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Warren just short of state medal

The unfortunate reality of the PIAA state wrestling tournament is that most of the participants leave dissatisfied. Despite it being a momentous achievement to even qualify for states, no wrestler is “just happy to be there.”

Whitehall senior Melquan Warren, making his second consecutive trip to Hershey, had hopes of building on his 2022 experience and bringing home the first medal for the Zephyrs since Taray Carey in 2010. Warren did pick up a win in his opening round, but it was under unfulfilling circumstances.

Late in the first period of his bout with Tucker Teats of Selinsgrove, the two wrestlers heads collided, sending the Seal to the edge of the mat with blood pouring from his nose. The referee’s sign for blood time in wrestling is a finger to the side of the nose and it’s a common sight at any wrestling tournament. Usually, the trainer will stuff some absorptive material up the nostril and if it’s bad, tape it in place.

This was not one of those nosebleeds.

Teats’ nose was broken and despite the best efforts of three trainers to stanch the flow, he had to injury default. Warren was pragmatic about advancing under those circumstances, “I didn’t want the match to end like that, but looking at the score being 5-1 down going to the second period, I got pretty lucky. We don’t know how the match would have gone from there (Warren has shown a knack for the big comeback), but I was down 5-1. I feel bad for the kid. It was an accident, but when you wrestle, stuff like that happens.”

His quarterfinal match was against Tucker Hogan of Daniel Boone, the undefeated top overall seed at 189. Hogan beat Warren by a 15-0 technical fall in the second period and went on to become the Blazers’ first-ever state champion.

In the blood round (winner gets a medal, loser is eliminated) of consolations, Warren met Caleb Marzolino of Abington Heights. Marzolino had finished fourth in the Northeast Regional the week before.

The Comet used a pair of takedowns to go out to a 4-2 lead to start the third period. He escaped from the down position to make it 5-2. Warren converted on a single leg to make the score 5-4 with 58 seconds left, but after cutting his opponent loose, Marzolino was able to secure an insurance takedown and advance.

Warren, who finished his Whitehall career with an 81-37 record, summed up his season’s experience.

“I was proud of getting here, especially this year with all of the injuries that I’ve had. I felt I had a chip on my shoulder and I wanted to do more here. I know my family and everybody at school is proud of me. My goal was to get back here and I did, but I really didn’t get what I wanted at the end of the day.”

Head coach Tim Cunningham gave his closing thoughts.

“He’s meant a lot to the program. Hopefully, we get a lot of guys with the same work ethic as Mel. He’s a quiet leader. He’s very disappointed now, but we tell them all the time, it’s not the most important thing in the world. It’s what you learn from these experiences to become a better person that matters.”