Mark Turner copped his third consecutive Class AA crown, leading Western Wayne to a fifth place overall finish at this year's District Two wrestling tournament.

Western Wayne’s varsity wrestling team closed out a rollercoaster season on a positive note this past weekend.

The Wildcats traveled to Scranton Prep Saturday and Sunday to compete in this year’s District Two tournament. Under the direction of rookie Coach Rich Walker, the ‘Cats battled their way to a Top 10 finish. The local lads piled up 114 team points, tied for fifth in the overall standings with Hanover Area.

“We were only able to take nine starters with us this weekend, so we were a little bit shorthanded,” Coach Walker told TWI Sports. “Considering what we had to work with, I think fifth place is pretty good. Now, we have to focus on this coming weekend.”

As a result of this stellar team performance, Western Wayne advances three wrestlers to Northeast Regionals. Mark Turner won his third consecutive District Two title, this one at 130 pounds. He will be joined at regionals by teammates Paul Garguillo, who finished third at 189 lbs., and Josh Koellner, who also took bronze at 160 lbs.

This year’s edition of the Class AA Northeast Regional event will be hosted by Williamsport Area High School. The tourney is slated to get underway Friday evening and will conclude Saturday night.

On to Regionals
Mark Turner is a man on a mission. The Wildcat senior joined the exclusive 100-Win Club early in the season, then became Western Wayne’s all-time winningest wrestler with the 118th victory of his varsity career.

On Sunday evening, Turner added yet another accomplishment to an already impressive scholastic resume. Mark copped his third straight District Two crown with a resounding win in the 130-pound final.

Turner came into the district tournament with a 28-3 record. As the top seed in his weight division, Mark was awarded an opening round bye. He began his on-mat quest for a Class AA title with a lightning-quick pin in the quarterfinals. Turner needed just :46 to clamp Mountain View’s Josh Manzer.

In the semifinals, Turner was equally impressive. Mark hammered out a 15-2 major decision over John Eisenhower of Dallas. That win earned Western Wayne’s star a berth in the final, an encounter with Lackawanna Trail’s John Lynn.

Despite Lynn’s sterling 26-9 record, Turner dominated this bout right from the opening whistle. Mark scored an early takedown and never looked back. When the final buzzer sounded, Turner had himself a 10-0 major.

“I really didn’t have any doubts that Mark was going to win,” said Coach Walker. “He wrestled a great tournament. Mark really took it to Lynn in the final. He had him on his back twice and then just road him out in the third period.”

Paul Garguillo strode into the Xavier Center on Saturday with a solid 18-8 record. Another member of Western Wayne’s talented senior class, Paul was the #3 seed in a rugged 189-pound bracket. He kicked of his quest for a medal with a first period in (:20) of Lackawanna Trail’s Jake Leader.

Garguillo followed that up with a second straight pin. This one came in the quarterfinals against Dallas’ Mark Szot (1:47). Paul then suffered his only setback of the weekend, an 8-2 loss at the hands of eventual runner-up, DJ Brown of Montrose.

To his undying credit, Garguillo bounced right back in wrestlebacks. Paul pinned Anthony Rossi of Wilkes Barre Meyers (4:24) in the semis, then pounded out a major decision in the finals. Garguillo’s 10-2 win over Elk Lake’s Jacob Eastman brought with it a visit to the podium, a bronze medal and trip to Northeast Regionals.

“I’m very happy with how Paul wrestled,” Coach Walker said. “He just walked through his first two bouts. Then, he lost a really tough one to Brown. I think he learned his lesson, though. Paul has to be a little more patient at regionals. We may see Brown again and if we do, we’ll be ready.”

Josh Koellner is one of the winter’s best wrestling stories. An unheralded and sometimes overlooked senior, Koellner piled up 26 wins during the regular season. He entered this year’s district tournament as the #3 seed at 160 pounds and quickly proved that he belongs among the area elite.

On Saturday, Josh opened up by hammering out a 15-0 technical fall against Bryan Loftus of Scranton Prep. Koellner earned a spot in the semis via a grueling 7-6 decision over Blue Ridge’s Anthony Lewis.

That bout may have taken its toll physically on Koellner as he then suffered a pin at the hands of Lackawanna Trail’s Ethan Johnson. The clamp came at the 3:32 mark and forced Josh into wrestlebacks. There, he rebounded nicely with back-to-back wins.
Koellner posted an electrifying overtime win against Mikhail McCalla of Meyers.

The 4-2 decision catapulted Josh into the third place bout versus Brent Salsman of Elk Lake. This encounter proved to be another donnybrook, but Koellner held on for a 7-5 decision and a bronze medal.

“Josh ended up right about where I expected him to,” said Coach Walker. “He was in a very tough bracket, but I figured he could take third if he worked hard and wrestled smart. Josh did really well in wrestlebacks.”

At the Podium
In addition to Turner, Garguillo and Koellner, three other Wildcats brought home District Two medals this weekend. Zach Clookey finished fifth at 112 pounds. Nick Roberts also took a fifth at 152, while Cyle Robbins earned a sixth at 145.

Clookey opened his medal quest with a 4-2 overtime win against Elk Lake’s Devan Maye. Unfortunately for ‘Cat grappling fans, Zach then suffered a first period pin at the hands of Trail’s Chris Carpenter.

He bounced back with an 11-1 major in the consolation bracket, but then dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to Blue Ridge’s Tim Esposito. Zach closed out his campaign with a resounding 7-1 win over Hanover Area’s John Elick in the fifth place bout.

Roberts started off his weekend on a roll. Nick posted back-to-back pins over Berwick’s Tom McGraw (1:38) and Sean Kruger of Blue Ridge (:54) to earn a spot in the semis. There, he ran into the eventual champion, Trail’s Brandon Dixon. Roberts fought the good fight, but suffered a 6-0 loss and dropped into the consolation bracket.

Nick absorbed a fall at the hands of Dallas’ Joe Hayes, but then rebounded to take fifth place with a win over Prep’s Louis Cornacchione.

Robbins pinned Valley View’s AJ Vancosky (2:27) to start the tournament. However, he suffered a tough 7-5 loss to Montrose’s Mike Rihl and descended into wrestlebacks.

Cyle kept his medal hopes alive with two big wins. First, he pinned Mountain View’s Jeff Butler (:36). Then, he hung a 16-1 tech fall on Dustin Simpson of Elk Lake. On the heels of an 8-4 loss to Berwick’s Josh Winklemann, Robbins dropped a razor-thin 6-5 decision against Hanover Area’s Steve Pask. That loss translated into a sixth place finish.