Elementary Wrestling Sign-Ups - October 3rd & 4th

Ward, O'Neill, Karas, and Crane's earn PWCA All-Academic Honors

The Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association (PWCA) selects 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention All-Academic Teams based on GPA and wrestling winning percentage at the end of each season. These season, five Exeter Wrestlers were selected as members of those teams. Matt Ward and Alex O'Neill with 4.00 GPA's were selcted to the 1st Team. Dennis Karas (3.83 GPA) was selected to the 2nd team. Mike and Ryan Crane were both selected to the 3rd team. Each wrestler needed a .60 winning percentage on the season to be eligible and then they are placed on those teams based solely on their GPA. Click here to see a full list of the PWCA All-Academic Teams.

Karas Ends Career With State Podium Finish

HERSHEY, PA – The Holy Grail of Pennsylvania wrestling is the PIAA AAA Championship. Historically, the AAA tournament is the toughest high school state tournament in the country. If you need evidence of that, just look at the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Pennsylvania boasts 53 national qualifiers, with Ohio a distant second at 30, Illinois at 27. With that kind of pedigree, the goal of a championship is rarely accomplished, while finishing with a medal is reserved for the uber-elite.

Dennis Karas
Karas on the podium with his 6th place medal.

Karas entered the tournament battle tested, with only 3 losses. The losses came to the #2 ranked 220 lb. wrestler in the country in Malvern’s Michael Beard. The other two losses were to perennial nemesis Cole Forrester of Shippensburg, ranked #2 in the State. It was business as usual for Karas in the first round. The Exeter senior eclipsed the 100 pin mark, and 150 win mark this season. The first bout would last all of :57 seconds, with Karas recording a fall by way of a seldom seen Karas Half Nelson!

Round two was known to be a formidable test. Karas squared off with Ian Edenfeld of Laurel Highlands – last year’s State Runner-Up. A questionable takedown call proved to be the difference, as Karas entered the third period trailing 2-1. Midway through the period, most of the Giant Center rose to their feet as Karas was just inches from turning Edenfeld in his signature arm bar. Unfortunately, that was as close as he’d get to a near fall. Still trailing 2-1 with :30 remaining, the decision was made to surrender an escape in hopes of scoring a takedown to try and push overtime. Karas’ last second desperation shot was countered, resulting in a takedown for Edenfeld and a 5-1 loss for Karas. Disappointing, of course; however, encouraging at the same time, showing that he belonged with the State elite.

Dennis Karas
Dennis working on top in his Consi-Semi.

Denny would enter the consolation bracket with a long road to a 3rd place finish ahead of him. His first bout matched him up with John McCarthy of Delaware Valley HS. McCarthy entered the tournament with a 32-6 record, before dropping a 12-4 decision to Ship’s Cole Forrester. Karas wasted little time setting the tone with a takedown and back points, as he steamrolled McCarthy en route to a 1:43 fall in the second period, guaranteeing himself his first state medal. Next round would pit him against Frosh-Phenom Nate Schon of Selinsgrove. Schon came into the tournament with a perfect 27-0 record, including the only blemish on eventual champion Hunter Catka’s record. Karas’ solid position and clear strength advantage set the tone. Once again, the victory would be of the bonus-point variety, as Karas would pile on the points racking up a 16-8 major decision, ensuring him a top 6 finish in the state.

Familiar foe Cole Forrester would be Karas’ next opponent. Forrester was a perfect 4-0 over Karas in the past two seasons, with his most recent victory coming in the District III South Central Region finals. Karas kept the bout close, and it looked like this was his time when he sunk a deep arm bar mid-3rd period; however, Forrester would scream in pain, resulting in a stoppage and injury time. Down 4-3 late in the match, the strategy of surrendering an escape in hopes of a late takedown was again employed. Again, Karas woud surrender the takedown late and drop a 7-3 decision and move on to the 5th place Medal bout.

Battling for 5th would be another familiar face, as #1 ranked Ian Edenfeld had found himself out of the running for a second straight finals appearance, and battling for a 5th place medal with Karas. This match Karas’ strategy had changed, and the move seemed to be paying off. After a scoreless first period, Karas escaped in the second to carry a 1-0 lead to the final stanza. Unfortunately, as the clock hit single digits, Karas found his hips low, and so did Edenfeld. Edenfeld would capitalize with a stepover and reverse Karas with 7 seconds remaining to escape with a 2-1 victory. Karas 6th place medal marks the 5th consecutive year the Eagles have had a PIAA AAA medalist. His career accomplishments will be well documented in the Exeter mat room with multiple sectional and county titles, over 100 career victories, and now a State Medal. #workday #whosnext

• Click Here for the Final Brackets

Karas Advances to State Tournament, Ward Alternate

HERSHEY, PA – Six remaining wrestlers took to the mats at the PIAA AAA District III South Central Regional Tournament with hopes of advancing to the PIAA AAA State Tournament March 8-10 at Hershey’s Giant Center. While all of the men battled hard, only Denny Karas (SR,220) advanced to the tournament, with Matt Ward (SR, 160) qualifying as an alternate for the tournament.

Karas steamrolled his way into the finals, making his second District III Regional final in 3 years, and guaranteeing himself a spot in the State Tournament. In the final, Karas ran into familiar foe Cole Forrester of Shippensburg. Karas has wrestled Forrester 4 times over the past two seasons, and has been unable to crack the code. Forrester scored an early first period takedown, and Karas quickly escaped. What followed was not for the faint of heart. Karas and Forrester would bang heads in the middle of the first where Denny would suffer a gash above his right eye. Like a scene out of a B-Rated horror movie, blood poured onto the mat as the medical staff rushed out to assess the damage. A lot of gauze and tape was able to periodically contain the bleeding, but the rest of the bout would be marred by blood stoppages, re-bandaging, and clean up. Despite the wound above his eye, and the taping that made seeing out of his right eye nearly impossible, Karas battled throughout, coming up short in a 9-4 loss.

Matt Ward took a different route. Ward got off to a hot start posting a 12-3 major decision in the first round. Anthony Hinson of Spring Grove would return the favor, defeating Ward by a score of 15-3 in the quarter finals. Hinson would go on to finish 2nd in the region. Ward quickly gathered himself and rebounded with a 6-3 decision and a 4-3 TB2 decision to set him up in the consolation semifinals, one win from the State Tournament. Unfortunately, Ward would run into Super-Soph Ethan Baney of South Western. Baney won by fall in the first period against Ward, and moved on to finish 3rd. Ward would wrestle one more time, knocking off 30-4 Caden Morrison of West Perry. The 5th place regional finish sets Ward up as the alternate, should one of the top 4 placers not be able to compete this coming weekend.

Michael Crane (SR, 195) and Gage Moran (SR, 152) had great showings as well, each placing 6th in the regional tournament. Alex O’Neill (SR, 145) went 1-2 in the regional tournament to end his senior campaign that saw him make significant improvements throughout the season. Jacob Keller (SO, 113) advanced to his first regional competition, and got a taste for what it’s all about. He’ll be better prepared for the tournament next season after an 0-2 outing this year. Karas will compete Thursday evening at the Giant Center with visions of State Gold in his site. #workday

Eagles Advance 6 to Regional, Team Finishes 2nd in Section

Michael Crane
Mike Crane on the podium.

SHILLINGTON, PA – The Eagles 14 wrestlers took to the mats at Governor Mifflin Intermediate school on the first step in their individual post-season journey. At stake was not only a Sectional Title, but also the possibility of individual seasons coming to an end. Only the top 4 place winners in each weight class advance to the District III South Central Regional Tournament. Taking home Sectional Titles for the Eagles were Dennis Karas (SR, 220) and Michael Crane (SR, 195).

Karas made quick work of everyone in his way, once again, registering 3 first period falls. Karas, currently ranked #3 in the State will advance to the District III Regional with a title on his mind. Karas placed 2nd in the Regional Tournament in 2016, and 5th in 2017. Michael Crane’s road to victory was much different. Crane entered the tournament as the #2 seed and quickly moved onto the finals with falls in :43 and 3:18. In the finals, Crane squared off with Cocalico’s Ben Fromm, a 2017 PIAA Medalist who finished 8th in the state. Fromm’s #10 state ranking did not intimidate the unranked Eagle. Battling closely for the first two minutes, Crane was awarded a penalty point for Fromm’s illegal slam as time expired in the first period. Crane rebounded from the slam and ran away to a 6-2 victory, Sectional Title and was voted the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Crane will be at the Regional Tournament for the first time.

Michael Crane
Crane working on top.

Matt Ward (SR, 160) was also in the finals, coming up just short against Reading’s Quinn Foley. Foley evened the score on the season between these two familiar opponents – as they’ve split their 4 meetings this season 2-2. As you would expect with two grapplers that have seen each other so frequently, points were at a premium and Foley came out on top by a score of 3-2. Ward advances to his first Regional Tournament. Jacob Keller (SO, 113) earned his first berth in the Regional Tournament in dramatic fashion. Keller was battling with Reading’s Corey Jenkins when he was caught on his back and called for a questionable pin. Keller regrouped and tore through the consolation bracket with three quick falls in :23, :36, and :52.

Alex O’Neill (SR, 145) advances in his first year as a starter with a 3rd place finish. O’Neill dropped an 11-8 semifinal matchup to Twin Valley’s Finn Tinsley sending him to the consolation bracket. O’Neill would record a fall in his first consolation bout before knocking off Governor Mifflin’s Jacob Blanski with a 13-5 major decision. O’Neill opened the dual meet season losing by fall to Blanski and has worked non-stop all season avenging that loss twice – once by fall in the county tournament and most recently here by bonus points in the sectional tournament.

Gage Moran (SR, 152) makes his first appearance at the Regional Tournament following his 3rd place finish in the section. Moran dropped a 2-0 decision to eventual champion Stefahn Mayo of Muhlenberg in the semifinals. Moran rebounded with a fall in 1:31 to set up a rubber match with Oley Valley’s Dylan Lambert. Moran knocked off Lambert in the county finals, and lost to him the following week in the dual. This time, it would be all Moran as he blanked Lambert by a score of 6-0.

Finishing in 5th place for Exeter were Dirk Amole (SO, 170), John Harrell (SR, 182) and Ryan Crane (SR, 285). 5th place finishers will serve as alternates for the regional tournament should any of the place finishers suffer an injury/illness and withdraw from the tournament during the week. Brandon Borton (JR,126) and Chris Matthews (JR, 132) finished in 6th place. Matthews, a regional qualifier a year ago, dropped 3 decisions in the tournament by a total of 5 points.

The District III South Central Regional will get underway at The Giant Center in Hershey, PA on Thursday evening. Wrestlers will be competing for an opportunity to advance to the PIAA AAA State Tournament in Hershey the first weekend in March. Once again, the top 4 place finishers will advance to the State Tournament. #Workday #WhosNext

Familiar Foe, Unfamiliar Ending – On To Individual Success

CAMP HILL, PA – The Exeter Wrestling 2017-18 season came to an earlier end than the team had hoped for. Coincidentally, it was revenge served to the Eagles at the hands of perennial post-season foe Cedar Cliff that brought the season to an abrupt stop. For the first time since 2012-2013, the grapplers won’t be part of the PIAA AAA Team Tournament. Each of the past two seasons, the Eagles found a way to defeat the Colts. In 2016, it was the consolation finals of the District III tournament, and who will ever forget the Eagles incredible run to the 2017 District III Championship Title where they defeated Cedar Cliff behind a run of 7 consecutive victories through the heart of the Colts’ lineup? This year, it was Cedar Cliff’s turn as they put their own run together.

Starting at 195 pounds, Michael Crane (SR, 195) got the Eagles on the board with a 7-point decision. Denny Karas (SR, 220) and Ryan Crane (SR, 285) would follow with a pin and decision, respectively, putting Exeter out to a 12-0 advantage. Then the Colts took control. Cedar Cliff would rattle off 7 victories of their own – 5 by fall – to establish an all-but insurmountable lead. Jevin Guldin (FR, 106) came up 1 point short at 106 pounds in a match that saw an extremely questionable call go the way of Cedar Cliff. Behind that momentum, Cedar Cliff would win by fall in the 5 of the next 6 bouts, holding a 36-12 advantage with just 4 bouts remaining. Alex O’Neill (SR, 145) and Gage Moran (SR, 152) would bump up a weight class each and give the Eagles another life, as both won by fall to pull the Eagles within 12 with just two bouts remaining.

Matt Ward (SR, 160) would drop a hard fought overtime decision which would mathematically end the dual for the Eagles, and Cedar Cliff would put an exclamation on their redemption victory with a fall in the final weight class to put an end to any State Duals hope, by a score of 45-24. Exeter gets some much needed time off as the Eagles next action will be at the PIAA District III Section IV Sectional Tournament, February 17 at Governor Mifflin Intermediate School. The Eagles will look to advance a majority of their lineup to the District III Regional Tournament February 24 at The Giant Center in Hershey. The Junior High team will compete in their final event – the Wilson Junior High Tournament – at Wilson High School Friday and Saturday, February 9 and 10. #Workday #WhosNext

Post-Season Begins With 3rd County Title

BCIAA Team Champions
The team with their 3rd straight BCIAA team championship.

WYOMISSING, PA – Exeter took to the mats as the number one seed Friday evening in the BCIAA Team Tournament, looking for their 3rd consecutive Berks County Team Title. They didn’t have to look long. Exeter met Reading in the semifinals. In the first meeting, the Eagles posted a 40-28 victory over the Red Knights. However, much time has passed, and the team has evidently been hard at work. Exeter would run away from the Red Knights early on their way to a 46-15 victory. Exeter would win 10 of 14 bouts, and drop two bouts by a combined 3 points.

Dennis Karas
The crowd celebrating after Karas' 100th pin.

The finals would see Hamburg Area across the mat from the Eagles. Hamburg came into the tournament with a #17 AA State Ranking. The Eagles were clearly unimpressed as they romped over the Hawks by a lopsided 47-16 score, taking 11 of 14 bouts. Going 2-0 for the Eagles were Jevin Guldin (FR, 106), Jake Keller (SO, 113), Alex O’Neill (SR, 145), Gage Moran (SR, 152), Michael Crane (SR, 195), Denny Karas (SR, 220), and Ryan Crane (SR, 285).

Karas’ two victories were again by fall. In the dual against Hamburg, Exeter’s faithful following erupted in cheers as Karas downed Logan Herber in the first period to record his 100th career pin. Yes, you read correctly, 100 career PINS! #workday