By Scott Shindledecker
HERSHEY, Pa. — Punxsutawney senior Kaleb Young has reached new heights in the Chucks wrestling program and Saturday night at Hershey’s Giant Center, he made it to the top of the mountain when he decisioned Mifflin County sophomore Trent Hidlay, 5-3, for a state AAA championship at 160 pounds.
“It’s a dream I’ve had since I don’t know, forever and it feels great,” Young said. “I’ve always looked at Pennsylvania state champs as, not like God, but the next best thing.”
Young expected a fight from Hidlay, who lost a 2-1 decision to the Chuck at the Northwest Regional Tournament in Altoona. Hidlay, just a sophomore, already had 73 wins to his credit before Saturday night’s match.
And he got one as Hidlay scored a takedown with 40 seconds left in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. But Young wasn’t fazed as he came back to tie it at 2-2 with 23 seconds left.
In the second period, Hidlay went back in front with an escape at the 1:11 mark, but Young got the biggest takedown with 17 seconds left to take a 4-3 lead to the third. There, his escape seven seconds in made it 5-3, and Young was soon celebrating his title with his dad, assistant coach Buddy, and head coach Eric Eddy.
Young, headed to the University of Iowa in the fall, is the best wrestler to come out of Punxsy. With the win, he improved his career mark to 116-8. He is a four-time PIAA qualifier and three-time medalist. Young was fifth in 2014 and fourth in 2015.
While older brother Kody still owns the all-time wins record, 143, at Punxsy, he would love to have what his younger brother has. Kody was a four-time District 9 champ and a two-time state qualifier but he never won a state medal.
“I had a lot to live up to with my brother going first. He set a great example for me and he was definitely a motivator for me and he helped me keep my mind right,” Young said.
Young has made things look remarkably easy in the 160-pound bracket.
Young had two pins Thursday and Friday on his way to Saturday morning’s 160-pound semifinals and while he didn’t get a fall against Abington Heights senior Nick Carr (37-3), he still scored a major decision, 16-4, to remain unbeaten and get his spot in the finals in Hershey’s Giant Center.
Young spent a little more than three minutes on the mat in his first two matches.
Thursday, Young won his first-round match with a pin in 1:39 over Bangor’s Jesse Rocco. Friday afternoon Young faced Pennridge sophomore Josh Stillings (41-8) in the quarterfinals and he made quick work of the Southeast Regional champion, pinning him in 1:24.
Carr (37-3) was second in the Northeast Regional. Carr opened with a 3-2 win over Cumberland Valley sophomore Quentin Miliken Thursday, then won a 9-4 decision over Hempfield senior Tyler Reber in the quarters.
But Saturday morning, Young dominated him, leading 6-2 after one period and 13-4 after two. Young nearly pinned Carr in the third period, but settled for the major decision.
Young scored his first takedown barely 20 seconds into the match. He let Carr up, then took him down with 40 seconds left. After letting him up again, Young got another takedown with 12 seconds left to make it 6-2.
In the second, Young surrendered a pair of escapes while garnering three takedowns and one escape to make it 13-4. In the third, the Chuck got three nearfall points and cruised to the win.