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Three Raider wrestlers move to regional action

Posted 2/27/19

Three Middletown wrestlers advanced to the PIAA Southeast Regional Championship by finishing in the top six over the weekend at the District 3 AA Championship at Hersheypark Arena.

Senior Ryan …

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Three Raider wrestlers move to regional action


Three Middletown wrestlers advanced to the PIAA Southeast Regional Championship by finishing in the top six over the weekend at the District 3 AA Championship at Hersheypark Arena.

Senior Ryan Berstler, junior Luke Fegley and junior Joey Spear will be battling for one of the top six spots at the regionals on Friday and Saturday at Wilson High School in Reading. Finish in the top six and they will advance to the PIAA State Wrestling Championship at the Giant Center in Hershey on March 7-9.

Overall, the Blue Raiders had seven wrestlers competing in the districts.

Berstler has had a stellar career for Middletown, so it was no surprise to any Middletown wrestling fans that he found a way to navigate a gauntlet of top-ranked wrestlers at 126 pounds and finish fourth.

Coach Dan Riggs was among those who knew what Berstler could do.

“Ryan had a great tournament and it was fun watching him. Many people thought he didn’t have a chance of placing in a loaded 126-pound weight class, but he used that as motivation and proved the doubters wrong,” Riggs said. “He showed he can compete with anyone when he puts his mind to it. Hopefully, he can keep the momentum going these next two weeks.”

Berstler started the tournament with a solid 5-1 decision over Ayden Dillon of Littlestown, but fell into the consolation bracket with a 9-3 loss to three-time PIAA state place-winner Bronson Garber of Upper Dauphin.

A determined Berstler started scrapping his way back through the consolation bracket with a 6-5 decision over Daemon Davis of Kennard-Dale and then a hard-fought 4-3 decision over former state qualifier Dalton Gimbor of Hamburg.

The most impressive win of the tournament came in the consolation semifinal round when Berstler was brilliant in a 2-1 victory over Patrick DeMark, a 2018 PIAA state runner-up from Trinity.

Berstler was stalled by Josh Tuckey of Biglerville, however, and had to settle for fourth. He carries a 35-10 record into the regionals.

Fegley came into the districts as the No. 2 seed, and finished second.

In the quarterfinals, Fegley defeated Ethan Slaybaugh of Biglerville, 4-2. In the semifinals, Fegley controlled Jace Beegle of Pequea Valley for a 3-2 win and a chance to compete for the 113-pound title. Fegley faced off against local rival Adam Jacob of East Pennsboro, the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the district and the region. Jacob scored the first period takedown and kept a strong tight waist on Fegley to ride out a 3-1 decision.

Fegley takes a 35-3 season record into the regionals.

Spear, at 138 pounds, finished strong Saturday to lock up a fifth-place finish and a ticket to the regionals.

Spear started with a 12-0 major decision over Jacob Caskie of Brandywine Heights. In the semifinal round, Spear suffered a last second takedown to surrender a 5-4 decision to Jack Coulston of Boiling Springs. In the consolation semifinals, Spear dropped an equally heartbreaking 11-9 decision to Octorara’s Michael Trainor. Spear responded with a quality win over Hayden Funck of Annville-Cleona. Spear has a 32-6 record heading into the regionals.

Senior Nathan Brady (120 pounds) closed out a tremendous high school wrestling career in which he earned 98 career wins for the Blue Raiders. Brady had been battling through a shoulder injury for the last few weeks of the season and, despite a courageous effort, could not find a win in Hershey this weekend. He fell to Ethan Paul of Upper Dauphin and then Blake Showers of Biglerville.

“Nate had an awesome wrestling career for Middletown,” Riggs said. “I know he is upset on how his high school wrestling career ended, but he has nothing to be disappointed with. Without his leadership and commitment to the team, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish our goals the past few years. It was awesome watching him grow over the past four years, both as a wrestler and individual. He definitely will be missed next year.”

Junior Quincy Reinnagel (220 pounds) beat Jeremy Gebhart of Littlestown in the opening round, but was bumped from the tournament before the medal round. Reinnagel fell to Joey Coblentz of Pequea Valley and then Bailey Beamesderfer of ELCO.

Junior Chris Joseph (152 pounds) and sophomore Matt Mitchell (195 pounds) also competed in the districts but came up short of advancing. Joseph fell to Darien Wiest of Upper Dauphin and then Aaron Shriner of Fairfield, while Mitchell lost to Hunter Smith of James Buchanan and Landon Donnelly of West Perry.