INDIANA, Pa. – For most of the season, Sheffield’s Ethan Finch has steamrolled the competition, he proved at the Class 2A West Super Regional that he could battle his way to victory as well.
Finch moved to 30-0 on the season after winning a loaded 189-pound bracket at the Class 2A West Super Region at IUP and did so in dramatic fashion. Seven of the eight wrestlers came into the tournament ranked in the Top-15 in the state, according to Rokfin.
Eisenhower’s Cael Black saw his terrific junior campaign come to an end with a fifth-place finish. All eight wrestlers came into the tournament in Rokfin’s Top-25 and only the top four advanced from the Super Region.
After securing a 9-0 major decision over Burgettstown’s Shane Kemper in the quarterfinals, Finch found himself in his first battle of the evening against Quaker Valley’s Patrick Cutchember in the semifinals.
The two wrestled to a 6-6 tie through three periods and had to settle the match in sudden victory. Finch picked up a takedown in the extra period to advance to the finals and secure his place at the PIAA State Tournament in Hershey next Friday.
Finch held a 2-1 lead against Freedom Area’s Trent Schultheis going into the third period of the final match. Finch began the period on bottom and notched an escape to go up 3-1. Schultheis was able to secure a takedown in the waning seconds to force the match to sudden victory. The two grapplers were tied up late in the extra session, but Finch was able to turn his body, secure the takedown and take home the Super Region title.
Black opened the tournament with an 8-4 decision over Knoch’s Eli Reese. He then ran into the eventual Super Region champion, and current No. 1 wrestler in the state, Dayton Pitzer (Mount Pleasant) in the semifinals. Pitzer picked up a first-period pin to send Black to the consolation semifinals.
Black needed to pick up a win against a familiar opponent to keep his season alive. Awaiting him in the consolation semis was Corry’s Hayden Linkerhof. The two have met in the finals of every postseason tournament (sectionals, districts and regionals) and now were set to square off in a win-or-go-home match.
As he has in the previous three meetings, Linkerhof came away with a tight decision (9-7) that sent Black to the fifth-place match. Black topped Carlynton’s Collin Milko, 8-4, to secure fifth place.