Bassett wins Regional, Heckman moves on
WILLIAMSPORT–Avery Bassett never doubted and neither did Conner Heckman and the Midd-West duo used that resolve to advance to the Class 2A East Super Regional wrestling tournament at Martz Hall in Pottsville next Saturday.
Bassett will be going as a regional champion after he managed to keep Benton’s Nolan Lear in his clutches the entire 30 seconds of the ultimate tiebreaker in the final at 160 pounds and Heckman, who finished 6th at the regional tournament last year as a freshman, improved to third this time, getting the final transfer spot at at 132 pounds when he slipped past Muncy’s Bryce Vollman in consolation final of a very difficult bracket.
Southern Columbia won its fourth consecutive team title, 111.5-84 over runner-up Montoursville. The Mustangs grabbed a top ten finish, tying for 8th place with Wyoming Area and Jersey Shore with 30 points.
Bassett’s slot in the super regional is no surprise since he’s a three-time state qualifier, but Heckman’s might be unexpected based on his performance in both the sectional and District 4 tournaments where he needed clutch wins to secure a spot in the next tournament. He handled Mount Carmel’s Trevor McDonald, 6-1, for third place and grabbed the final ticket to the district tournament where he pinned Jersey Shore’s Liam Goodrich for fifth place and a slot in his second regional tournament.
That finish meant Heckman would be slotted against a district champion — in this case District 2 titlist Deegan Ross of Lackawanna Trail — in his quarterfinal bout. Heckman survived Ross with a takedown in sudden victory for a 7-5 decision but then fell to eventual champion Kaiden Wagner of Lewisburg, 4-2. Heckman bounced back with a convincing 8-3 win over District 4 champion Mason Leshock of Line Mountain in the consolation semifinal. He then edged Vollman, 3-2.
“All that matters in a match is who gets the most points,” Heckman said. “I knew if I wrestled well and stayed in position I could do it. I had to grind through every match to do it. I just relied on all the work I did this year and taking that out on the mat with me. It’s great to be moving on with Avery because we both work hard and I am looking forward to it.”
Bassett, who owns regional finishes of 4th, 1st, and 3rd, added his second gold medal when he survived Lear, 3-2, in a match that didn’t see a takedown. It took a mighty effort on top to control Lear who used a Bassett slip for a takedown that was the difference in a 3-2 win in their district final.
“Lear is like a gorilla, I guess, in the way that he wrestles,” Bassett said. “He’s strong and solid and hard to score on. I thought that having an overtime match with him was a possibility. The rideout was fun and stressful. I tried to get to my stuff and get a leg in and I thought I could ride him out. That’s what I did a couple times. I kind of did it five or ten seconds at a time but I got it done. The clock finally ran out so it worked out.
Bassett’s outlook on the super regional was simple.
“It’s one more weekend to wrestle and one more weekend to have fun,” Bassett said. “I’m looking forward to it.”