INDIANA – No one wanted it to end this way but it did.

Just 46 seconds into the first period of their wrestling match, Chris Vargo shot in on a double-leg attempt and Vargo’s shoulder caught the left knee of Damon Michaels of Elizabeth Forward.

Michaels fell to the mat in excruciating pain and, once the two-minute injury time expired, Vargo, a freshman from Bentworth, was declared winner by default Saturday in the 113-pound consolation semifinals of the Supper Regional at Indiana University.

Vargo was one of three area wrestlers to advance to the PIAA Championships next week in the Giant Center. Kyle McCollum of Beth-Center qualified in the 132-pound weight class and Ethan Barr of McGuffey made it at 172 pounds.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class advanced to the PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Vargo, who suffered his first loss of the season in the semifinals, was visibly upset with the injury to Michaels, his friend.

He walked over to the family surrounding Edwards and exchanged words with them while his friend, Michaels, was sitting there in pain. Michaels was taken out of the Kovalchick Center in a wheelchair and went to a nearby hospital.

Vargo was too upset to comment on the situation.

“They are friends and they know how hard each other works,” said Bentworth head coach Mike Shrader. “You don’t want to win that way. He just tried to shoot in a double and the knee twisted on him. He was apologetic that (Damon) got hurt.”

Vargo went on to finish in third place with a 6-1 decision over Justin O’Neill of Hickory in the consolation finals. Vargo saw his unbeaten record dissolve in a 5-1 loss to Coen Beatty of Bald Eagle Area in the semifinals.

“He faced some adversity and came back,” said Shrader. “He finished third so he doesn’t have to face the Eastern champion.”

McCollum finished in fourth place at 132 pounds. The junior was knocked into the consolation round by a pin from Jackson Arrington in the semifinals.

McCollum punched his ticket to Hershey with a 3-1 overtime decision to Jamis Poklembo of Mount Pleasant in the consolation semifinals. He finished fourth after a 13-0 loss to Zach Witmer of St. Joseph Catholic.

“I wrestled four times against him and I’m 3-1,” said McCollum after his win over Poklembo. “This was the big one, for sure. This got me to Hershey. We know each other pretty well, especially since we wrestled each other four times in one season.

“Hes pretty good on bottom. He gets hand control and gets out really quick. He’s pretty good at that. On top, he throws in boots a lot.”

McCollum said the weight class was a good weight class.

“And getting to Hershey is really awesome,” McColum said.

Barr had a plan, stay at 172 pounds, where Rune Lawrence of Frazier dominated and ride his coattails to the state tournament. Mission accomplished with a 2-1 overtime decision over Gage Musser of Commodore Perry that put him in the third-place bout and a spot in the PIAA Championship next week.

Barr finished third after a pin of Tim Church of Fort Lebouef in the first period.

“I was a little nervous but I try and contain it. I try to use it to win the match,” Barr said. “My strategy worked. Every single stage, every stage.”

Barr came into the weight class as the eighth seed and was pinned by Lawrence, the brother of Thayne and who went on to win the weight class yesterday. Barr then pinned Suds Dubler of Glendale in the first round of consolations and then beat Musser in the blood round.

Barr and Musser entered this tournament nearly tied for career victories. Barr had 127 and Musser 126.

Burgettstown brought four wrestlers but all were eliminated. The fianl one, Shane Kemper, was pinned by Cole Karpinski of Greenville in 5:19. Kemper was leading 2-0 at the time.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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