Trojan foursome heads to Hershey
Nick Dolak was faced with a decision that many high school athletes have to make in their senior year. He suffered an injury during his final season at Parkland. But he refused to let the set back shut down his wrestling season. He still had things he needed to accomplish.
Dolak missed much of his senior season while battling the injuries. While he’s still nowhere near 100 percent, he managed to reach the title bout at last weekend’s Northeast Regional Tournament and finished the event with a silver medal.
“I missed most of the season,” said Dolak. “I tore one of my shoulders and slightly tore the other one. They’re still both slightly torn but I can’t get surgery or I’ll be out for the year.”
Dolak is one of four Trojan grapplers that are headed to Hershey this week for the PIAA Class 3A championships. Teammates Zach Ortman, Adam Lizak and Brandon Kassis are also heading to Hershey after successful regional tournament showings.
Dolak, who placed fourth at districts a week earlier, pinned his first regional opponent, beating District 12 runner-up Reynaldo Garcia, a freshman from Mariana Bracetti Academy, in 1:37. He won his quarterfinal match by a 10-9 decision over Liberty’s Travis Brown, then knocked off district champ Josh Mason of Blue Mountain in the semifinals, 7-3.
Bethlehem Catholic’s Kenny Herrmann won the title bout for the 126-pound title over Dolak, 5-2.
“I think I wrestled pretty well,” said Dolak of his regional tournament. “I went out there strong, with a lot of aggression and did my best. It’s all on the line now. I either had to perform or I was done.”
Dolak took last season off, but has competed at regionals all three years of his high school career and is making his second trip to states. He got there as a sophomore and went 1-2. He plans to draw on that experience in 2016 to help him when he gets inside the Giant Center Thursday.
“I won’t be as nervous,” Dolak said. “I have seen how big the crowds are and you know how things are run a little bit better. It should be business out there now, not a new experience.”
His goal is to place as high as he can in Hershey.
“It would be nice to win states, but I’m just going out there to see how well I can do and keep winning matches,” Dolak said.
Kassis entered the 120-pound bracket at regionals after placing third at districts. he pinned his first opponent and won by technical fall in his second bout. But Stroudsburg’s Cameron Enrique picked up an 8-6 decision over Kassis in the semifinals, forcing the Parkland junior into the consolation bracket.
Kassis won both his matches in consolations, incluing a 6-5 decision over Logan Ninos (Northampton) in the third-place bout.
Parkland senior Zach Ortman (138) repeated his performance from last season, when he took third at both regionals and districts. He pinned his first regional opponent this year but lost his second bout and battled through the consolation bracket, where he won four straight matches, including a 10-3 decision over Delaware Valley’s Mike McKinney, the District 2 champ, in the regional third-place bout.
Ortman heads to states hoping for his second medal in two years. He took fourth place last year in Hershey.
Lizak (182) came into regionals after a fourth-place finish at districts. Like Ortman, he won his first bout but lost his second one and had to fight through the consolation bracket with three straight wins. Those wins earned him a rematch with Delaware Valley’s Andrew Kidd, who beat Lizak 11-5 in the quarterfinal round. Kidd won the third-place bout 16-6 and Lizak finished fourth.
While the Trojans were only one win over .500 in the regular season, they’ve been making up for that mediocre campaign with a stellar postseason. Six Parkland wrestlers got through districts and four of them are now headed to states.
“After the season we had we didn’t have too much hope,” said Dolak. “But the coaches kept saying we could do it and we could get a lot of people out to Hershey and we did.”