FARGO, N.D. – Pennsylvania will have eight All-Americans – and just one finalist in Joey Fischer – at the Junior Freestyle National Tournament, which wraps up at the Fargodome on Tuesday.
“We’re a little disappointed,” said Team PA coach Brad Dillon, who is an assistant at Lehigh. “You want to keep as many guys in the championship and in the finals as you can. Still a whole ‘nother day of wrestling. Right now, it’s just time to get them ready for tomorrow.”
It will be a big day for South Park’s Fischer, who made it to the finals in his first Fargo appearance.
“It’s a great feeling,” Fischer said. “Big weight cut, lots of training. I’ve been training probably about a solid six months. To have it all come together, and end up making it to the finals is a great feeling.”
For Fischer, making the weight was half the battle, as he weighed in Sunday but didn’t have a match in a small bracket.
“A little different tournament setting, where he had to make weight twice without wrestling a single match,” Dillon said. “Even the plus-2 was not easy. Any time you get to the finals at Fargo, it’s a good day.”
It certainly was for Fischer. He’s hoping Tuesday, which brings the finals at 2 p.m. Eastern, will be as well.
“I’m stoked,” he said of facing Ronan Schuelke of Illinois in the final “It’s an opportunity. You hear Fargo, and any wrestler knows that’s the biggest thing. If you win that, you’re the top dog. To be able to be right there, at that level is a great feeling.”
Much of the day was devoid of great feelings for Pennsylvania’s Junior squad, which had just four semifinalists, compared to Illinois, which pushed eight wrestlers through to the finals and has already locked up the championship.
Cathedral Prep’s Carter Starocci, who won freestyle and Greco-Roman titles as a Cadet last year, fell 6-2 to Oklahoma’s Dustin Plott in a very difficult 170-pound bracket.
“That kid’s really good,” Dillon said. “There’s no doubt about that. A rough one. We had a couple opportunities there that kind of slipped away from him. Nice to see him rebound again in the next one.”
Starocci will wrestle for third on Tuesday afternoon. Team PA’s Beau Bartlett and Connor McGonagle are scheduled to meet for third place at 132 pounds, but McGonagle suffered an injury with two seconds remaining in this consolation semifinal victory that put’s his return in doubt.
Jackson Henson (132) and Ed Scott (138) will each wrestle for fifth while Dan Mancini and Jacob Stefanowicz (160) face seventh-place matches.
Henson provided one of the highlights of the night for Team PA in a loss. He pushed Ohio’s Jordan Decatur, a World Team member, to the brink in their 132-pound semifinal. Henson rallied from an early deficit to take a 12-10 lead after turning Decatur multiple times. Decatur battled back to take a 17-14 lead, which was increased to 17-16 after review. In the final seconds, Henson looked to lock up a bearhug, but ran out of time in a match that caught the attention of most fans at the Fargodome.
“Lots of points on the board,” Dillon said. “It was a lot of fun. Took a really good kid to the wire.”