PIAA wrestling: Shippensburg senior having 'fun' as pivotal rematch awaits in Final Four
Dominic Frontino had barely stopped trying to earn a few extra points when he wrapped an arm around his opponent.
A dominant competitor one second ... a gracious winner the next.
The Shippensburg senior earned his first trip to the state semifinals with a 12-1 win over Perkiomen Valley's Gavin Pascoe in the Class 3A 160-pound quarterfinals at Hershey's Giant Center Friday afternoon. Frontino embraced and patted Pascoe on the back moments before his arm was raised in victory.
A few minutes later, he smiled as he explained that Pascoe is a "good kid" who he practiced against Wednesday on the eve of the state tournament. He happily chatted about his terrific start to his final start tournament — seemingly unbothered that his potential semifinals opponents were still competing for the chance to face him.
"I'm having tons of fun," Frontino said with a laugh. "I'm just taking it all in. It's a blast. I'm so thankful for my coaches and that I'm able to be healthy. I have a great support system here with my family and friends.
"I just have to keep scoring points, stay loose and have some fun."
More on Frontino"Here's why a second District 3 title is 'sweeter' for this Shippensburg wrestling star
Frontino has had plenty of reasons to smile lately. He's 34-1 this season and hasn't lost since mid January. He's earned bonus points in eight of his nine bouts this postseason.
He's clearly fully recovered from serious tears in his right knee that hampered him at times last season.
Still, Frontino will face a huge challenge Saturday morning. His opponent in the semifinals is Chartiers Valley senior Dylan Evans. The defending Class 3A state champion at 152 pounds, Evans beat Frontino in the state quarterfinals last season.
The winner of that match will wrestle for the 160-pound 3A title Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Frontino acknowledged it would "be good to get revenge" on Evans, but said he wouldn't change his approach regardless of who his opponent was. While that might seem cliche, Frontino was genuinely unaware who won the other semifinal bout until a friend approached him to tell him Evans was victorious.
"Whoever steps in the mat, I'm going out and scoring points from every position," Frontino said. "Keeping the same plan and not changing for anyone. Getting my shots and if they get into my legs, solid defense and then I'm scoring."
PIAA wrestling Day 1:Two weeks after defeat, Lebanon senior thrives under the spotlight again
Frontino said he was raised to keep his competitive streak on the mat separate from his engaging personality off of it. Still, he said his confidence was boosted this past offseason after wrestling at M2 Training Center outside State College under legendary Penn State wrestler and Olympic gold medalist David Taylor.
He said he would relax Friday evening by chatting with friends about the upcoming NCAA Wrestling Championships in Tulsa next week — which Frontino plans to attend.
Still, he said he'll be focused by Saturday morning. After winning his first two state matches by a combined score of 27-3, he knows he will likely get challenged on what will be the final day of his high school career.
"There's no better way to end your career than with a gold tomorrow," Frontino said.
Northern Lebanon sophomore cruises to finals
Aaron Seidel usually appreciates when his matches last a full three periods.
Friday evening, he wanted to get it over as soon as possible.
The Northern Lebanon sophomore booked a second straight trip to the state finals by pinning Burrell's Cam Baker in the first period of the Class 2A 10-7-pound semifinals. Seidel will try to defend his 2022 state title Saturday afternoon against Chesnut Ridge's Dominic Deputy.
More:Complete results from the 2023 PIAA Class 2A wrestling tournament
"I just want to get the match done because anything can happen," he said. "I just wanted to get it done and move on.
"My goal was to make the finals again and hopefully tomorrow I can win."
Seidel acknowledged that this state tournament has been a different experience for him. Last year, he cruised at times but was still challenged in some bouts. This season, he's won every postseason bout by pin, tech fall or major decision. The only points he's given up in the state tournament were three escapes in a 18-3 win in the first round Thursday.
In fact, Seidel hasn't given up a takedown since a 6-2 win on Dec. 19.
The opponent? Dominic Deputy
"Dom's going to come out strong tomorrow so we'll see how that goes," Seidel said. "I'm always motivated no matter what. I just keep pushing. But I think I got a little more dominating this year. I always get nervous before a match but once I'm on the mat I'm fine."
Seidel will carry a career 96-1 record into the finals tomorrow.
Three York County wrestlers earn first state medals
A year ago, Macon Myers came one win from a state medal and was devastated.
He got over that hump Friday.
The Central York senior 172-pounder guaranteed his first state medal with a 14-6 win over Souderton's Ben Beckett. Myers lost to Waynesburg's Rocco Welsh, 25-10, in the Class 3A quarterfinals earlier Friday evening.
Myers' teammate, Elias Long, guaranteed his first state medal by battling though the consolation bracket at 139 pounds. A junior, Long beat Gettysburg's Gabriel Pecaitis, 3-2, to earn a spot on the podium. Long also beat Pecaitis for the District 3 Class 3A title two weeks ago.
Spring Grove's Michael Hershey also earned a state medal with a 3-1 win over 3-1 win over Strath Haven’s Ben Farabaugh. Hershey was pinned by Trinity's Ty Banco in the heavyweight quarterfinals.
Lebanon's Griffin Gonzalez also guaranteed his second straight state medal with a 3-2 win over McDowell’s Artis Simmons in the Class 3A 152-pound consolation bracket. Gonzalez lost, 7-0, to Hempfield Area's Lucas Kapusta Friday.
Those four wrestlers can finish as high as third and as low as eighth Saturday.
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, email@example.com or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.