HERSHEY — West Branch seniors Derek Yingling and Tyler Denochick ended their high school wrestling careers in style Saturday as both won their placematches at the PIAA Class AA Championships.
Yingling hit a huge five-point move in overtime to knock off Brockway senior Garrett McClintick for fifth-place at 182, while Denochick topped Hamburg sophomore Dalton Gimbor, 3-0, in the seventh-place bout at 126.
It marked the first time West Branch had two medalists during the tenure of current head coach Jason Bainey, who took over the reins in the program in 2007. The last time two Warriors landed on the podium was the spring of 2006 when Donny Clark was a state runner-up and Tim J. Smeal was sixth at heavyweight.
“That’s exciting to have two guys go down and medal,” said Bainey. “They worked really hard to get down there, and when you can take two guys down there and both medal, it’s a great accomplishment.
“The good thing is that they got to end their careers on a good note. Not everyone can say they went out in their last match as a winner.
“You hope the younger kids see what these guys are doing. We only have six returning next year and our junior high numbers were low. Some buy into the program and some don’t. It’s a year-round sport. But, Derek and Tyler showed that if you put the work in you will be rewarded and successful.”
Yingling went 5-2 on the weekend as he became just the third Warrior to capture a third state medal, joining Rob English (1995-97) and Jared Ricotta (2001-03).
Yingling (37-5) punctuated his weekend with the win over McClintick, a two-time state qualifier who came away with his first medal.
The two went to overtime tied 1-1 after trading escapes in the second and third periods. The Warrior was the one who came up with the big move in sudden victory, as he took McClintick down to his back for a five-point to end his career on a high note.
The fifth-place finish was the best of his career, as he was eighth as a sophomore and sixth a year ago.
“To place 5th this year feels good because I have progressively done better every year, even though I never managed to actually win the whole thing,” said Yingling.
While he may not have won a state title to join the likes of Jerry White, English, Justin Owens, Ricotta and Buzzy Maines, Yingling still put together one of the best careers in West Branch history. His career record of 137-24 ranks second on the school’s all-times wins list behind only Maines (143-24).
“Derek has improved every year,” said Bainey. “It just shows that if you put the work in, you can be successful. He’s a great kid and he really improved every year.
“He wanted to be wrestling in the finals, but he just had some tough matches.”
Denochick put together a 3-2 weekend en route to winning his first medal.
His biggest win of the weekend was 1-0 win against Penn Cambria’s Chase Proudfit Friday morning that put him in the medal rounds. He then suffered a heartbreaking 3-1 loss to Brockway’s Anthony Glasl in Friday night’s consolation semifinals when the Rover scored a takedown with eight seconds remaining. Glasl went to place fifth.
However, Denochick (35-10) bounced back with the win against Gimbor in Saturday’s seventh-place. The Warrior scored all three of his points in the third period on an escape and takedown after riding Gimbor the entire second period.
“I had a really good tournament ... actually I had a really good postseason,” said Denochick. “I ended up finishing fourth at districts and then beat the kid that beat me twice at districts at regionals, then ended up only losing to the runner-up and fifth-place kid there. So, I had a pretty good season.
“Your goal coming down here is to make it on the podium, and that’s what mine was.”
“When we got back to the hotel (Friday), it was kind of emotional for both us (he and Yingling) to be able to do that for Coach Bainey,” added Denochick about being the first Warrior duo to medal in the same year for their coach. “It’s just been fun for me and him (Yingling) to get to wrestle together and become friends the last few years.”
Bainey has high praise for Denochick in his first trip to Hershey.
“Tyler had never made it before, so for him to not only to make it but place seventh, it’s a big deal,” said Bainey. “He went down there and beat some good kids in a very hard weight class.
“He lost at the buzzer against Glasl. They know each other from 4M, and it was a tough loss, but he bounced back and finished seventh.”
Denochick ended his career with a record of 111-39.