BY JEFF FALK
HERSHEY – It is possible to perform well, and still lose. You can do your best, but fall short.
Losses aren’t failures. They’re setbacks. And they’re great growing opportunities.
Especially at the state wrestling tournament.
On Friday at Hershey’s Giant Center, during the second day of the annual PIAA Wrestling Championships, Cedar Crest’s T.J. Moore and Annville-Cleona’s Matt Inman both put their best foot forward, before seeing their seasons come to an end.
In the morning’s Class AA second round of consolations at 113 pounds, Inman endured a 7-1 defeat at the hands of East Pennsboro’s Adam Jacob. Then in the afternoon’s Class AAA second round of consolations at 220 pounds, Moore endured a heart-breaking 6-4 loss to Dillon Ferretti of Hempfield.
Officially, five Lebanon County wrestlers went a combined 2-10 at the state tournament and didn’t win a match on the mat. But below the surface, a lot of ground work was laid.
“At the beginning of the season, we wrestled him a little heavy,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Jerome Simon of Inman. “The good side of that is he wrestled a lot of physical matches. The goal was always to be on the podium at states.
“As the season went on, he really began to find his game,” added Simon. “He looked really strong at districts. Other than a bump in the road at regionals, he’s been wrestling well since January. His work ethic is great. He gets the most out of his athletic ability.”
“T.J. doesn’t get fazed by much,” said Cedar Crest head coach Christopher Voshell. “This will be a great experience for him. Sometimes kids come here and they get shocked by the big lights and the big names. But he didn’t get frozen in the lights. That was a huge thing. He went out and wrestled. I fully expect him to be here again next year.
“With our approach with expectations, we don’t look at the finite,” continued Voshell. “We look at the improvement, from where the season started to where the season ended. We were looking for T.J. to make it to districts. We weren’t necessarily looking for him to get to states. But he belongs with these guys.”
Moore’s two losses at states came by a combined total of three points, and his second and final one was especially difficult to swallow. With the match tied at four, Ferretti took Moore down with four seconds left in regulation, to register the winning margin.
It came after Moore had rallied from two different deficits – 3-0 and 4-3. The Falcon junior notched a take-down with 20 seconds left in the second stanza to knot the score at three, and he scored an escape with 30 seconds remaining in the third period to tie it at four.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Moore. “I just think he (Ferretti) had a good shot. I feel like I let some people down. But it is what it is.
“I don’t think the stadium scared me as much as I thought it would,” Moore added. “I don’t know what I could’ve done differently. But I know what I have to do next year.”
“The kid’s a good wrestler,” said Voshell of Ferretti. “In that situation, we don’t train to tie, we train to win. We want to be aggressive. He just countered T.J..
“He (Moore) wrestled well here,” added Voshell. “He lost a one-point match (3-2 to Paolo DiSanto of Plymouth Whitemarsh in Thursday’s preliminaries) and lost in the last ten seconds. You can’t ask for much more than that. His heart is huge. He’s an incredible athlete. We just would’ve liked to be on the other side of the mat.”
In just his second year of competing in the sport, Moore went 37-10 overall and finished third at the District Three/South Central Region tournament. A year ago as a sophomore, he was 21-10.
“I came into preseason workouts just wanting to be better than last year,” said Moore. “And I did that. I made it to districts and I wanted a medal. But when I came here, I didn’t know what to expect.
“It’s my second year of wrestling,” continued Moore. “I didn’t have anything from last year to go off. Next year, I’ll be able to look back on this.”
“He’s learned a lot in two years,” said Voshell. “He just needs some experience on the mat making adjustments.He’s not someone who’s grown up in the sport. And it’s not like Cedar Crest is bringing kids to states every year. He’s a gamer. He wants to win in everything that he does.”
Inman faced an uphill battle most of the way, after yielding a take-down to Jacob with 15 seconds left in the opening stanza. He trailed 5-0 at the end of the second period, and his deficit grew to seven points when Jacob recorded another take-down early in the third.
“I thought he (Inman) wrestled well,” said Simon. “He was fluid. He was constantly moving. He had great defense. He had a couple of near-misses. I thought we wrestled really well on his feet. His pace was incredible. Both guys were non-stop.
“There was probably no sense starting ‘down’ in the third period, when he was down five points,” continued Simon. “He started ‘up’, hoping to get a take-down and maybe get a turn. The second take-down was a tough one. It was a hard-fought point. We knew we had to go ‘neutral’ for the third period. Jacob had great defense as well. Matt had some really nice shots.”
Yesterday represented Inman’s second straight trip to Giant center and the state wrestling championships. The fifth-place finisher out of the Southeast Regional, he closed out his season with a 32-16 mark.
“He wants to be on the podium next year,” said Simon. “He’s been here twice. He knows what it takes to get here. He’s going to put in the work to take the next step.
“He’s a quiet kid,” Simon continued. “He’s a leader by example. He’s a smart kid. He was a very bashful kid in elementary school and middle school, but he really came out of his shell the last couple of years. He’s got a great sense of humor. He can make you laugh, but he has a great work ethic. He’s a well-rounded kid.”
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