The only two Golden Mule wrestlers to exceed 30 wins this season came up short in their quest to qualify for states. For junior Alex Fisher it was a painful and scary experience. Fisher (31-9), wrestling in the 2008 South Central AAA Regional Tournament at the 125-pound weight class, was dropped on his head in his match with eventual silver medallist, Zach Oberlander, of Dallastown, 35-seconds into their second round match forcing Fisher to declare an injury default after suffering a mild concussion. Fisher was transported out of the Hersheypark Arena and spent the night at Hershey hospital for observation. Fortunately his injury was not severe but he was unable to continue in the tourney allowing Nick Dragonette, of Wilson, to advance in the consolation bracket. In his preliminary bout Fisher dispatched of Jared Ross, a Northern York freshman with a one-minute, 52-second fall to earn the right to face Oberlander.Wrestling in the 119-pound weight class freshman Dan Neff (33-9) had less of a harrowing experience in his first attempt at a state berth. Neff ended Big Springs senior Justin Morris's season with a 10-8 decision in his first bout. He followed that with a 9-2 decision over Jared Rhodes (Central Dauphin East) before losing to eventual champion, Chris Kochinsky (Middletown) by an 11-4 decision.
Moved to the consolation semi-finals Neff lost to third place finisher, Dave Calambas (Reading). As an irony, one of several throughout the tourney, Calambas lost his first match to Rhodes (10-3 decision) and went on from there to win four consecutive matches. Had Neff eked out a win over Calambas his trip to states would have been one match away.
According to Solanco assistant coach, Tony Mendez, there were more than a few surprises, one of the more surprising was Chris Carabello's (Governor Mifflin) defeat of the undefeated Jordan Enck (Manheim Central) at 215. Mendez was also surprised when McCaskey's Lexis Ortiz (103) defeated Big Spring's Colten Keck to earn his right to advance to states after decisioning Keck 2-1 in the consolation finals. "If I was a betting man, I'd have lost some money," wrote Mendez in a general e-mail. In addition to Ortiz and Enck the LL League will be represented by Warwick's Bryan Piarsall (3rd-125), Eric Resch (3rd-152), Antonio Giorgio (1st-189) and Elizabethtown's Shane Rosenberry (3rd-189).
Solanco finished 36th in a field of 48 teams that included Manheim Township (37th), Conestoga Valley (41st), Cocalico (42nd) and Garden Spot (45th). Warwick finished as the top team from the Lancaster-Lebanon League ending fifth behind 1. Central Dauphin, 2. Cumberland Valley, 3. Middletown and 4. Lower Dauphin.
Fortunately both Fisher and Neff have an opportunity to continue their quest for a state berth, as both will be returning to the pasture next season.
Solanco has some promising grapplers returning next season and may well have representation at the state level in 2009 besides Fisher and Neff. Again, as Coach John Little has said throughout the season, it's a matter of commitment and dedication.