Fehlman earns 6th-place state medal
HERSHEY – It’s been a sweet season for Warren junior D.J. Fehlman, who continues to climb a ladder in his high school wrestling career.
Fehlman already has three District 10 titles, and advanced to states for the first time as a sophomore. This year, he brought home a state medal with a sixth-place finish at 126 pounds on Saturday at the PIAA Class AAA Championships at the Giant Center.
“I was pretty satisfied with myself, making it to Saturday (the medal rounds) is a dream come true,” said Fehlman. “Medaling down at states is something to be super proud of.”
Fehlman has already had a storied wrestling career, with a Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling state title, winning more matches (33) than any freshman in school history, and he now has 101 career wins with his senior high school season left to go.
But he doesn’t want to rest on his laurels.
“The higher you finish, the higher you want to go,” said Fehlman, who has gotten closer and closer to his goal of a state medal each year.
He went 0-2 at states last year. After a 7-4 decision on Thursday and a quarterfinals loss to the top-ranked 126-pounder in the state – the eventual state champ, Dalton Macri – Fehlman had his moment.
After Fehlman lost in a 26-11 technical fall to Macri, he found himself in a match on Friday against Souderton senior Kolton Veit that would ensure one would win a medal among the top eight in the weight class.
Tied 6-6 with 20 seconds left in the match, Fehlman took Veit down and earned an 8-7 decision to guarantee himself a state medal.
That medal would end up being a sixth-place medal, or the first state medal for Warren Area High School since Ryan Uber finished sixth in 2005, and the first WAHS underclassmen to earn a medal for 15-year head coach Glenn Baldensperger.
Fehlman won, 1-0, in triple overtime on Saturday over Council Rock South senior Dan Martoccio before losing, 5-0, to Hempfield’s Sam Krivus, and 11-3 in a major decision to Dallastown’s Rodney Sunday.
Fehlman admitted he was tired when the tournament was over.
“These kids are so tough there; there’s just no breaks, they constantly come at you,” said Fehlman. “It really opened my eyes as to the level I’m going to need to be at next year. Next year is not out of my head. I’d say if I continue on this ladder, it’s probably just where I’d want to be.”
Baldensperger said he would like D.J. to slow down and appreciate what he has just done for a while.
“I personally haven’t talked to him about next year,” said Baldensperger.
“As far as the program goes, I know I have some motivated young men who are chomping at the bit for already getting back in the (practice) room, so hopefully we can build on that,” the coach said. “To get what D.J. gets is not done from November to March – it’s all the extra things that prepare you. Something like this (having a teammate win a state medal) sort of recharges everybody’s battery a little bit.
“But it’s got to be tough when you’re the guy, going out and guaranteeing us that win every dual meet… and you go down there and everybody’s the guy,” said Baldensperger. “He’s just a competitor. Right now we might not be thinking about where we’re going to place next year, but that competitor in him, this is going to motivate him for next year. I think we’re just going to sit back and enjoy it. Last year he was happy to be down there. This year was to get a medal. I know he’s pretty sore and banged up and ready to relax a little bit, and enjoy the moment. I know he likes to be on top of that podium and I’m sure that’s what he’ll be looking for next year.”
Next year will come soon enough.
D.J.’s father, David, said, “I can’t say enough about Glenn -he’s a great role model. He sticks to, ‘you get out of it what you put into it.'”
The younger Fehlman has accomplished so much, including forging his own identity.
“D.J.’s his own guy,” said David, who won a state championship with Youngsville High School and went on to wrestle at the Division I level. “He knows the history of my wrestling, but he’s worked hard in his own way and he has his own style. I’m happy with how hard he works in football, wrestling… he always wrestles with everything he’s got, right to the end. His goal was to get a medal and he fought hard and got one.”
He’s also proud of how he represents his program and the county.
“He wants to represent the area, and he does think of that and takes pride in that for sure,” said David. “He would like nothing more than to have a couple teammates with him down there next year.”