2022 PIAA INDIVIDUAL WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Collins Falls Short and Settles for Silver
By Glenn Kaiser
Hershey, PA-Sammy Sasso was too much for Central Bucks East’s Quinn Collins in the 189-pound championship match at the Giant Center Saturday night. Nazareth’s Sasso was one of two Nazareth wrestlers to garner gold as they won the team championship with 135-points over their local Lehigh Valley rival Bethlehem Catholic (109pts.). Sasso shut out Collins 5-0 with his quirky style. Sasso combines a long and strong physique with a funky style of wrestling, which is actually a very solid recipe for success when you add in his quickness and relentless attacks. It was too much for Collins. Nonetheless, Collins completes his scholastic career with three trips to Hershey, a sixth place finish in 2021 and a silver medal runner-up finish this season. He finishes his career with a 129-34 record, 42-2 in 2022 and 64 career falls. Interesting enough, Quinn transferred back home to Central Bucks East after compiling a 31-13 record his freshmen year at Archbishop Wood. He missed states in 2019 after finishing fifth in the Northeast Region.
Unfortunately, Suburban One wrestlers were plagued by setbacks and losses at inopportune times throughout these 2022 state championships. In fact, no District One/SE Region grappler won a state title, and there were only two finalists for all of D1, including Collins. However, a small group of SOL wrestlers rebounded well after critical losses during the tournament. Council Rock North’s Eren Sement (106) and CR South’s Matt Colajezzi (160) both went 5-1 over three days in Chocolate Town, USA, garnering bronze medals. Quakertown’s Frederick Retter did the same at 285-pounds, running thru the consolation bracket finishing his career with a fall over Clearfield’s Oliver Billotte in the consi-final.
Colajezzi’s one hiccup occurred in the quarters where he lost to Jared Keslar (Connellsville), who ended up winning the title at 160. Colajezzi avenged his SE Regional finals’ loss to Chase Barlow (Strath Haven) 2-0 in the consolation semi-finals and capped his career with a win over West Allegheny’s Shawn Taylor 1-0 to secure the bronze. He finishes his scholastic career with a 146-30 record after a 44-3 senior campaign. Sement, just a rookie at this event, will surely be one to watch over the next several years, as he will bring a 41-6 record back to start next season. CR North’s Tony Burke placed fifth at 113-pounds after receiving a forfeit from Williamsport’s Cael Nasdeo. Burke garnered two state medals during three appearances in Hershey over his career. Unfortunately, he was a victim of a shortened Covid season last year and finished up 99-48 overall.
Q-town’s Retter, who did not wrestle full-time his freshman year, ended up with 59 pins and a 90-31 career record. Fellow Panther, freshman Collin Gaj impressed, as he did all season with a fourth place finish at 132-pounds. Gaj lost for the second time in this tourney to fellow freshman, BECA’s Kollin Rath, 3-1 in the bronze medal bout. Both Gaj (45-7) and Sement will be contending for state titles down the road. CB West’s Carl DiGiorgio suffered the same fate he did in the ETR finals against State College’s Nick Pavelchko losing 10-2 in the consi-finals at 215-pounds. DiGiorgio ended his career with three appearances at the Giant Center, two medals (fifth in 2021 and fourth this year), a 116-32 career mark with 61 falls. Other SOL medalists included CR South’s Luke Reitter at 106 with an eighth place finish. He is just a sophomore and will surely be in the hunt to secure three state medals in the future.
Despite the disappointment for many SOL grapplers, especially a trio of 152-pounders, all in all, it was just a tough, rugged PIAA Championship which included all of the typical upsets and last-minute victories, with a little controversy built in. The best part of these championships was the normal conditions: fans in the stands, media permitted to conduct their business and coaches and wrestlers with no masks as the pandemic is turning into the endemic. The future is bright for SOL wrestlers, and with the upcoming postseason with MAWA’s and offseason preparations, it starts now.