HERSHEY – It was a sweet three-peat for Bethlehem Catholic Saturday afternoon.
The Golden Hawks cruised to their third consecutive title at the PIAA Class AA team wrestling championships, pinning a 43-16 setback on Reynolds at the Giant Center.
“Friday was my (18th) birthday, so this is a good present,” said defending PIAA champ Darian Cruz, who recorded one of four falls for District 11 power Bethlehem Catholic at 120 pounds.
Luke Karam (106), Zeke Moisey (126) and Ryan Todora (132) also registered pins for the Hawks (17-0), who overpowered the competition in four PIAA matches by capturing 44 of their 56 bouts.
“It’s just so exciting to win a team championship again,” Cruz said. “But this time, it’s a little different. I’m a little sad, because I am a senior and I’m not going to be here next year.
“It’s been great to watch this team grow. I was here as a freshman, when we didn’t even qualify for the team championships, and now we have won it three times in a row, and it’s a great feeling.
“This team is good and it’s young. They’re not done yet.”
Cruz improved to 36-1 on the season and 143-8 in his career. He, along with his teammates, will return to the Giant Center the second week of March for the individual tournament. Cruz won at 106 a year ago.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I love competition. I’m around it all the time. I may have a target on my back, but I am excited.”
Bethlehem Catholic has compiled a 45-2 dual-meet record the past three years. The Hawks’ last loss was a 35-22 setback to Class AAA Easton on Feb. 16, 2011.
They have reeled off 32 consecutive wins since then.
“Each championship is special,” Bethlehem Catholic coach Jeff Karam said. “I made a point of it after the first state team championship of putting a big picture of that team on the wall and the kids have to walk past it every time they walk through the door and into the wrestling room.
“Every team is special that we coach. The past three years, we’ve gotten a new group of seniors, looked for leadership from them and then set our goals. And that plan has worked out well for us.”
In the third-place match, Fort LeBoeuf defeated Chestnut Ridge, 38-19.
PIAA CLASS AA TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
Bethlehem Catholic 43, Reynolds 16
106: Luke Karam, BC, pinned Seth Hogue, 3:33.
113: Mike Bartolo, R, dec. Stephen Maloney, 9-5.
120: Darian Cruz, BC, pinned Nick Nottingham, 3:47.
126: Zeke Moisey, BC, pinned Mason McCollum, 3:00.
132: Mason Angstadt, BC, dec. Matt Leise, 4-2.
138: Ryan Todora, BC, pinned Neal Engstrom, 3:20.
145: Levi Stoyer, R, Adam Soldridge, 1-0.
152: Austin Matthews, R, pinned Mark Maloney, 1:22.
160: Connor Hedash, BC, major dec. Curtis Arnold, 18-6.
170: Nick Cortopassi, BC, dec. Mike Millero, 1-0.
182: Jose Ortiz, BC, dec. Austin Moffett, 8-4.
195: Josh Alpha, BC, dec. Jamar Henry, 2-1.
220: Logan Rickert, R, major dec. Ryan Johnson, 13-4.
285: Andrew Dunn, BC, dec. Gene Ringer, 3-1.