WILKES-BARRE — The career stats aren’t even in the same ballpark. The stats for the current campaign couldn’t even be compared.
Coming back off multiple injuries, didn’t do Chris Starinsky any favors either.
“Just a roller coaster career,” the Pittston Area senior said. “It’s a struggle, but every time you come back from an injury it’s worth it.”
It was certainly worth it on Friday night at the District 2 Class 3A Tournament as the Patriot stunned the crowd at the Kingston Armory knocking off the top seed in the 138-pound bracket, Tunkhannock’s Jake Richards — in the first round. The top seed losing in the preliminary round doesn’t happen often, but it did on Friday.
“Just to overcome that (the injuries) it feels pretty good,” he said.
Starinsky, who has missed time all throughout his career with injuries to only account for less than 50 career wins, led Richards — who has 110 career wins and 34 this season — by two points in the third period before Richards got a takedown with 12 seconds to tie the score at 4-4 and force overtime. Still, Starinsky had something else going for him, he pinned Richards in a dual last season.
“Every match I’m going in with a fresh mindset, anything can happen,” Starinsky said. “He got his 100 wins, hats off to him. I have a lot of respect for him.”
In overtime, Starinsky wasn’t going to be stopped. He picked up a takedown with 8 seconds left in the extra session to pick up the win, 6-4 and advance to the quarterfinals.
“Just a feeling like you can’t imagine,” he said.
Later in the night, Starinsky pinned Wyoming Valley West’s Landon Stanislow, the bracket’s No. 8 seed, in 1:23 to reach Saturday’s semifinals, which will start at 10 a.m. Starinsky will next face No. 4 seed Shawn Jones from Delaware Valley in the semis.
Richards’ loss wasn’t too detrimental to the team as the Tigers advanced nine to the semis, but they find themselves in the rare position of second place trailing frontrunner Scranton 101.5-91. The Knights also have nine in the semis.
For Tunkhannock, David Gavek (106 pounds), Josh Beeman (113), Tommy Traver (126), Dakota Quick (132), Bill Manley (145), Mike Manley (152), Dalton Ray (160), Sam Rice (195) and Ricky Stevens (220) are all in the semis.
“I think we have to wrestle better and more aggressive. We’re flat. We’re not attacking,” Tunkhannock coach Bob Hegedty said when asked what his team has to do to win its first district team title since 1985. “No excuses really, we just need to wrestle better.”
Starinsky’s upset was the biggest of the tournament, but it wasn’t the only one for Wyoming Valley Conference wrestlers. Wyoming Valley West’s T.J. Pashinski knocked the No. 4 seed of the 170-pound bracket to reach Saturday’s semifinals. The senior wrestled just one match on Friday night, but he won by fall in 4:50 over Wallenpaupack freshman Tyler Neglia.
Pashinski had never reached the district semis before or even took home a medal, he finds himself needing just one more win to grab a medal and to advance to the Northeast Regional Tournament for the first time.
“I was hoping for the pin. I had to work him a little and then the third period came around and I just stuck him,” Pashinski said. “It would be nice to just keep the season going and stay on the mat as long as I can.”
Hazleton Area is in third place in the standings with 75 points and six in the semis consisting of Jake Maurer (106), Chris Lasecki (126), Anthony Martoccio (132), Jimmy Hofman (138), Keith Lowery (145) and Carson Kinney (195). Delaware Valley is in fourth place with 71 points and seven in the semis, while West Scranton rounds out the top five with 63 points.
Reach Dave Rosengrant at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @tldrosengrant