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Catty wrestling continues to build

Gavin Fehr wasn’t the only Rough Rider wrestler to make the Hershey this year.

A pair of juniors, Mikhail Hartranft (121) and Chad Beller (215), made it through the tough Southeast regional (4 of the top 6 schools in the team standings came from the SE) to claim a spot on the biggest stage.

After finishing with middling records in 2022 (20-18 and 16-14 respectively), their presence was unexpected.

Head coach Joe Russo spoke about their development.

“Your mindset is as important as anything else in wrestling. Those kids came this year and decided that they were going to be as good as they could be at this point. Beller last year, he was not real into it. There were a couple of times where he had injuries and we sat him out. Mikhail was out there with a .500 record and he would lose matches we thought he could win.”

Russo continued.

“They changed their mindset. They changed their work ethic. They put a lot together. To get from where they were to here… They didn’t get out of districts (last year) and here they are at states,” he said, “that’s a hell of a leap for those two guys. I’m really proud of them, too.”

Hartranft was pinned in his first round match with the score at 0-0 in the second period after choosing the down position. A first period fall in consolations ended his tournament.

Beller scored the first takedown in his opening round match against Dylan Pitzer of Mount Pleasant, but lost by decision 6-2.

In his consolation match, he again scored the first takedown, but a pair of reversals by his opponent, Dante Burns of Conwell-Egan were decisive as Beller fell 8-6.

He described his growth over the course of the season.

“This year gave me a lot of confidence especially at the end. I started shooting more shots more confidently, finishing shots much better. In the beginning of the season I didn’t think I was going to make it to states. I didn’t place at districts last year. It was a goal of mine, but I didn’t know if I’d reach it. I just kept working hard.”

With three state qualifiers in one year, the most for Catty since 1992, Russo has the program headed in the right direction.

He explained.

“I feel that we’ve tried to do our best to build this program up. I feel like we have,” he said. “People in the community love this. People are texting me when the matches are over. It’s been an amazing ride to see how much people have cared about it. And the story’s not done being written.”