Central Dauphin's Andrew Wert Rides Lone Escape to Win over Fenstermacher

HERSHEY: There isn’t much difference between Central Dauphin’s Andrew Wert and Northampton’s K.J. Fenstermacher on the mat.

Two bouts during the season, two different outcomes. Each one was low scoring and was decided by a single point.

So when Wert and Fenstermacher locked up in the PIAA Class 3A Wrestling Championship 132 quarterfinal round Friday afternoon, it wasn’t going to be a scorefest. And the smallest mistake was going to decide the match.

Wert did just enough. A second period escape is all it took for the Rams junior to win the rubber match between these two standouts and punch his ticket to Saturday’s Class 3A semifinal round at Hershey’s Giant Center.

“We wrestle a lot, and he’s a great opponent,” Wert said. “In the end, it just comes down to heart. Whoever has the most heart is going to win that match.

“Obviously, I showed a little bit more heart and got the W. He’s a great wrestler and all, but it’s all about heart.”

These wrestlers know each other well, and that was on display throughout the six-minute match. Neither competitor could make a dent in the other’s defense.

Fenstermacher deferred in the second period after a scoreless first. Wert chose bottom and had a couple of opportunities to escape only to be ripped back to the mat. The third attempt was the clincher, as Wert spun out of his opponents grasp along the edge with 1:17 showing.

Trailing 1-0, Fenstermacher surprised some by taking neutral. Not Wert, however, who figured the KonKrete Kids star might stay off bottom and elect to go for the win instead of the escape.

“At Central Dauphin, we are known for our top game,” Wert said. “We are pretty tough on top and get turns, so it doesn’t surprise me [that he took neutral].

“I think he felt he was better on his feet, but I just held a good position and stuck it out for the win in the end.”

There were anxious moments.

Fenstermacher was just short of a takedown with one minute left. Wert was also hit with a stall call that was concerning to his coaches.

Rams head coach Jeff Sweigard barked instructions, urging Wert to stay in the middle and circle if he gets pushed. But the longer the match went, the more Wert took half shots, which was good enough to hold off Fenstermacher to the whistle.

“I just had to hold my position,” Wert said. “I couldn’t back up, otherwise, I was going to get nailed. I had a warning, so I kept moving forward a little bit and it worked for me.

“Obviously, I wanted to actually get in on a shot and finish, but some of it was to show the referee, ‘Hey, I’m working.’ If I don’t do anything, I’m going to get hit for stalling. As long as I’m staying in there working and trying to improve my shots, I won’t get hit for stalling.”

It was a special win for Wert, who will face Council Rock South state champ Zack Trampe in the semifinal round. Not only was it a big victory over a really accomplished opponent, it put the Rams ace on the podium.

“It’s definitely [a good feeling], especially considering last year I didn’t place,” Wert said. “It was kind of rough.

“It helped reset my mindset for this year, and I really wanted to come back and make a statement. I wanted to prove it was a fluke. I came out here, and now I’m going to be on the podium. That’s all that matters.”

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