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PIAA team wrestling: Faith Christian’s Arment Waltenbaugh happy to see the light

Reynolds' Louie Gill, left, beat Faith Christian's Gauge Botero 5-3 with a last-second takedown in Thursday's battle of PIAA champions. (Tom Housenick/첥Ƶ)
Reynolds’ Louie Gill, left, beat Faith Christian’s Gauge Botero 5-3 with a last-second takedown in Thursday’s battle of PIAA champions. (Tom Housenick/첥Ƶ)
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HERSHEY — Wrestlers of all levels know where the dark corners are in every arena across the state. Arment Waltenbaugh spent half this season in the darkest of spots.

The Faith Christian sophomore wasn’t losing matches. He was fighting a losing battle with his body.

“It felt like I was running into a brick wall,” Waltenbaugh said.

The 2023 state medalist at 127 pounds was trying to make the weight cut this year to 135 pounds. He never got there. He never got close.

His only competition until Thursday’s PIAA Class 2A team tournament first round was at 152 pounds as a second competitor for coach Ben Clymer’s Lions at the Coal Cracker tournament.

Waltenbaugh finished third three weeks ago by winning six of the seven Coal Cracker matches. He then again faced the harsh reality that he was not making 135.

“I got to 139 once,” he said. “But my body shut down. I couldn’t sweat.

“I wasn’t hydrated. It wasn’t healthy. At that point, it was like, ‘OK, we have to talk about it.'”

Plan B came to fruition Thursday. Waltenbaugh weighed in at 140.7 pounds, then stepped in for Mason Wagner and produced a 7-4 decision over returning state eighth-place finisher Chase Bell in Faith Christian’s 54-9 victory over District 10 champion Reynolds.

Defending state champion Faith Christian faces District 11 champion Notre Dame-Green Pond in Friday’s noon quarterfinal. The Lions won last year’s quarterfinal showdown on their way to PIAA gold.

Notre Dame-GP advanced with a 41-16 win Thursday over District 6 runner-up Bald Eagle Area. Tanner Berkenstock’s sudden-victory decision at 127, Gavyn Kelton’s comeback win over a two-time state fifth-place finisher at 133 and Keegan Ramsay’s rally from his back to get a pin at 172 highlighted the match for coach Matt Veres’ club.

“Gavyn has a good mindset,” Veres said. “He’s a tough kid. He’s got a lot of talent. If he starts believing in himself, … Get a win like this and things start clicking for you.”

Kelton was down 3-0 before hitting a five-point move and nearly decked Lucas Fye in the last 20 seconds of the second period. He then picked up a reversal and a pair of backs for a 9-3 victory.

Ramsay was on his back for awhile in the first period against Cameron Dubbs. But the Crusaders junior survived, then picked up a takedown and fall in the first 45 seconds of the second period.

Waltenbaugh felt for a time that he would not get on the mat this season. But Clymer said his mental strength would not keep him down.

“Hard to watch an attempt at a weight cut that wasn’t feasible,” Clymer said. “It’s been a hard half of a year for him, but I’m grateful that a window of opportunity has opened for him late.

“He’s so talented, a staple to our program. He is one of the most poised, even-keeled kids we have in the room. You get the same mean Arment who wants to throw on the mat. That part hasn’t changed.”

Faith Christian has had its share of lineup shake-ups because of injuries and other situations. Kole Davidheiser suffered an injury while wrestling Notre Dame-GP’s Ayden Smith at the Beast of the East tournament in December. He has not wrestled since, but did weigh in Thursday.

The Lions still have a hole at 127, but thanks to Waltenbaugh, don’t have one elsewhere.

“[The attempted weight cut] was definitely effecting me trying to stay focused in school,” he said. “I felt down in the dumps all the time.

“When I made 141 today, I was so relieved. When I got out there, I felt stronger than I did at the beginning of the year. It just felt great to be out there.”

Notes

Reynolds’ Louie Gill, who sat out last season after transferring from Hickory to Reynolds, won the battle of state champions at 121 against Faith Christian’s Gauge Botero. Gill, a 2022 state champion and 2021 runner-up, worked through a scramble to secure a takedown just ahead of the buzzer for a 5-3 victory. It was the first loss this season for Botero, who missed the first month following knee surgery. … District 11 officials Chris Grammes and Tony Phillips worked the 2A session.

PIAA Team Wrestling Championships

Thursday at Hershey’s Giant Center

CLASS 2A FIRST ROUND

Faith Christian 54, Reynolds 9

285: Mark Effendian (FCA) pinned Casey Resek, 0:52

107: Joey Bachmann (FCA) maj. dec. Angelo Lomonte, 9-1

114: Clayton Waltenbaugh (FCA) dec. Hudson Wolbert, 7-4

121: Louie Gill (R) dec. Gauge Botero, 5-3

127: Logan Stewart (R) by forfeit

133: Dominic Reynolds (FCA) tech. fall Brendon Anderson, 17-2, 2:43

139: Arment Waltenbaugh (FCA) dec. Chase Bell, 7-2

145: Chase Hontz (FCA) pinned Kevyn Malgieri, 1:40

152: Max Stein (FCA) tech. fall Emery Johnson, 15-0, 4:52

160: Cael Weidemoyer (FCA) pinned Vito Gentile, 1:28

172: Adam Waters (FCA) pinned Louie DeJulia, 2:47

189: Cody Wagner (FCA) maj. dec. Colton Tupper, 10-1

215: Jason Singer (FCA) pinned Kolton Wilkinson, 2:59

Notre Dame-GP 41, Bald Eagle Area 16 

285: Gino Guerrisi (NDGP) dec. Gage Gardner, 1-0

107: Tanner Guenot (BEA) maj. dec. Jacob Volpe, 13-2

114: Ayden Smith (NDGP) pinned Liam Purcell, 2:32

121: Caden Judice (BEA) dec. Cooper Feltman, 4-2 SV

127: Tanner Berkenstock (NDGP) dec. Gavin Guenot, 2-0 SV

133: Gavyn Kelton (NDGP) dec. Lucas Fye, 9-3

139: Jared Gonzalez (NDGP) pinned Kayson Tice, 3:30

145: Mason Reese (BEA) dec. Nino Morici, 3-0

152: Nathan Thomas (NDGP) dec. Gavin Bennett, 8-5

160: Dominic Sumpolec (NDGP) by forfeit

172: Keegan Ramsay (NDGP) pinned Cameron Dubbs, 3:33

189: Caleb Close (BEA) by forfeit

215: Connor Smalley (NDGP) tech. fall Kyle Watson, 19-3, 3:42

Other first-round scores

Burrell 55, Honesdale 8

Bishop McCort 57, West Perry 6

Chestnut Ridge 39, Berks Catholic 22

Fort LeBoeuf 25, Warrior Run 23

Bishop McDevitt 41, Montoursville 25

Clearfield 42, Burgettstown 27

Friday’s quarterfinals, noon

Burrell vs. Bishop McCort

Chestnut Ridge vs. Fort LeBoeuf

Bishop McDevitt vs. Burgettstown

Notre Dame-GP vs. Faith Christian

Morning 첥Ƶ reporter Tom Housenick can be reached at 610-820-6651 or at thousenick@mcall.com

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