Lonely champion

JOHNSTOWN – Two weeks ago, Sean Heggs scored an early – and as it turned out, necessary – takedown against Richland’s Nick Naglic.

Naglic, runner-up to Heggs after that District 6 Class AA final, worked his way through the 138-pound field for a second crack at the wrestler, who was looking to follow his first district crown with a regional title.

Heggs had a bit of a tough one Saturday morning, squeezing by Beth-Center’s Anthony Welsh in the Class AA Southwest regional semis. But Saturday night, Johnstown’s Cambria County War Memorial proved to be just as accommodating a hall as Altoona Area High School – Heggs dominated Naglic the second time around, nearly pinning him twice in an 11-1 major decision that sends him to Hershey as a region champion.

He was the lone local to advance out of the event – teammate Adam Barrick and Mount Union’s Sage Moist both dropped their first matches Saturday in the consolation bracket, ending their seasons.

Heggs was opportunistic in the second meeting with Naglic, not only taking him to the mat, but keeping him there in the first period, building a quick 5-0 lead. With an escape after starting the second underneath, it was 6-0, which is where it stayed until the third.

“He made a couple mistakes and you’ve got to clean up off his mistakes,” Heggs said. “He wasn’t going after it like he was last week at districts.”

But after that first move, neither was Heggs. In fact, toward the end of the second, Heggs appeared tired – perhaps just hesitant – and on one occasion had to wiggle free from what could easily have been an offensive score by Naglic.

“I have a weird style,” Heggs admitted. “I’ll go when I need to go. I’ll relax when I need to relax.”

It was also a sign Heggs was better prepared to go the full six minutes.

“He figured he was going to keep it close and get a win out of me today,” he said. “Last week I wasn’t feeling too good in the finals. I’ve been working on getting my second wind.”

Heggs gave Naglic his only point to start the third, then circled through half the final stanza until another opening gave him the chance to seal it with another five-point move.

Heggs scored an early takedown in the semis against Welsh, and it’s probably a good thing he did – all the offensive effort in the world mattered little for either wrestler in the final two periods, where they traded moves but scored only once more each, both escaping when starting on defense.

Welsh’s best opportunity may have been the final minute of the third, when he seemed to be getting a second wind while the Juniata wrestler gasped for air. Welsh had one good push that Heggs had to defend to the edge of the mat, but didn’t give up the takedown.

After the two locked up, no one went down, and Heggs’ steady demeanor against a panicky Welsh in the final minute kept the match in his hands.

Mount Union saw its season come to an early ending – the fourth straight year the Trojans have been unable to push a wrestler through to states.

Moist (113 pounds) was the only survivor of the first day, but he ran into a tough match with Central’s Kale Burket, who may have had the easiest bracket of any wrestler in the tournament. Burket benefited from an opening that occurred when Somerset’s Garrett Foster, the third-place entrant from District 3, failed to make weight on Friday.

Burket, who also had gotten past Moist for third in District 6, dropped from the quarterfinals after defaulting to Derry’s George Phillipi, but then due to byes did not have to wrestle again until he met Moist in the third consy.

The two traded takedowns and escapes in the first and second, but Burket picked up a point when Moist was called for locked hands. Moist matched a takedown with a pair of escapes in the third, and got a restart with 17 seconds left – but couldn’t get the score he needed to win it.

At 132, Juniata’s Barrick went through a scoreless first and was given the top to start the second against South Park’s Jake Wentzel. But Wentzel proved only too familiar with Barrick’s wrap-and-tilt style, giving a little of it back after he turned on a Peterson and started putting the Juniata grappler on his back.

With two reversals and three tilts it was a 12-0 major that ended Barrick’s high school career.