HERSHEY, Pa. -- Matt McCutcheon had a scowl on his face as he walked off the GIANT Center floor, a scowl deeper than a wrestle who just clinched a state finals berth should have had. But that is the nature of the Kiski Area 195-pound senior, who by his own admission wasn't in top form in Saturday's morning semifinal bout, but won anyway.
McCutcheon was one of three future Penn State wrestlers to earn a bid to Saturday nights AAA finals early Saturday morning, scrapping late for a 3-1 decision over Allentown Dieruff's Jovan Reyes 3-1.
It feels good right now, but I didn't wrestle good, McCutcheon said. I have to forget it and worry about the finals now.
The senior drove through on a double-leg blast to take a 2-0 first-period lead, but played defense for much of the remaining four minutes, employing an effective yet frustrating strategy that, while not allowing any opportunities for Reyes, also didn't allow McCutcheon to get his offense going. Reyes pulled within a point with a second-period escape, only to see McCutcheon cancel it out with his own escape in the third period.
He'll meet Hampton's Jacob Hart in the finals, which start with the 106-pound weight class at 7:30 p.m. on PCN television.
Motion on my feet; I need to keep it up, McCutcheon said of what he feels he needs to improve. I'm just going to relax now, and get ready to go.
Joining him in the finals are 152-pound senior Garett Hammond, as well as 220-pound junior Thomas Haines. Both are committed to Penn State to wrestle.
Hammond opened wrestling for Penn State connections shortly after 9:30 a.m. Saturday, rolling to a 20-5 technical fall victory over Greenberg Salem's Tyler Reinhart. It leads to a rematch with Cumberland Valley and District-3 standout T.C. Warner, who Hammond beat 12-9 in last winter's 145-pound championship.
Haines also stayed true to his workmanlike approach, topping Freedom High senior Evan Kauffman 9-1 to earn a shot a defending his 2012 PIAA AAA 220-pound title.
It feels great, and I'm ready for it. I'm going to come out and fire on all cylinders, Hammond said. I don't want to hold anything back.
Haines wrestled simultaneously with future teammate McCutcheon, and scored a pair of takedowns and an escape to expand a 7-0 lead that he never relinquished. Hammond draws Boyertown's Jordan Wood, who was the top seed in the Southeastern regional.
He was trying to slow me down, and overpower me pretty much, and was trying to get me out of my element, Haines said. I switched my legs up and was able to counter that. Tonight, I need to wrestle my match and not let him get in my head, and just go out there and take it.
Another future Nittany Lion, Warwick's Tom Devenney, lost his consolation bout at 285-pounds Saturday afternoon (3-2) to Brad Emerick of James Coughlin. He'll wrestle for fifth place in that weight bracket tonight.
The AA finals action begins at 2 p.m. and will also be televised on PCN. Future Nittany Lion grappler Zain Retherford is in the 138-pound final, while Cody Law from Forest Hills is in the 160-pound final. Future football run-on Brandon Smith of Lewisburg grapples in the 220-pound final.