Dover's Mason Leiphart 'let it fly,' has no regrets after finishing 2nd in PIAA wrestling

Dover's Mason Leiphart and Gettysburg's Gabriel Pecaitis wrestle in the 120-pound weight class during round one of PIAA Class 3-A Wrestling Championships at Giant Center in Hershey, Thursday, March 10, 2022. Leiphart would win by major decision 14-1. Dawn J. Sagert photo

HERSHEY – During his remarkable wrestling career at Dover High School, Mason Leiphart won his fair share of medals.

Four sectional golds.

Three District 3 Class 3-A silvers.

One District 3 3-A gold.

And one PIAA Class 3-A bronze.

Leiphart had his eyes set on adding one more medal to his collection heading into the PIAA Class 3-A Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey over this past weekend — state gold.

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Coming off his first District 3 title just a couple weeks ago, the Dover senior won his two matches at 120 pounds — defeating Gettysburg’s Gabe Pecaitis (14-1) on Thursday and Penn Trafford’s Troy Hohman (6-2) on Friday — to advance to the semifinals at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Leiphart accomplished his goal of competing for a state gold medal with a 5-2 decision over Canon-McMillan’s Jacob Houpt in the semifinals.

All that stood between Leiphart and the coveted state gold medal was Greater Latrobe’s Vinny Kilkeary, a PIAA champion two years ago as a freshman.

Dover's Mason Leiphart is congratulated after his win over Gettysburg's Gabe Pecaitis on Thursday.

Going out with the mindset to not be too timid against an aggressive wrestler such as Kilkeary, Leiphart had a goal of scoring first. He almost did that with a near takedown in the first 30 seconds of the bout. After the Greater Latrobe junior secured a takedown with 20 seconds left in the first period, Leiphart was forced to play catch-up.

That’s not a place that Leiphart found himself in all year. While he attempted to turn things around, Kilkeary had all the right responses, sending Leiphart home with a 12-3 setback on Saturday night.

That ended Leiphart’s season at 39-1 overall and ended his career at 132-12. He is Dover’s all-time winningest wrestler.

The Franklin & Marshall recruit still had his sense of humor intact after claiming a 3-A state silver medal.

Mason Leiphart

“With so many (silvers), it’s beginning to grow on me,” Leiphart joked.

Reflecting on his bout with Kilkeary, Leiphart was filled with anything but regret. He competed aggressively but came up against an opponent that executed just a little better.

“Maybe just move side to side a little more,” Leiphart said in reference to anything he would have done differently. “But I let it fly. My dad (Chad) was happy that I let it all hang out and I did everything I wanted to do out there. I didn’t want to leave anything out there.”

Despite the disappointment of falling short of becoming Dover’s first PIAA champion since Shaun Smith in 1983, Leiphart is nothing less than satisfied about a season that saw him claim his fist District 3 3-A gold after finishing runner-up the previous three years.

“The whole season was great for me,” he said. “I can’t think of really any negatives. I guess the ending wasn’t superb, but other than that there were a lot of fun moments. Winning the Trojan Wars (at Chambersburg) was good, especially for our team. We had a few guys win some matches and compete, which was great. Cumberland Valley and getting the ‘W’ there was pretty neat. The season as a whole was just pretty cool.”

Gettysburg's Samuel Rodriguez and Council Rock North's Aden Roe wrestle in the 215-pound weight class during first round PIAA Class 3-A Wrestling Championships at Giant Center in Hershey, Thursday, March 10, 2022. Rodriguez would win by major decision 14-6. by decision. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Gettysburg standouts earn medals: Two other York-Adams wrestlers – both seniors from Gettysburg – also captured 3-A state medals.

Sam Rodriguez finished seventh at 215 pounds, while his teammate, Trevor Gallagher, took eighth at 285. Rodriguez finished at 39-4, while Gallagher finished at 41-8.

Rodriguez won his seventh-place match over McCaskey’s Jose Garcia, 12-3.

Gallagher lost his seventh-place match by pin to Noah Tustin of Waynesburg.

Other local state qualifiers: The other York-Adams 3-A state qualifiers fell short of medal finishes. They were:

Gettysburg sophomore Gabe Pecaitis, who went 1-2 at 120 to finish at 36-11.

Dallastown senior Zach Luckenbaugh, who went 1-2 at 126 to finish at 35-10.

Spring Grove senior Ivan Vega, who went 0-2 at 132 to finish at 27-5.

Central York sophomore Carter Davis, who went 1-2 at 138 to finish at 35-8.

Dallastown senior Caden Dobbins, who went 1-2 at 152 to finish at 38-4.

Central York junior Macon Myers, who went 2-2 at 160 to finish at 29-9.

Gettysburg senior Jacob Cherry, who went 0-2 at 160 to finish at 40-9.

Central York senior Ethan Miller, who went 1-2 at 285 to finish at 35-10.

In 2-A, Littlestown sophomore Cameron Mingee went 1-2 at 126 to finish at 33-11.

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