HERSHEY — The difference between gold and silver was a single point.
Chambersburg’s Karl Shindledecker won two bouts Saturday morning at Giant Center to reach the 120-pound final of the PIAA Wrestling Championships, but he came up one point short in that last match and was defeated 2-1 in overtime by Mac Church of Waynesburg.
A junior, Shindledecker finished his season with a 23-2 record, with both losses to Church — the other was last week in the West Super Region final, 4-3. His career mark is now 79-23, and he adds his silver medal to the bronze medal he won as a freshman. Church (28-2) placed third at 106 last year.
Trojan coach Matt Mentzer said, “From my perspective, I was a little disappointed because Church came out and wanted it to be a low-scoring match. He gave up a lot of ground (on his feet) and shut down what Karl wanted to do. Church did one committed attack in the first period and Karl almost turned it into a takedown … after that he didn’t do much. But we couldn’t get through his defense.”
Neither wrestler could get much going on their feet, both perhaps picking up some defensive ideas from the Super Region final.
Church opened the scoring in the second period with an escape at 1:47. Shindledecker evened it up 1-1 with an escape at 1:32 of the third period. In sudden victory, neither got close to a takedown.
In the first 30-second tiebreaker, Church was able to hang onto Shindledecker the entire time. Church was on bottom for TB2, and Shindledecker made the bold move to elect to cut him for an escape before the whistle, making it 2-1.
Mentzer said, “We hadn’t held Church down in three chances, so we thought our best chance to win was to let him up and try for the takedown. (Assistant coach) Chris (Kochinsky) and I talked, then we shared it with Karl and he agreed. We got close.”
Church told PA Power Wrestling, “I figured he would cut me because not many people can ride me. But he didn’t have a stall call, so maybe he could have gutted it out and gone into doubles.”
Just five seconds into the period, Church backed up and was warned for stalling. Shindledecker and Church each tried one shot and the match was stopped for a stalemate with 12 seconds left. A desperate attempt at a throw was parried by Church and he became a state champion.
“Karl got in pretty good with a shot, but they stopped it for potentially dangerous (at 0:12), and it was probably the right call,” Mentzer said.
“Church is a very savvy kid with a lot of mat intelligence and he’s well-coached. One thing he did this time was change the hand he leads with and that shut down one of Karl’s attacks. There were a couple of scrambles, but not really any good scoring chances like we had last week.”
In his first match of the day, in the quarterfinals, Shindledecker faced Gunnar Myers of Wallenpaupack and claimed a 4-0 victory.
A takedown 44 seconds in gave the Trojan the upper hand. In the second, he chose down and scored with a reversal in 35 seconds. In both periods, Shindledecker rode Myers out to the end. In the third, he chose neutral and was able to keep Myers from scoring.
In the semifinals, Shindledecker faced a stiffer task in unbeaten Dante Frinzi of Bethlehem Catholic, who earned a fifth-place medal last year. But he began the match the same way, notching a takedown 40 seconds in, then rode Frinzi out.
In the second, Frinzi took down and escaped in 25 seconds to pull within 2-1.
Shindledecker chose neutral to start the third and made it work. About 20 seconds in, he caught Frinzi in a deep fireman’s carry, then stacked him toward his head. When Frinzi rolled out of that, his back was exposed and Shindledecker held him there long enough for a five count and three points, making it 7-1. Frinzi escaped, but for the last 1:18, they remained on their feet.
Mentzer said, “Karl has had a fabulous month of wrestling. I’d say since the District 3 quarterfinals, he’s wrestled all high-caliber kids and the only one to beat him was Church. I think Karl proved something to himself and he impressed me. But now we know some things to work on so he can be better next year.”
NOTE: Ten years ago, Chambersburg made its first splash as a team at the PIAA level, placing 6th in the team standings … Sophomore Tanner Shoap was 5th at 103, sophomore Garret Hammonds, who won gold medals the next two years, was the runner-up at 135 and junior Dawson Peck was 2nd at 285 … Both Hammonds (vs. Dan Neff of Solanco) and Peck (vs. Averee Robinson of Susquehanna Twp.) lost to the same opponents they lost to in the District 3 finals.