HERSHEY — Starting at 220 pounds probably didn’t favor Southern Columbia during Friday’s PIAA Team Wrestling quarterfinals, but with the Tigers heavily favored against Brookville, it didn’t seem to affect the final score.
Southern allowed back-to-back pins from Brookville aces Colby Whitehill (24-0) and Owen Reinsel (23-2) at 285 and 106 respectively, but then outscored the Raiders 39-9 through the rest of the match and cruised to a 51-21 victory.
Headlining the win, which propelled the Tigers to a semifinal match against Chestnut Ridge the same day, was an upset victory by Southern sophomore Garrett Krebs (16-11) over Cayden Walter (18-7) on a last-second, third-period takedown at 120 pounds that was originally waved off by an official.
Krebs took an early lead in the match with a double-leg takedown 47 seconds in, but then surrendered three points before the end of the first period and found himself trailing heading into the second.
He fought off back points for the scoreless second period, then managed an escape just 13 seconds into the third period to tie the score at 3.
With under a minute remaining, Krebs said he was looking to go for the double-leg that he caught Walter off guard on in the first period, but the Brookville sophomore was prepared for it.
“I kept working for it but I couldn’t quite get to it,” he said. “I just couldn’t get two hands on his leg, so I was trying to just keep working my shots. When we went out of bounds with nine seconds left, I figured we were either going to overtime or I could try to finish it right there.”
He opted for the latter.
Krebs took advantage of a shot by Walter with about five seconds remaining and turned it into a takedown as the buzzer sounded.
“He went for a dive bomb shot and I snapped him down, went around him, and got the two,” Krebs said, adding that the win is one of his biggest individual accomplishments on a wrestling mat considering the stage.
The score was originally waved off by an official, which was met by a viscous roar from Southern coaches and fans, but after a quick meeting between referees, the points were awarded and Krebs got the 5-3 victory in regulation.
Brookville’s Cabe Park tied the match back up, 15-15, after defeating Ian Yoder, 10-6, in the following match, but that would be the last time the Raiders had a shot at upsetting the Tigers.
Southern’s Patrick Edmondson earned a convincing 12-0 major decision over Parker Fleming and Tigers senior Michael Miner got a pivotal pin at 138 pounds.
For Miner, the success in the team’s opening matches have been a long time coming.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” Miner said of his two pins. “After the first pin I knew I belonged here and it was just a matter of getting my head out of the gutter. My coaches helped a lot with my mentality.”
After battling a minor shoulder injury in the early part of the season, Southern head coach Jerry Marks said he is impressed with how the 138-pounder has recovered.
“He looks fresh,” Marks said. “We’re expecting a lot from him (in Hershey) and his confidence has come a long way this season.”
Miner said he feels much better than he did earlier in the season, and was relieved to find out the shoulder problem was only rotating and pinching tendons.
“I feel a lot better out there,” he said. “Last year I would be getting down on myself but this year we’re ready. I think we’ve always been motivated to win the state title down here, but this year we have the talent to do it.”