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There have been a handful of local wrestlers recently who medaled in Hershey as juniors only to not repeat the accomplishment in their senior campaigns.

So, for Unionville?s Mason Popham (135), who placed seventh in the Class AAA state tournament as a junior and had already committed to the University of Virginia, the excuses of a letdown could have come easily.

Instead, Popham found excuses to get motivated. When a set of rankings came out in the preseason, Popham found himself behind La Salle?s Matt Cimato, a junior Popham had beaten a winter before in the Southeast Regional final. And as the District 1 rankings evolved as the season aged, Popham wound up behind Council Rock South?s Matt Rappo and Quakertown?s Scott Wolfinger.

With gifted athletes, sometimes it takes perceived slights to stoke the competitive fire. For the Unionville senior, getting hot came at just the right time.

?I knew I was capable of doing really well,? Popham said. ?I saw the rankings with Rappo and Wolfinger ahead of me, and I guess there was a decent reason on paper, but I knew I could compete with those guys. When I ended up beating Rappo, it was like sticking it to those people who slighted me and didn?t give me as much credit. After it all unfolded, I proved to them that I was one of the top contenders in the state. I used it more as motivation than anything.?

Popham became the fifth area wrestler in the past three seasons to finish in the top three in the state, and used an almost flawless Saturday to sweep through the 135-pound consolation bracket and finish third. His win over Rappo in his final match was the icing on the cake, as each victory appeared more dominant and impressive.

For his efforts, Popham is the Daily Local News Wrestler of the Year.

For Complete Article by Nate Heckenberger, Daily Local News Special