Pequea Valley’s Gabe Miller Storms Back for Huge Pin and Southeast Region Title

WEST LAWN, Pa.: Pequea Valley’s Gabe Miller appeared to be in trouble Saturday evening at Wilson West Lawn High School.

That wasn’t the case. It only looked that way on the scoring pylon after the opening two minutes of his match with Notre Dame-Green Pond’s Andrew Cerniglia.

Sure, Miller trailed 4-0 after the first period and gave up a reversal in the first eight seconds of the second. But, you could sense Miller was going to make a run with plenty of time left.

And the Braves senior didn’t disappoint. He broke through with a second-period reversal and put together a huge third period, capping the run with a cradle and a fall to claim the Southeast Region-AA 145-pound championship.

“I knew I had to keep pushing,” Miller said. “I knew he was gassing out. He couldn’t keep up with my pace, and I had to keep pushing and pushing.

“I’ve worked too hard to give up this season. I knew if I went hard for six minutes, at some point, he was going to break, and I was going to capitalize.”

This was the featured match of the night, as Miller entered the bout ranked No. 2 in the state, according to PA Power Wrestling. Cerniglia was no slouch checking in at No. 3 in the same set of rankings.

Cerniglia was the aggressor early, shooting and scoring on a takedown 17 seconds into the first period. He got Miller on his back for two near-fall points with 24 seconds left in the stanza and was up 4-0 after the first.

Things continued in Cerniglia’s favor in the second. He reversed and was able to ride Miller for over a minute before giving up a reversal to the Braves ace.

Trailing 6-2, Miller went to work in neutral to start the third. He had more bounce than Cerniglia and scored a quick takedown. Miller let his opponent up and had another takedown with 1:30 left on the clock.

“I knew I had to stay calm through it,” Miller said. “I knew, at some point, he was going to break if I kept pushing and pushing him.

“I just had to keep my pace up. Win, lose, or draw, I was going to give glory to God, have fun … it’s my last go around. This postseason, I’m going to go out and have fun and push the pace.”

That was Cerniglia’s undoing.

Miller let Cerniglia up again and went to work. The two wrestlers got in a scramble, and Miller was able to trap the arm and even the match at 8 along the edge with 37 seconds left.

There was no satisfaction for Miller. Overtime wasn’t in his mind. He worked on top, and when Cerniglia made the mistake of sitting through, Miller locked up the cradle and sent the crowd into a frenzy with a fall in 5:39.

“Once he got in deep, I kind of baited him and trapped the arm,” Miller said. “I’ve done that roll through a million times in practice, and I rolled through.

“I went for my go-behind, but he sat through, and that’s when I locked that cradle up. He sat right into it. Then rolling through, it’s not my favorite finish, but it was go big, go-home time, and I stepped up, and it worked out for me.”

Miller sat in a chair with an ice bag on his neck after the match. He not only beat a top-flight opponent, he made a point.

Increasing his record to a spotless 40-0 meant little. The rankings, that wasn’t a concern, either. Miller left it all on the mat, had fun, and plans to do both during next week’s PIAA Championship at Hershey’s Giant Center.

“This is huge,” Miller said. “Coming into this weekend, a lot of people were saying I didn’t have a lot of competition or a lot of tests and didn’t know if I was going to hold up.

I’ve been around the block a few times in my wrestling career, and I just went out there, wrestled, and had some fun. Glory to God, it worked out, and I went out and did my best wrestling.

“Coming in here, I knew I was going to have a tough bracket. Rankings don’t matter. I was ranked ahead of him in the state, and he was ranked nationally, and I wasn’t. Throwing out rankings and just settling my business on the mat … That’s what it’s all about.”

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