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PRESS PHOTO BY BOB FORDEmmaus’ Reed Custer battles an opponent at the PIAA Wrestling Championships. PRESS PHOTO BY BOB FORDEmmaus’ Reed Custer battles an opponent at the PIAA Wrestling Championships.

Custer ends career in Hershey

Sunday, March 19, 2017 by PETER CAR pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

It wasn’t the way Reed Custer wanted his senior year to end, but that is ultimately the truth for many wrestlers when they vacate the grounds of Hershey’s Giant Center.

Custer bowed out after day one of the PIAA Class 3A wrestling tournament last Thursday night, following two straight defeats to open his first appearance at the state championships.

Custer lost his preliminary round bout to Bethel Park’s Jason Montgomery 6-3 and then couldn’t find the answer in the consolation round against East Stroudsburg South’s Tyler Delorenzo, falling by a 5-2 decision to end his Emmaus career.

Custer finished his season at 22-8, but head coach Jeff Arbushitis understood that elimination from the state tournament is always a matter of perspective.

“He had an excellent career and he got better every year,” Arbushitis said. “Unfortunately, he had that major [meniscus] injury last year that set him back and he re-injured it in the middle of this season when he was really hot.

“But it doesn’t take away from what he’s accomplished. He’s had a great time at Emmaus.”

Custer’s meeting with DeLorenzo was a rematch of their district showdown, where DeLorenzo won a 10-3 decision two weeks ago.

Getting the first takedown in the consolation round is always a crucial element to winning and DeLorenzo was the first to strike in that category, scoring a TD in the second period and paving his way to a 3-2 lead in the third period. DeLorenzo then wrestled cautiously before he tied up Custer in the final 30 seconds of the match, delaying the inevitable, before a desperation throw by Custer in the final seconds of the match guided DeLorenzo to another takedown to ice the match.

“If you don’t win the first period, then you have to win that first takedown and we didn’t win that battle,” Arbushitis said. “It wasn’t that we didn’t try or execute. DeLorenzo got the first score and he’s a pretty darn good wrestler.”

Thursday’s exit from Hershey also marked the end of the Arbushitis’ era at Emmaus. The veteran coach is stepping away after 14 years, marking last week’s appearance in Hershey his last one as a coach.

“It’s obviously not the way I would have liked to go out,” he said. “I’m just happy that we got out here. Coming into regionals with two fifth-place finishers [from districts], getting to Hershey wasn’t a guarantee. I would have liked to walk away with some hardware, but that’s how things happen here. It’s a tough tournament.”