HERSHEY - There's no easy exit in the second consolation round of the PIAA wrestling championships.
There's no harder way to leave the floor at Giant Center than the way Sean Heggs did Friday.
Heggs, fourth in the state at 138 pounds a year ago and one win away from a guaranteed medal again this year, suffered a freak injury in his second match of the day in the Class AA tournament, and walked into the arena's Zamboni tunnel without finishing the bout.
Sentinel photo by JEFF?FISHBEIN
Juniata’s Sean Heggs, right, tries to score against Sharon’s Michael Bonner in a PIAA Class AA wrestling quarterfinal at the Giant Center Friday in the 138-pound weight class.
It was not the way any wrestler expects to end his career.
Leading 2-0, Heggs used a Granby roll to keep control over Tri-Valley's Hunter Harner, and in the process jammed his neck against the mat. He stopped immediately.
"The side of his head was tired and numb. He couldn't move his neck at all," Juniata coach Mike Robinson explained. "It's an unfortunate circumstance."
After most of his injury time ticked away, Heggs was able to restart, and make it into the second period, logging an escape to go ahead 3-0. That was the final point scored in the match - when he had to stop again, his time ticked into an injury default.
"Everybody here comes to wrestle and they want to go home with a medal. It was just unfortunate that it happened," Robinson said. "With an injury like that, you never know - it can happen anytime. This is one where he couldn't even turn his head at all. You always want to err on caution.
"Unfortunately it happened in this round, before it put him into the medals."
Earlier in the day, Heggs missed his first chance to clinch a medal spot, and to return to the semifinals. Sharon's Michael Bonner took advantage of an opportunity, putting Heggs on his back briefly in the third period of the quarterfinals. That proved to be the difference in an 8-6 outcome.
"We all know that Sean is tough mentally and physically," Robinson said. "The bad thing about it down here in ... the quarters, or any round, you can't let up. You've got to continue and stay on the offense.
"I think (Heggs) got a little bit of a lead and it ended up catching up with us when he tried to sit on it."
Midd-West's Zach Heeter, the other local entrant in the Class AA tournament, also bowed out in the morning session Friday. It wasn't so much the quarterfinals, where Heeter faced Pen Argyl's Michael Racciato for a 7-0 loss, that was the problem - it was a late reversal in the consy match against Brookville's Zach Vroman.
"We thought we'd win that match and go into the medal round. It was a tough match," Mustang coach Clint Swartz said.
Vroman tended to play defense, and was able to keep the score low through two periods. Vroman escaped after starting down in the second, then Heeter scored a reversal from the bottom in the third.
Despite Vroman making almost no effort to do anything but ride in the third, Heeter was hit with a warning shortly after taking control. Vroman turned it back with three seconds left on the clock to eliminate the Snyder County senior with a 3-2 decision.
"I don't think (the stall call) affected him at all," Swartz said. "It kind of seemed to be that way for us this weekend - 15 shots, then their kid takes two shots against us and we get a stall call. You just have to try to ride there and don't get reversed."
Heeter seemed to wrestle more like his opponent in both matches - he was aggressive in the quarters.
"He went after Racciatio there," Swartz agreed. "I don't know if he was a little hesitant in this match just trying to get through. He seemed a little hesitant."
Heeter was looking to be the first medalist from his school in four seasons. This will be the first time in more than four years that Juniata has not had a medalist.