INDIANA — Saturday’s Southwest AA Regional at IUP didn’t end the way West Branch’s Landon Bainey hoped.
But it was just a small bump in the road for the freshman, who finished second at 106 pounds and moved on to next Saturday’s super regional.
Bainey, the reigning District 6 champ, moved into the championship bout easily.
The freshman defeated Burgettstown’s Parker Sentipal 6-0 before pinning Quaker Valley’s Jack Kazalas in 5:11.
That put Bainey into the final with a familiar face — Burrell’s Cooper Hornack, the District 7 champ, and also just a freshman.
“We have known Cooper all the way through elementary and junior high,” said Warriors head coach Jason Bainey. “He is a tough competitor.”
Hornack, who came in to the tourney with a 22-1 record, defeated Tyrone’s Korry Walls in the first round, before pinning Bald Eagle Area’s Logan Fye in 49 seconds in the semis.
The two wrestled to a 2-2 tie at the end of the first period, as Hornack grabbed a takedown in the first half of the period before Bainey reversed him late.
Hornack chose down to start the second and escaped with 27 seconds left in the period to take a 3-2 lead.
Bainey then went down to start the third, and struggled to get out of Hornack’s grasp, finally getting an escape with five seconds left in the match — sending it to overtime.
With no one scoring in the first two 30-second OT periods, it went to ultimate tiebreaker. Hornack chose top, and rode Bainey out for the final frame, scoring the 4-3 victory.
“It was two kids going at it, battling hard there,” Coach Bainey said. “They went to overtime and both kids gave it their all. That made it like an eight-nine minute match.
“We just fell a little short in the finals. We just made one mistake early on. We will bounce back and get ready for next week. The super regional is going to be tough but we will be ready to go.”
The match wasn’t without controversy though, as Burrell complained about the time left on the clock, while West Branch thought they had an escape with six seconds left in the UTB. There were several meetings at the scoring table between the two coaching staffs, but the referees’ decision stayed for both arguments.
“Clearly on a reversal, you just have to have your hands locked and it’s two,” said Bainey. “It’s not a takedown. They didn’t want to ask the mat judge, which is what he is there for. In overtime, once you break free that’s an escape. We broke free and he grabs our ankle. That’s a stalemate with six seconds to go, and that’s an escape.
“I tell the kids, we put ourselves in a situation where we let the referee decide the match. We just have to work hard and get a little bit better and get a bigger lead next time. It’s two coaches in the corner. If we can’t have fans here, why can we have nine coaches in the corner. It is what it is. We will just get ready to go next week for the super regional and hopefully place in the top four and get to Hershey.”
Bainey’s quarterfinal bout at next Saturday’s West AA Super Regional will be against Conneaut’s Hunter Gould. Hornack will wrestle Fye again in his quarterfinal bout.
West Branch also had another wrestler in Ethan Yingling, who just missed getting out after falling in his fifth-place bout.
Yingling won his first bout over Meyerdale’s Bryant Most 3-0. He then fell in the semis to top-seeded Patrick Cutchember of Quaker Valley.
He dropped into the consolation round, where he was downed by Knoch’s Eli Reese, which put him in the fifth-place match.
Yingling was topped by Briar Deline of Huntingdon, 7-4, to end up sixth.
“Ethan lost a heartbreaker up 4-1 in 3rd period,” Bainey said. “Any other year he would be going to states as we always take six, but this year is different being COVID-19 year. Ethan had a strong post season run but just came up one match short this weekend.”
The super regional will be back at IUP and is set to begin at 8 a.m.