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Valley Sports Report
WILLIAMSPORT — After a close semi-final match Athens junior Gavin Bradley left no doubt in the District IV, Class AA Championship 113-pound final, beating South Williamsport’s Robert Gardner 7-1 to claim his first district title.

“It’s just another stage,” said Bradley. “I can’t say enough about my coaches, I will do anything for them. They’re my family. Some people say you’ve got to go home to see your family, that wrestling room is my home, and those guys are more family than a lot of people in life.”

Athens ended up getting two out of their seven kids through to the Northeast Regionals as junior Kaden Setzer (138) took fifth. Sophomore Jacob Courtney (126) took sixth, while freshman Mason Vanderpool (120) and senior Zach Stafursky (172) both went 0-2, and junior Karter Rude (160) and sophomore Chris Bathgate (152) both lost their wrestle-in matches.

“It’s a step in the journey,” said Athens coach Shawn Bradley about Gavin. “The bigger thing is to come down here and get some good competition today, which is important to keep testing him. Both of those kids are ranked in the top eight in the State.”

Bradley knows it will be another tough week for Gavin, but also knows it’s a good moment for his junior.

“Last year, he probably gave one away here, so to get it back is probably good for him,” he said. “But ultimately, he wants more.”

Bradley struck first in the final match, getting a double-leg takedown, and a ride-out for a 2-0 lead after the first two minutes.

In the second period, he scored an escape point, then came back with another big shot for a takedown, going up 5-0 after two periods.

In the third, he nabbed his third takedown for a 7-0 lead. He would cut Gardner to try and score more, but it ended as a 7-1 final.

“My coaches just emphasized keeping the pace,” explained Gavin. “It’s not like some other guys, where there like just hang on for a one-point match — if that happens, it happens, but for the most part my coaches do not want me to do that.”

Bradley opened the day with a fall over Montgomery’s Blake Snyder in 52 seconds, then won a 4-3 decision against Warrior Run’s Kaden Milheim in the semifinals.

“It’s just like anything else, sometimes things don’t go your way,” Gavin said about his semi-final match. “That match, it didn’t really go my way, but it happened, I just wrestled.”

Setzer opened the day with a 15-4 loss to Southern Columbia’s Ian Yoder, but got a 10-2 win over Wyalusing’s Skyler Manahan in the consolations. Lewisburg’s Logan Bartlett pinned him in 2:33, but in the fifth-place match Setzer dominated Central Columbia’s Isaac Kester for a fall in 1:17.

“Kaden worked his (butt) off this offseason,” said Bradley. “He definitely deserves that. I’m proud to see that. Hopefully, he can come next week and give himself another chance.”

Setzer racked up five takedowns before getting the pin in the fifth-place mach.

“It feels good,” said Setzer. “I wanted to survive and advance.”

He had to stay mentally tough to keep focused after some tough losses.

“You’ve just got to forget a bad match, and keep the mind good,” said Setzer.

He does have one area he needs to improve on.

“Getting off bottom,” he remarked.

Courtney won his wrestle-in match, a 10-6 victory over Line Mountain’s Lane Schadel.

He then lost to Benton’s Gable Strickland, 18-2, in the quarterfinals, but came back and beat Wyalusing’s Hunter Manahan 7-3 in the consolations.

Mifflinburg’s Gabe Gramley pinned Courtney in 2:23 in the consolation semifinals. His day ended with a 6-4 setback to Troy’s Seth Seymour in the fifth-place match.

It was 4-4 going into sudden victory when Seymour got the winning takedown during a scramble.

“This is the first time I really saw Jake Courtney this year,” said Shawn Bradley. “We wrestled Lane Schadel two weeks ago, and got teched, so for him to come out and wrestle that type of match and beat that boy is awesome.

“And to come up just short against Seth … Seth’s tough, but to just come up just short probably hurts a little bit,” added Bradley. “But he’ll be back, he’ll build on that.”

Stafursky lost his opening bout 6-2 to Bloomsburg’s Stephen Roeder, then was pinned by Montgomery’s Colby Springman in 1:41.

Vanderpool was pinned by Line Mountain’s Aidan Kritzer in 33 seconds in the quarters, then lost by fall to Danville’s Andrew Johnson in 59 seconds in the consolations.

Bathgate was pinned by Danville’s Weston Whapham in 59 seconds in his wrestle-in bout, while Montgomery’s Kaide Drick pinned Rude in 3:20 in their wrestle-in match.

The Northeast Regional will be held Saturday at Williamsport Area High School.


IN PHOTO 1: Athens junior Gavin Bradley. … PHOTOS BY MATT PATTON.

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