HERSHEY — Jacob Nickelson came out of the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships as the lone placewinner from Somerset County.
The Somerset Area High School senior placed eighth at 195 pounds after losing a hard-fought 5-4, overtime (tiebreaker) decision to Muncy senior Skylar Ebner on Saturday at the Giant Center.
The top-eight finish earned Nickelson a state medal. He became the first Somerset wrestler to place at the PIAA tournament since Mike Geary and Josh Perrin each took sixth in 1989 and 1999, respectively, when the Golden Eagles competed at the Class AAA level.
“It’s the biggest accomplishment of my life so far,” Nickelson said. “I’m pretty disappointed that I lost (to Ebner) and got eighth. I should have won. But, overall, I’m happy.”
Added Somerset coach Brian Barron: “He came down here with a goal. He wrestled well. You can’t ask for much more. He made the podium. It’s a wonderful accomplishment.”
Nickelson had two wins and three losses in his first state tournament appearance. He finished the season with a record of 31-7 while battling a shoulder injury for the last several weeks.
“It was my first time making it to states and the first time I won a match at regionals,” Nickelson said. “It’s a big improvement from the last two years. I’m happy about it.”
Bedford’s Ryan Easter represented District 5 in the finals at 120 pounds but had to settle for second after losing 16-4 to returning state champion Darian Cruz of Bethlehem Catholic.
Other placewinners from District 5 were Chestnut Ridge’s Tyler Dibert (7th at 170) and Austin Buttry (5th at 285) and Tussey Mountain’s Mitchell Hall (7th at 285).
Forest Hills senior Cody Law was the only area wrestler to win a state title. He captured the 160-pound AA championship with a 5-3 decision over Kane junior Evan Delong in the finals.