Hidlay finishes sixth in Class AAA states

HERSHEY – As often as not, the PIAA wrestling championships offer one wrestler a chance to prove his success against the best wasn’t a fluke, and the opponent to show otherwise.

Rematches are hardly uncommon here; in the Class AAA event this year, Mifflin County’s Hayden Hidlay already had seen a pair of familiar faces on his way to the podium.

It was a couple guys he didn’t know who decided where he’d be wrestling the season’s final match. And that one – surprise – was a rerun, too.

And it wasn’t as easy for Hidlay the second time around.

Punxsutawney’s Kaleb Young, whose first loss of the season came to Hidlay in the Class AAA Northwest region final, strong-armed Hidlay to the mat, and the Husky winced as he gave up a takedown with five seconds left in the short first period.

Young added a quick escape to start the second, and for the first time in the three-day tournament Hidlay looked like he was not in control.

“It was a tough match to wrestle. That’s really all I can say about it,” Hidlay said.

He regained his composure as the second period moved along, and took the Chuck grappler to the mat late in the second. The defensive point in the third took 30 seconds, and Hidlay immediately pursued Young in an effort to break the 3-3 tie showing on the scoreboard.

Time was running short when Hidlay had another chance, and Young had him on the edge of the circle and got out.

The match went to overtime. And with a takedown that had Hidlay on his back, it went to Young, an 8-3 decision with back points. Hidlay finishes the season as the sixth-best in his weight class in the state.

“I’d like it to be higher, but you just have to take what you can get,” he said.

In his Saturday opener, Hidlay had to work harder than usual for a takedown, but he got the lone offensive score in the match.

Against Manheim Township’s Cortlandt Schuyler, Hidlay moved through a scoreless first period but got the crucial first point in the second after he won the toss and started on the bottom. Schuyler also picked up a stall warning before the middle period ended, but there was no more scoring.

Schuyler evened it on his first escape in the third, but in the final minute Hidlay finally was able to gain control and a sustainable lead. Schuyler got out again, but was unable to take down the Husky wrestler.

Hidlay suffered his second setback of the tournament in the fourth consolation round, where he drew Cumberland Valley’s Patrick Duggan, who lost in the morning semis.

The two had not wrestled this year; Hidlay went up to 145 when the Commonwealth Division teams met in the regular season.

Duggan, who also came to Hershey with two losses – one to two-time state champion Jason Nolf of Kittaning – advanced to the third-place match on a second-period takedown that was the difference in a 3-1 outcome.

“I came back from the quarterfinal loss pretty well. I had some, a few, glimpses with greatness and I had some really rough times,” Hidlay said.

It wasn’t one thing – it was wrestling on his feet and on the mat, on top and on the bottom, he said.

“Pretty much a little bit of everything needs worked on,” he said. “I can always work on my shot defense. I got taken down too many times this weekend. If you’re scoring you’re not getting scored on.”

Hidlay is just the second wrestler to climb the medal stand in Hershey since Mifflin County High School was born, and that alone has value. But, his coach admitted, it’s not going to be enough for this young wrestler.

“To be on the podium is very significant, especially in the state of Pennsylvania,” Huskies coach Kirby Martin said. “But Hayden has higher goals. Overall it’s going to feel like he came up short.”

That, too, could have value.

“If he can use it as a motivating factor to just want to be the best, then yes,” Martin said. “Right now it’s just hard to swallow. It’s going to take some time to heal.”