By Lynn Saternow
Herald/Allied Sports Editor
MERCER COUNTY AREA —
HERSHEY — Lakeview heavyweight Sam Breese certainly knows how to provide a fantastic finish.
The Sailors junior scored a takedown with 2 seconds left in the match to edge Nicholas Budd of Port Allegany, 3-1, and win the state 285-pound title in the PIAA State AA Championships Saturday at Hershey Giant Center.
“It feels amazing,” said Breese. “I’ve worked so hard to get here. I’m not thinking about next year yet. I’m just going to be happy with this for a while. Then I’ll try to come back and repeat.”
Lakeview junior Breese, a son of Sam Breese and Candy Burnett, put his name in the Sailors record books by becoming only the second state champ in school history. Rod Wright won three times from 1985-87. And Breese has shot at two.
His finals match with Budd was a thriller. He escaped in the second period and Budd did the same in the third. Then with the clock ticking down, Budd took a leg shot and Breese countered and spun behind for a takedown and the victory.
“He controlled the pace and controlled the position all match,” said a happy Sailors coach Tom Tingley. “We worked hard on offense and he wrestled a good smart match. Sam had the advantage if the match went to ultimate tiebreaker. The other kid knew what he had to do so you give him credit for that.”
“He’s better than most heavyweights on his feet,” said Breese of Budd. “He took about three good shots that I was able to counter.” Of course the big counter came in the final seconds of the match!
The win lifted Breese’s season record to 37-4 and his career mark to 90-26. He placed first at sections and regions, while taking third at districts.
Breese had a nice rooting section from his school on hand. Mike Dye, a coach who works out with Breese at times, was one of the first to give him a hug after the finals victory.
And football coach Dan York was on hand to watch one of his top linemen. Of course he took a little ribbing in the stands when he was told that Breese was considering just wrestling next year and not going out for football.
Considering the big hug Breese gave York, that’s very doubtful.
And of course there was another big rooter looking on — Boiling Springs coach Rod Wright. “Sam told me he wants to have his picture in the school beside mine,” said Rod. “I’m really happy for him.”
Of course Breese didn’t meet a Boiling Springs heavyweight in the finals, so there was no real conflict for Wright.
There have been only four 3-time state titles in Mercer County history — Wright; George Lewis of Farrell (1944-46); and Reynolds wrestlers Casey Taylor and Justin Nestor (1998, 2000-01).
Breese’s win closed out an outstanding week for Mercer County wrestlers at state as 6 of the 8 entries earned medals.
Reynolds’ Austin Matthews, a runner-up the last two years, finally made it to the top of the medal stand with a 4-2 victory over Kyle Bova of Coudersport in the finals at 152.
Sharon’s Michael Bonner (138) and Jarray Norris (126) finished 3rd and 5th respectively, while Reynolds’ Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamar Henry (182) also both won to finish 7th.