Kiser and Kightlinger hunt for hardware at states

By Braeden Kantz, managing editor

Saegertown wrestlers are headed to the PIAA AA Individual State Championship in Hershey. Junior Kenny Kiser will make his third consecutive appearance along with junior Alex Kightlinger, who will make his debut at the 2019 State Competition.

Last weekend at the North West Regional tournament, both Kiser and Kightlinger secured their place at states. Kiser claimed his second region title with a 6-2 decision over Rocco Bartolo from Reynolds. Kightlinger placed fourth, securing his first appearance in the state tournament.

The Saegertown Panthers have sent wrestlers to the PIAA State Championship for 11 consecutive years under the leadership of head coach Jimmy Mulligan. Mulligan has mentored ten state medalists, including four state champions.

Kiser, who is currently ranked second in the state by the PA Power Wrestling website, will attempt to capture his first state medal this weekend. After two consecutive losses in the “blood round” (a high stakes round in which you medal if you win, and go home if you lose), Kiser is excited to return to the Giant Center and attempt to bring home some hardware. “I don’t want to repeat what happened last year,” Kiser said. “I have a lot more confidence in my wrestling and my ability to compete at the top levels after this season.”

Kightlinger, who is also ranked by PA Power Wrestling, will make his first appearance as an individual in Hershey this weekend. After coming up short in the 2018 regional tournament, Kightlinger battled back in 2018-2019, boasting a (35-14) season record and placing fourth in the region, qualifying him for the state tournament. “I feel pretty proud that I’m here, and I’m ready to take home some hardware for the first time,” Kightlinger said.

Wrestling will begin tomorrow March 7 at 9 a.m. The tournament will continue on Friday and the finals and other medal rounds will take place on Saturday, March 9.

For live updates, follow us on twitter @PantherPressSHS.

Panthers move on in postseason run

By Braeden Kantz, managing editor

The Saegertown Panthers capitalized on another trip to the District 10 tournament last weekend, advancing five wrestlers to the North West Regional tournament which kicks off today at Sharon High School.

In the mix for the Panthers are senior Dawson Bartholomew, junior Kenny Kiser, junior Alex Kightlinger, freshman Landon Caldwell, and breakout athlete of the week, sophomore Jaden Reagle.

Reagle was seeded second in the Section 1 tournament and was able to triumph in the finals over first-seeded senior from Union City, William Burgess 2-1.

This marked Reagle’s first tournament championship in his varsity career and merited his nomination and win as Breakout Athlete of the Week from GoErie.  Reagle went onto qualify for the region tournament by placing sixth at districts. “I’m excited to return to regions,” said Reagle. “I surprised I was nominated for the breakout athlete, but I hope to continue wrestling well this weekend.”

Kiser, who is currently ranked second in the state by papowerwrestling.com, captured his third consecutive Section 1 title beating Joel Huck from Fort LeBoeuf 16-3, earning a major decision. Kiser then took second place at the district tournament falling short in a last-minute effort from Alex Chess of Mercer. Kiser led Chess for the majority of the match, but Chess was able to rally with a last-second near fall to put Chess ahead 7-5. Kiser said “We both wrestled well, but (Chess) was able to beat me in the last few seconds. I’m planning on focusing on every match and look forward to wrestling (Chess) again.”

Veteran wrestlers Dawson Bartholomew and Alex Kightlinger also secured spots in the regional bracket. Kightlinger, who captured his first Section 1 Title this year, claimed his spot with a  third-place finish while Bartholomew placed fifth in the 132-pound bracket to make his first appearance in the District 10 tournament.

Freshman Landon Caldwell will also make his first appearance at regions after placing eighth in districts.

The North West Region tournament begins today, March 1 and 2, at Sharon High School. You can see the brackets and follow the action at pa-wrestling.com.

The top four from the region tournament will advance to the PIAA AA State Tournament which will be help March 7-9 at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Mulligan makes history at Tool City Tournament

by Braeden Kantz and Laura Monico, sports editor and social media editor

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Cody Mulligan captured his fourth straight  Tool City title on Jan. 6.

PIAA state champion wrestler Cody Mulligan became only the seventh wrestler to claim the gold medal four times at the Tool City Tournament.  On Jan. 6,  some of the state’s best wrestlers met in the 39th annual tournament finals where two of Saegertown’s best found themselves on the podium. Junior Kenny Kiser placed second,  and senior Cody Mulligan captured his fourth straight title. After beating rival Julian Gorring from Fort LeBoeuf 8-1 in the finals, Mulligan joins a small group of elite wrestlers who have accomplished such a feat.  

Going into this year’s tournament, Mulligan had beaten all of his opponents in the finals by one point. Mulligan said “Before the match, all I could think about was that I had only won by a point in the finals the last three years, so this year I was looking to dominate whoever I wrestled.” Mulligan is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation with a season record of 24-3. He has the chance to become Crawford County’s first ever two time PIAA State Champion.

The head coach of the Saegertown wrestling team, Jim Mulligan said, “Looking forward our goal is to keep wrestling well throughout the season and ultimately to be selected for the Dapper Dan tournament.” Even after such a feat, Mulligan is still working towards achieving his national level goals. He hopes to win his second state title and be nominated for the Dapper Dan team where the best athletes in the country are selected to compete on a team against Pennsylvania’s best wrestlers. In the wrestling community, being selected for this team is a huge feat.

Mulligan has already accomplished many of his personal goals this season, but he plans to achieve greater things. Mulligan’s Tool City win has credited him as one of Crawford County’s best wrestlers, but he is striving to become one of the nation’s best this year.  

Mulligan’s state title makes for sweet homecoming

By Payton Brooks, social media editor

The bitter wind was blowing across the anxious faces of the people gathered outside Saegertown High School as four fire engines blared their horns on their way through town on Sunday, March 12.

The trucks delivered freshman Kenny Kiser, junior Cody Mulligan, and seniors Jude Mattocks and Tyler Brooks, the wrestlers who had just returned from the state championship, to a crowd of cheering supporters. Mulligan stepped out first with the memory of his father placing the gold medal around his neck still fresh in his mind.

Before he could proudly return to such a welcome, however, he had to work his way there.

This was not his first time at the state tournament. As a freshman, he qualified and competed but came out without a medal. His sophomore season, he had a severe injury during a match that required him to forfeit the final two matches. Due to the injury, he defaulted to sixth place.

This year, Mulligan overcame the impairment to have an impressive season. He placed third at the King of the Mountain tournament, second at Powerade, and first at Tool City. In the three weeks prior to winning the state championship, the 182 pound section, region, and district titles went to him. Coincidentally, he beat the same competitor each time. Out of the four Panther wrestlers that competed at the Giants Center in Hershey on Mar. 9-11, Mulligan was the only one to place in the top eight. After demolishing all competition within his bracket, with a 17-2 technical fall, a 3-1 decision, and a 11-0 major, he came face to face with Dominic Fundy of Bethlehem-Center in the finals.

“I was pretty confident because he barely beat a guy that I had defeated three weeks in a row. It gave me some confidence going into the match,” Mulligan said. The first period of the championship match left the board scoreless, but Mulligan chose bottom for the second. He quickly escaped before getting a takedown to get up 3-0. He stayed on top for the rest of the period, and Fundy had choice for the third. He picked neutral in an attempt to close the gap, but Mulligan got a takedown and a technical point due to Fundy’s inactivity. For the final forty seconds of the match, his 6-0 lead stayed intact as Cody forced the kid down, resulting in one of the most dominant victories in the tournament finals.

“Cody will just work everyday. Winning the state title for Cody is not the end. It’s about the work,” head coach and Cody’s dad Jim Mulligan said. Cody’s goal is to get back into the wrestling room and improve so that he can defend his state title next year.

“I just want to say thanks. It means a lot coming back here and seeing all the people. I just couldn’t do it without them, my family, everybody else. It means a lot.” Cody Mulligan said. For video coverage of the homecoming, visit thepantherpress.com.

Wrestlers look for a sweet victory at Team States

By Payton Brooks, social media editor

The Panther wrestling team has had an incredible season, but it’s not over yet. They are now seeking gold at the Team State Championship in Hershey, Pa.

They qualified to go to Team States at the District Duals tournament on Feb. 4. At the Duals, they won 45-21 against Titusville in the first round, lost 53-13 against Reynolds, and then beat Fort Lebeouf 32-25. The team earned third place, so they had to travel to Moshannon Valley on Monday, Feb. 6 to see who would get to make the leap to Hershey. The Panthers did it again with a 37-21 victory.

“I think we’re going to do well, and I think we’re going to put forth our best efforts,” freshman starter Matt Posego said.

The first match the Panther’s have is at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 against Bishop McDevitt. You can follow all the action on Twitter @PantherPressSHS.