As the 2017-2018 wrestling season wrapped up, Southmoreland had two of three wrestlers place at the state tournament in Hershey Pa on March 8-11.
Both Tyler Griffiths (third) and Jaden Datz (fifth) took to the medal stand as they battled their way through the tournament day by day.
“I took things match day-by-day and to break it down more for myself even match by match,” said Griffiths. “I may have come up short of a state title, but I’m happy with the career I’ve had here at Southmoreland. I feel like I left it all out on the mat taking third.”
“I knew going into the tournament I was going to have to take things at my pace and wrestle smart,” said Griffiths. “Being at the state tournament, you wrestle bigger and better competition.”
Griffiths battled his way to the semifinal round until getting his first loss of the tournament to Nathan Haubert of Palisades.
“It just came down to technique,” said Griffiths.”He outwrestled me that match.”
Losing the match put him in the 5th round of consolations against Hunter Michaels of Reynolds and gave Griffiths the opportunity to “battle back.”
“After getting the loss my focus was placing as high as I could,” said Griffiths. “I knew that meant I was going to have to continue to wrestle smart and clean and then I would be able to wrestle back.”
Griffiths faced Caleb Hetrick of Brookville and won with a default of 2:23.
“When you get to the tournament it’s all about who wants in the most,” said Griffiths. “I went out on the mat for third place with a strategy and I executed it properly, and because of that I took third.”
For Datz and this being his first appearance at the state tournament, he reached the goal that he had set for himself.
“My goal was to place in an odd number,”said Datz.” So either first, third, or fifth, and I went out and wrestled and got fifth not only for myself but for the school as well.
Like Griffiths, Datz received a bye in the preliminary rounds to give him the OK into the first round against Will Chess of Mercer and giving Datz a win in a decision of 10-4.
“My plan was just to go into every match like I would any other time which is by staying focused,” aid Datz. “We’ve all worked hard to get to this point but I wanted to start the tournament with a win to boost my confidence.”
As the tournament got to the second round for the 170 pound weight class, Datz was set to wrestle returning state champ Edmond Ruth of Susquehanna Township. The match gave Datz his first loss of the tournament with a major decision of 17-5.
“My plan for the match was just to go at him right off the whistle because he wouldn’t be expecting it,” said Datz. “I knew going into the tournament that he was going to be the toughest competition so I didn’t get down on myself too much. You can’t with wrestling. You have to recover and go out and win your next match.”
Which is exactly what Datz did as he won his next match against Gavin Henry of Union City. From there, he continued to battle through each consolation round winning until he got up to round 5 losing against Dalton Group of Susquenita 3-0, giving him a shot at the fifth place medal.
Aside from Datz and Griffiths, Southmoreland also had Ryan Mauro competing in the 220 pound weight class.
For Mauro, he went 0-2 in the tournament with two losses.
“I’m using that as motivation for next year,”said Mauro.” I’m not done yet and I don’t plan to stop wrestling. I want to make it back to states and I want to place.”
The team ended the season with two wrestlers on the medal stand and with a hopeful outlook on what is yet to come for the season.
“We have a good program going,”said Coach Steve Santia.” It’s been a privilege to coach both Jaden and Tyler and I know we can will still continue to progress and get better in the years coming with this program.”