By Corey J. Corbin
Allied News Sports Correspondent
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
GROVE CITY -- Grove City, Lakeview and Mercer have each had their fair share of success stories at the Fred Bell Tournament.
At the 30th annual Bell tourney this past weekend at Grove City High School, there was just one ultimately successful Eagle, Sailor or Mustang.
Lakeview heavyweight Sam Breese grabbed a 5-1 lead midway through the second period against Sharpsville’s Kaleb Robertson before decking the Blue Devil at the 3:07 mark.
“Sam was real impressive,” Lakeview coach Tom Tingley said. “He wrestled a real good tournament. He pinned everybody he wrestled. He certainly is getting prepared for the postseason and hopefully, he'll do well there.”
Breese’s Lakeview teamate Evan Clayton at 106 was the only other local to advance to the finals, but quickly found himself trailing 9-2 entering the second period before falling 14-2 to Gen. McLane’s Joe Wheeling.
“Evan had a good tournament,” Tingley said. “The kid he wrestled in the finals from Gen. McLane is a real tough kid. I think (Wheeler) is a AAA placewinner, but I'm not sure. Evan wrestled him tough.”
This year marked the first year in recent memory to not feature a Grove City wrestler after Caleb Kolb and Wes Phipps dominated their weight classes during their decorated high school careers.
Trey Maher was the top Eagle place-winner in third place at 145 pounds, while Luke Walter (132) and Chet Simoni (152) finished fifth. Kenny Bable finished sixth at 120 pounds.
Mercer, also, failed to get a wrestler into the finals, but were represented by fourth-place finisher Rodney Brant (138) and fifth-place finishers Preston Hoover (106), Alex Shaffer (145) and John Hennegan (285).
General McLane placed seven wrestlers into the finals, but managed just three Fred Bell championships.
With that impressive showing, McLane easily outdistanced runner-up Redbank Valley 258.5-222.5, while Jamestown (116.5), Lakeview (97), Mercer (92), Grove City (68), Sharpsville (64.5) and Hickory (62) finished in the top-20 of the 27-team field.
The only other Mercer County wrestler to earn a championship was Jamestown's Jonas Reaugh, who edged Northwestern's Matt Wheeler 2-1 at 120 pounds.
“Jonas was what we expected,” Muskie coach Steve Pfaff said. “We were really looking forward to watching him and Wheeler wrestle in the finals and he pulled that out Jonas wrestled him twice last year and beat him both times, but Wheeler's improved/ That's one step in the direction we want to be headed.”
Most Oustanding Wrestler Shane Gentry of South Side never made it out of the second period, pinning all five opponents, including Muskie Nick Floch in 57 seconds.
“Nick was injured earlier in the year,” Pfaff said. “Gentry is definitely tough He definitely didn't fare very well against (Gentry), but overall, (Floch) wrestled very tough.”
At 182 pounds, Hickory's Joe Hines trailed Lancer Chris Laird 5-4 entering the third period before ultimately falling 10-5.
“Joey had an awesome tournament,” said Hickory assistant coach Nick Clepper, who helped guide the Hornets in the place of head coach Carl Wombacher, who missed the tourney for personal reasons. “He beat two guys that are ranked higher than him in the region. He came into the finals match with nothing to lose. He wrestled a hard-fought match. He was impressive. It was nice to see Joe put toegther a good tournament heading into sections.”
Jamestown's Keamus Schulen was pinned by Cochranton's Cam Cyphert in just 47 seconds at 220 pounds.
“Cyphert is tough,” Pfaff said. “Keamus was about a .500 wrestler last year. This year, I think he's 20-3, so he's come a long way. He's wrestling really smart as a senior. What he's produced for me this year is just fantastic.”
Other champions were Redbank's Willis Gruver (113) and Ty Haines (145), Warren's D.J. Fehlman (126), Coudersport's Cody (138) and Kyle (152) Bova, General McLane's Ossie Bowers (160), Cochranton's Austin Andrews (170) and Franklin's Dan Geer (195).
Several other Mercer County athletes earned places in third and fifth place consolation rounds. Place winners included:
106 - Hickory’s Justin Walter (fourth) 138 - Commodore Perry’s Tony Leonard (fifth); 170 - Sharpsville’s Ben Bucher (third).