ALTOONA — It will look like Karl Shindledecker has gone through a war.
In fact, that’s just what the PIAA West Super Region wrestling tournament at Altoona H.S. on Saturday was. It brought together the top three wrestlers from the Southwest Region, considered the best in the state, as well as the best from the Northwest and South Central Regions. The West featured an overwhelming number of higher-ranked wrestlers than the East and it was a beast to get through.
But Shindledecker managed to do so, even if it took four stitches to do so.
A junior from Chambersburg, Shindledecker earned two wins to reach the final at 120 pounds, where he was edged 4-3 by nationally-ranked Mac Church of Waynesburg. He advances to next Saturday’s PIAA Championships, along with three others from the West and four from the East in each weight.
The two other local entrants to the tournament fell short of their goal to reach next week — Chambersburg senior Tate Nichter was fifth at 172 and Shippensburg junior Dominic Frontino was sixth at 138.
Shindledecker began with a pin in 3:57 over Caleb Fasick of Altoona, then defeated Dylan Coy of North Allegheny, 5-1. A three-point nearfall in the second period put him comfortably ahead.
In the final, Shindledecker received a penalty point early, then took Church down for a 3-0 lead. But in the process of the move, he was accidentally struck in the head.
“He got a cut over his eye, which eventually took four stitches,” Chambersburg coach Matt Mentzer said. “His eye is swollen shut and purple now. But they just wrapped him up then, and after about 4-5 minutes, he was ready to wrestle again. I don’t think it affected him much.”
But, before the first period ended, Church escaped and then scored a key takedown with just 3 seconds left to tie it up, 3-3. In the second, Church escaped early and for the next three minutes the opponents were on their feet with no points scored.
Mentzer said, “Karl didn’t get close to anything in the third, but there was a funky situation in the second where they called potentially dangerous, which was a good call. But a few seconds before that, Karl was close to getting two and two.
“Church is a heck of a wrestler and Karl was toe-to-toe with him.”
Nichter opened against Lance Urbas of State College, who beat Nichter 11-10 earlier in the year. This time, it was much lower scoring, and Urbas prevailed 6-1, getting a takedown and three back points early in the match.
“I think it hurt Tate that he was laying around the motel all day (the higher weights did not begin until 2:45), and he just didn’t seem ready,” Mentzer said. “He got off to a slow start and Urbas is good defensively. He got the lead and didn’t have to score.”
Nichter came back to avenge his other loss this season, beating Thomas Dressler of Spring Grove 5-2 in a consolation bout. But in the match he had to win to advance to next week, Nichter was handcuffed 3-0 by Sammy Starr of Kiski Prep. He could not score from bottom in the second period.
In the bout for fifth place, Nichter (23-5) ended his career with a 23-second fall over Brian Finnerty of Thomas Jefferson.
Mentzer said, “He got better as the day went on, but that first loss put him behind the eight ball. Tate will go down as our all-time leader in pins, and as one of our best wrestlers. He had all kinds of accomplishments.”
Nichter finished his impressive career with 122 wins and 73 pins.
Shippensburg’s Frontino had a very tough draw in the first round and lost 8-1 to Waynesburg’s Cole Homet.
But he did come back to hand a 6-5 defeat to Caden Dobbins of Dallastown in the first round of consolations, reversing a loss to Dobbins in districts. Frontino went ahead 5-1 with a takedown and nearfall in the second, but Dobbins tied it with a reversal to Frontino’s back. An escape with 1:05 remaining proved to be the winning point.
Frontino was then beaten 5-3 by Dylan Evans of Chartiers Valley in the match deciding the state qualifiers, as Evans broke a 2-2 tie in the third with an escape and takedown. In the fifth-place bout, Frontino (18-6) was pinned by Josh Miller of Central Dauphin.
Greyhound coach Tony Yaniello said, “He had a good tournament for a sophomore in a tough bracket. He was able to beat the Dallastown kid who beat him in districts and only lost 5-3 in the blood round. I’m looking forward to the next two years as he grows physically and mentally.”