. It was a huge relief leaving the arena with the assurance that both Evan and Jimmy would come home with a medal.
Jimmy dropped his first match on Saturday against NC State bound Junior Hayden Hidley. This would drop him down to the 7th place match that he would ultimately win by a 3-2 score. He was losing the match before battling back and putting the kid on his back to take the lead. Jimmy’s weight was one of the most stacked weight classes in the tournament. Willie Saylor from FloWrestling tweeted that there were four Fargo finalists in his weight. That was not even including Joe Kemmerer who would win the weight class. For Jimmy to medal at that weight was most impressive. Jimmy has come very far in just a year and he will have a chance to make a big jump before next year.
Evan wrestled Lucas Schaf from Emmaus in his first match. He would then win his next match before getting a shot at the kid who beat him in the quarterfinals. We knew going in that Evan would have to win the match on his feet and avoid getting tilted. To Evan’s credit, he was able to secure that takedown late in the second period after a nice scramble on his feet. His 3-1 decision would secure his 3rd place medal. Finishing 3rd behind AC Headlee and Luke Pletcher was a very impressive accomplishment.
All in all, we were very proud of all our boys this past season. We took our lumps and had many ups and downs. We met that adversity together as we will always do. Families stick together through the toughest of times. While we did not have as many accolades as a team as we have had in the past, it was a pleasure working with this group of boys. They improved immensely, accomplished a lot, and we feel that we are in a great position to make an even greater jump next year. Gold Medal has already started and we had 50 kids in the room the Monday after states. The program is in a great place moving forward and we are confident we can give these kids the greatest experience possible with all the resources we have to offer.
Thank you for all of your support. Thank you for reading. “One you’re a Rover, you’re a Rover for life.”