STRASBURG — Having come up a win short of qualifying for the Class 2 state wrestling tournament a year ago, Central sophomore 106-pounder Andrew Scibelli had reason to be a little extra amped for Saturday’s Region 2B Championships at Strasburg.
A match Scibelli wasn’t even a part of gave him even more fuel.
As he awaited his matchup against Stuarts Draft sophomore Daniel Parkulo in the 106-pound championship finals, Scibelli watched his older brother, Central senior Jacob Scibelli, rally from down 10-0 in the third-place match at 145 pounds to stun Wilson Memorial’s Michael Deegan and claim the final state-qualifying spot in that weight class.
Wanting to emulate his older brother and win his final bout of the tournament, Andrew Scibelli became the first Falcon since 2012 to win a regional championship when he pinned Parkulo midway through the second period of their 106-pound final.
“It feels really great to know that I worked hard throughout the season and improved so much,” Andrew Scibelli said. “I think it kind of being my brother’s senior year, I kind of wanted to live up to how he wrestled. Kind of doing it for him and doing it for my family.”
Andrew Scibelli was the first of three local wrestlers to win Region 2B titles on Saturday, as Strasburg juniors Peyton Stickles (132) and Alec Campbell (170) followed suit during the championship finals to highlight a group of local state qualifiers — a title limited to the top three in each weight class — that included five Rams and three Falcons.
Wilson Memorial cruised to its second straight regional championship as it piled up 252 points, easily outpacing runner-up George Mason (149) and third-place Strasburg (128).
In the first bout of the championship round, Scibelli and Parkulo took turns trading reversals in the first period after the latter’s initial takedown eight seconds into the match. Parkulo chose neutral to start the second period and broke a 4-4 tie with another quick takedown, but Scibelli’s third reversal of the bout put Parkulo on his back and the match ended with a pin with 1:00 showing on the clock.
“He got that first takedown and I knew that I messed up a little bit. I’m pretty good at reversals, so I decided to reverse and see how I did on top and, I don’t know, it just all went good from there,” Scibelli said. “Even though we kept (trading) reversals, I knew that my pinning combinations would save me in the end.”
Stickles, a two-time state runner-up, added a second regional championship to his collection of hardware with his second-period pin of Draft’s Asher Coffey in the finals.
Stickles, who hadn’t wrestled the Cougars sophomore since pinning Coffey in last season’s regional semifinals, nearly got caught when he was thrown to his back with 45 seconds left in the second period, but he scored a quick reversal and secured the pin with 33 seconds remaining.
“I just try to never panic when I’m on my back and just try to go with the flow, and that’s what I did,” said Stickles, who likened his winning move to the one that decided the 184-pound championship match at the 2018 NCAA Championships. “Watching (Penn State’s) Bo Nickal versus (Ohio State’s) Myles Martin in the national finals, he did that exact same thing.”
Campbell gave the Rams a second individual regional title when he outlasted Wilson Memorial’s Reed Jones for a 7-4 decision. Like Andrew Scibelli, Campbell was motivated by his experience at the 2018 regional tournament, when he settled for silver.
“Last year we wrestled regionals at Wilson and then I realized I had kid from Wilson in the finals at our home school (on Saturday),” Campbell said, “so I kind of wanted to take it back to them.”
Campbell built a 6-2 lead on a first-period takedown and two near-fall points early in the second period. Jones trimmed Campbell’s lead to 6-4 with a takedown later in the second, but the Wilson senior was forced to cut Campbell loose for an escape point with 1:25 left in the third period and never got closer.
“This means a lot,” Campbell said. “I’ve never won a regional title so I feel like this momentum’s gonna carry into states, hopefully.”
Two other local wrestlers — Strasburg’s Jaylon Burks (138) and Central’s Billy Ball (182) — also reached the championship finals but fell short of gold medals.
Burks, who won a regional title as a freshman last season at 126 pounds, fell in a 5-0 hole against Draft’s Bryce Sawyer and never recovered in a 9-2 loss.
Ball nearly pulled off an upset of Wilson Memorial senior Michael Holmes in his championship bout but was pinned with 48 seconds remaining after carrying a 6-2 lead into the third period. Ball tripped Holmes into a 5-point move with 30 seconds left in the first period but couldn’t complete the pin. Holmes, pushing against Ball’s full bodyweight, just managed to keep his shoulder off the mat over the final 30 seconds of the period.
Central head coach Greg Stickles said afterward that Ball thought he’d secured the pin by the time the buzzer sounded.
“I could see the light through it,” Stickles said of the gap between Holmes’ shoulder and the mat. “(Ball’s) very upset, hard on himself right now. Billy was telling me he should’ve beat him, and I said not many people will remember the regional champion next year or the year after. I said ‘go win states next week, everybody will remember you for years to come.’ So that’s what Billy’s getting in his mindset right now.”
Joining Ball and his younger brother at next weekend’s Class 2 state tournament in Salem will be Jacob Scibelli, who more than earned his third and final trip to states with his impressive comeback in the consolation finals. Trailing Deegan 10-0, Scibelli scored 11 unanswered points — including 10 in the third period — and won the bout with two near-fall points as time expired.
“In the four years I’ve been around Jacob … that was the best match I’ve ever seen Jacob wrestle, to come from a deficit like he did,” Greg Stickles said. “I was impressed with Jacob and his poise to make that comeback. I couldn’t ask for anything more than Jacob gave.”
Two Strasburg wrestlers, Austin Stickles (106) and Luke Jenkins (220), rebounded from semifinal losses to secure a state bid with third-place victories. Stickles made quick work of Wilson’s Jacob Talarico with a 14-second pin in the consolation finals and Jenkins, who spent all season at 195 pounds before bumping up for the postseason, emerged from a physical bout with East Rockingham’s Octavious Brown as a 9-1 winner.
“The five we’re taking down (to the state tournament) are five pretty good ones,” Rams head coach Mike Wood said. “They should do well. So I’m not disappointed. Overall it was in our range what we thought. You’d always like to have one or two more but I’m OK with it.”