By: Tim Birney | | March 12, 2021 | Photo courtesy Tim Birney


HERSHEY — Athens junior Gavin Bradley was unable to create the up-tempo match he wanted in his PIAA Class AA 113-pound championship bout with Wyoming Area sophomore Jaden Pepe, and dropped a 3-2 decision here Friday evening at the Giant Center.

Bradley, now a three-time PIAA medalist, finishes the season at 40-2 — both losses to Pepe — with his silver-medal performance. Pepe finishes the season at 19-1 — his only loss to Bradley.

“Gavin had a great season,” said Athens coach Shawn Bradley. “He wrestled his butt off the entire season, and he works his tail off all the time.

“He deserved to win that much, he just didn’t do quite enough to win,” noted Bradley. “This one is going to hurt him for a little bit. He can use that as a driving force next year.”

Bradley pressured Pepe the entire first period, but it was Pepe who scored a takedown on a low double-leg with 15 seconds remaining to take a 2-0 lead into the second period.

Bradley deferred, and Pepe chose bottom to start the second period, but Bradley elected to start neutral, giving Pepe a 3-0 lead.

Bradley pressed the issue for nearly the entire second period, but it was Bradley that was warned for stalling with 24 seconds remaining. The duo remained on their feet for the entire two minutes.

Bradley scored a quick escape at the outset of the third period to trim the deficit to 3-1.

After two stalemates, and four whistles for going out-of-bounds, Pepe was penalized for stalling with 17 seconds remaining to make it 3-2.

Bradley got in on a leg twice late in the match, but couldn’t finish either one off.

“(Gavin) has to have a little better mat sense,” said Shawn Bradley. “He had two shots on the edge … he just has to score there.”

Neither Bradley was pleased with the pace of the match.

“I’m not going to make excuses,” said Shawn Bradley. “(Pepe) won the match, he wrestled within the rules and won the match.

“Pulling our elbows, staying still, and doing nothing the whole match, though, it’s hard to somebody who’s not wrestling back,” he added.

“I pushed the pace the whole match,” said Gavin Bradley. “I tried my best to get to my stuff, but it didn’t turn out to be the match I wanted.

“He was always moving backward,” he added. “It’s hard to wrestle someone like that … I mean, we’re in the state finals, I think we should wrestle.”

Gavin Bradley, who finished sixth at States as a freshman and seventh last year, said he still has one more goal to accomplish, and will continue working hard.

“Knowing him, he’ll probably be at practice Monday, but I need a break,” laughed Shawn Bradley.

“I never take breaks,” said Gavin Bradley. “Sooner or later, I’m going to get what I want, and when I do, it will all be worth it.”


About the Author

Tim Birney Author Bio
Tim Birney

Tim Birney is the founder / owner of River Road Media Group. He was born and raised in the Valley, graduating from Waverly High School in 1984.

Birney earned an Associate's Degree in Journalism from SUNY Morrisville in 1986 and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism / Public Relations from Utica College of Syracuse University in 1988. He began his newspaper career at The Daily Review in Towanda in 1989, before moving on to The Evening Times in 1995. He spent more than 10 years at the Times, the last four as Managing Editor.

River Road Media Group includes Valley Sports Report (launched Aug. 10, 2009), Tioga County (NY) Sports Report (Aug. 13, 2018), and Northern Tier Sports Report (Aug. 31, 2020). Southern Tier Sports Report is set to launch in 2021.