Tye Varndell tops tough 132-pound bracket to earn Trojan Wars Helmet

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.: Tye Varndell remembers his last trip to Chambersburg High School. It’s burned into his memory.

The Cambridge Springs senior was seeded and leading his quarterfinal match in last year’s Trojan Wars before he got stuck. That bitter disappointment sent him to the consolation bracket and served as motivation over the last 12 months.

So, when Varndell laced up for this year’s event, there was no way he was going to fall short of his goal: He was taking home that sweet-looking Trojan helmet trophy.

Varndell didn’t disappoint at 132. He beat the No. 2 seed Richie Markulics, of Notre Dame-Green Pond, in the semifinals and followed it up with an entertaining 6-5 decision over Bishop McDevitt top seed Chase Shields in the championship bout.

“It’s definitely a big confidence boost,” said Varndell, who entered the tournament as the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the state at Class 2A-138 by PA Power Wrestling. “Anytime you compete against kids of this caliber and come out on top, it gives you confidence.

“I came in last year and got pinned in the quarters, and I ended up beating that kid at states. So, it’s confidence, but it’s all just practice for March.”

The 132-pound weight class at this year’s Trojan Wars was considered by many to be the best of the tournament.

That held true the way the bracket played out. It was echoed again in a must-see final between Varndell and Shields, a state runner-up a year ago and No. 8-ranked wrestler in the state at the weight.

Shields got in on Varndell’s legs multiple times in the opening period but couldn’t finish. The two continued to hand-fight and the period ended scoreless.

Varndell drew first blood with an escape in the second, but Shields kept coming. The Crusaders senior latched in a single and grabbed the opposite heel to take a 2-1 lead. Varndell escaped, and the match was even.

It was Varndell’s turn to take the lead with 20 seconds left in the second. He scored along the edge to go up 4-2, and Shields escaped to end the period at a 4-3 count.

Shields evened the match to start the third on an escape. But, Varndell got the winning takedown with 50 seconds left in the match and held Shields at bay the rest of the way for the decision.

“It’s the Trojan Wars, so I came to go to war, I came to battle,” Varndell said. “I gave up a takedown, but I got two of my own.

“I was just focused on what I was doing and scoring the next point, trying to keep him off his offense and me on mine. It worked out this time.”

Said Shields, “If I finish my shots, I get takedowns, and the score is different. He just got two, it is what it is. I lost and need to get better. I need to finish shots, have better tempo and pace, that’s about it.”

Shields indicated that he will likely be down at 126 for the postseason. As for Varndell, he is slated to stay at 132 and has plenty of confidence moving forward.

“It’s definitely something I thought about, but this tournament is also getting bigger,” Varndell said. “So, it’s one of those high-powered tournaments, and you want to get at the top of the list.

“It was a very tough bracket to come out on top in, so it gets my name out there and sets things up the rest of the year.”

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