Tuesday, March 24, 2015

NHSCA Championships

   The National High School Coaches Association Wrestling Championships are this weekend in Virginia Beach. Here are entries from District 5, according to the NHSCA website.

Freshman Nationals
120 - Liam Flaherty, Everett
126 - Austin Lee, Berlin
126 - Justin McCoy, Chestnut Ridge

Junior Nationals
106 - Aaron Burkett, Chestnut Ridge
132 - Joe Swank, Berlin
170 - Storm McDonald, Berlin

Senior Nationals
170 - Taylor Cahill, Berlin

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Jonathan Gabriel - State Champion

Opening whistle.

Tight ride late in second period.

The winning move: Gabriel's "funky peterson."

And another view.

Celebration all around.

After 51 years, Bedford crowns a state champion.

Friday, March 6, 2015

State Wrestling Friday Scenes and Notes

   Some local news and notes from Friday at the Class AA state tournament:

- Chestnut Ridge's Aaron Burkett is the third-ever state finalist from his school. The others were Gary Pfahler (champion) in 2008 and Josh McDannell (runner-up) in 2009.

- Bedford's Jonathan Gabriel is his school's first two-time state finalist since 1964. That was also the last year the Bison program won a title, with Ron Hamilton doing the honors. He and John Heacock are Bedford's only state champions in history.

- Chestnut Ridge's four medalists (Burkett, Justin McCoy, Trent Crouse, and Conner Buttry) make this season's Lions the only Bedford County team in history to earn four indivdual state medals in a single PIAA tournament.

Scenes from the Day

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Class AA Quarterfinal breakdown

   Here's a look at a few of the top quarterfinal round matchups of the PIAA Class AA Tournament on Friday morning. Updated brackets can be found at this link - PIAA Brackets

106 Pounds
Kevan Gentile, Jim Thorpe vs. Aaron Burkett, Chestnut Ridge
   The Skinny: On paper, Burkett probably has the best chance of any of the four Chestnut Ridge quarterfinalists to eventually reach the finals. But the Lion junior, a sixth place medalist last year, will first have to get past the unbeaten Gentile. The Jim Thorpe wrestler won the Southeast Regional and had a second period pin to open the state tournament earlier today, while Burkett rung up a major decision.

113 Pounds
Joe Lobeck, Lancaster Catholic vs. Nolan Link, Penn Cambria
   The Skinny: These two met last year in the first round at 106, when Lobeck earned a 2-1 win. In today's opening matchups, Lobeck won by fall and Link picked up a 5-0 decision.

120 Pounds
Cole Matthews, Reynolds vs. Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon
   The Skinny: Each of these wrestlers had a harder than believed to be first round bout on Thursday. Matthews pulled out a 6-4 win, while Glorioso survived a 9-7 decision. Matthews is one of the top freshmen in the state, while Glorioso has placed here twice.

126 Pounds
Sammy Hepler, Tri-Valley vs. Jonathan Gabriel, Bedford
   The Skinny: This will be a rematch of the Thomas Subaru Tournament final, where Gabriel claimed a 7-5 decision to win his third title in his home event. On Thursday, Gabriel was pushed by Brookville's Cole Aaron, as the bout was decided on a reversal and two-point nearfall, both for the Bison junior during the 30-second pair of tiebreaker periods.

160 Pounds
John Vaughn, Boiling Springs vs. Cody Mulligan, Saegertown
   The Skinny: A senior against a freshman here. In my picks for the Bedford Gazette, I went with the impressive Mulligan. Vaughn was tested by another freshman, Westmont's Anthony Walters, in a 3-2 decision in the opener, while Mulligan rolled to a technical fall victory.

Thursday scenes at PIAA Wrestling Championships

Photos by Ryan Spring

   Bedford's Jonathan Gabriel, top, Chestnut Ridge's Aaron Burkett, middle, and Chestnut Ridge's Derrick Claar compete on Thursday in the opening rounds of the PIAA Class AA wrestling tournament. On the right is District 5 official Mike Eichelberger, who was handling Class AAA action today.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Class AA State Bracket Analysis

   It's the final week of the high school wrestling season, as everything commences on Thursday morning for the Class AA state tournament in Hershey. Eight of my local wrestlers qualified through the Southwest Regional.
   The brackets can be found at this link - Class AA Brackets
   I have provided some bracket analysis below. Also, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the Bedford Gazette each day this week for features, previews and predictions. Of course, I also plan on having some extra things on this blog as the tournament goes on, along with full coverage in the Gazette's print edition during the event.

Class AA Bracket Analysis
106 Pounds
   Jefferson-Morgan's Gavin Teasdale and Chestnut Ridge's Aaron Burkett have been ranked first and second in the state for pretty much all of this season. They met for the second time in the Southwest Regional final, with Teasdale taking a 3-0 win after beating Burkett in overtime at the Thomas Subaru Tournament in late January. Teasdale's path in the top half of the bracket shows perhaps Brookville's Gavin Park and Boiling Springs' Jalin Hankerson as his toughest potential opponents leading to the final.
   Burkett's in the bottom half and drew Harborcreek's Sam Sallot in the opening round. Win that and it's a likely quarterfinal with unbeaten Kevan Gentile of Jim Thorpe. Gentile has been ranked in the top five for awhile but he seems a bit of an unknown. The little bit I've read on the junior is that he's having a breakout year after battling injuries in the past. Also down below is Benton's Alan Diltz. Two years ago at state duals, Burkett pinned Diltz. Of course, that's quite a long time ago and Diltz appears to have greatly improved since.

113 Pounds
   This is one of the more interesting weights in my opinion. I could see any one of six wrestlers win the title. On the top half is Central Cambria's Max Murin, Muncy's Angelo Barberio, and Jamestown's Farris Messai, while Lancaster Catholic's Joe Lobeck, Penn Cambria's Nolan Link, Reynolds' Gage Bayless, Brockway's Ryan Carlson, and Line Mountain's Cameron Newman down below. If you're looking ahead to quarterfinals, Lobeck beat Link in a close first-rounder at 106 last year. One of the great stories to come out of regionals for me was Everett freshman Liam Flaherty, who finished fifth to earn a ticket to the Giant Center. Flaherty, who attends school at Southern Fulton but wrestles at Everett in a co-op, drew Southern Columbia's Shane Casey in one of the new pigtail bouts for this season. The winner gets Lobeck.

120 Pounds
   The four region champions here are the likely top contenders to win it all, but it is a fairly deep weight  class. Brookville's Taylor Ortz, Athens' Brian Courtney, Bishop McDevitt's John Pipa, and Huntingdon's Collin Glorioso will all face pigtail round winners. Darkhorses here could include Jefferson-Morgan's Brendan Howard, Tri-Valley's Caleb Bordner, and Reynolds' Cole Matthews. Howard and Bordner will meet on Thursday. Chestnut Ridge's Justin McCoy drew Trinity's Andrew Wert, with the winner likely seeing Ortz in the quarterfinals.

126 Pounds
   The top half of this bracket is a beast, with Forest Hills' Triston Law, Reynolds' Seth Hogue, and Boiling Springs' Grant Bond there among others. Hogue and Bond could meet in a quarterfinal. At the state duals, Hogue beat Bond, who appears healthy after missing a good bit of the regular season. Bedford's Jonathan Gabriel, who lost to Law on Saturday night, gets Brookville's Cole Aaron in the first round in the bottom half of the draw. Win there and the state runner-up at 113 last year should see Tri-Valley's Sammy Hepler, who defeated Bond in the Southeast Regional final. Gabriel earned a close victory over Hepler to win his third Thomas Subaru championship earlier this season.

132 Pounds
   Defending state champion Korbin Myers would be a solid bet to come out of the top half here as the bottom side looks to be a tougher choice. Those attempting to knock off the Boiling Springs' senior would be Derry's George Phillippi, a former state champ, Schuylkill Valley's Josh Giorgio, Reynolds' Mike Bartolo, and Warrior Run's Zack Lebarron. Giorgio was a state finalist last year at 126, while Lebarron is still unbeaten.

138 Pounds
   Another Boiling Springs ace, Kyle Shoop, is one of the favorites in this weight. His path to the finals probably sees a potential roadblock in Saegertown's Tyler Vath. Down below, we have South Fayette's unbeaten Mike Carr and Wyalusing's Collin Edsell. Locally, Chestnut Ridge's Derrick Claar has a pigtail bout with Smethport's Adam Shunk. The winner of that one orders up a tall task in the tiltmaster Shoop.

145 Pounds
   The top half of this bracket looks pretty wide open to me, and I could definitely see Ligonier Valley's Robby Patrick in the state finals as a freshman. The bottom is tougher on paper, with Southern Columbia's Kent Lane, a finalist last year, Saegertown's Nick Monico, and Biglerville's Nate Newberry among the contenders.

152 Pounds
   In no particular order, Southern Columbia's Billy Barnes, Brookville's Jimmy Miller, and Huntingdon's Jacob Oliver are the top half's best bets, but don't be surprised if Chestnut Ridge's Trent Crouse or Annville-Cleona's Jeff Inman make some noise. Crouse took Oliver to the limit in a 9-8 regional semifinal loss. The Lion senior seems to have drawn a favorable first round date with Tri-Valley's Anthony Snyder, before probably seeing Miller next. Crouse and Miller did not meet in the Ultimate Duals. Down below, South Park's Jake Wentzel and Pius X's Michael Comunale appear headed for a semifinal showdown. On a side note, Pius X is closing its doors after this school year, so maybe Comunale has a little extra motivation to send his school out with a champion.

160 Pounds
   This bracket is a minefield. I do think Berlin's Bryce Fochtman put himself in a good spot by winning the Southwest Regional. Slotted at the very bottom of the draw, Fochtman could see the semifinals where probably either John Vaughn of Boiling Springs or Cody Mulligan of Saegertown will await. Mulligan is an impressive freshman. Up top, Mifflinburg's Cole Walter is one possibility, though he'll probably have to beat Blairsville's Drew Doak and South Fayette's J.J. Walker just to get to the final. Walker was the runner-up at this same weight last March. I don't know much about Redbank Valley's Keshon Truitt, but the fact he beat Mulligan for the Northwest Regional title means he can't be much of a slouch.

170 Pounds
   Another very good weight here with no definitive favorite from my perspective. I would say South Park's Greg Bulsak and Bermudian Springs' Briton Shelton are slight top picks from each side of the bracket, but I wouldn't be sleeping on names such as Gavin Hoffman, Jason Lynch, or Levi Niebauer to mention a few. Hoffman is another impressive upperweight freshman in Class AA, and he'll see Lynch in Round One, with the winner likely getting Bulsak. Niebauer, a sixth place medalist last season, could battle Shelton in the quarterfinals. Bedford's Daniel Brett has had a really good postseason so far and his first state tournament bout will be against Boiling Springs' Travis Wickard.

182 Pounds
   Gavin Hoffman's big brother Garrett is a likely selection to emerge from the top half at 182. The Montoursville junior is 42-0. Down below, Bermudian Springs' Colton Dull and Penns Valley's Corey Hazel are the regional champions. Though third in the Northwest Regional, Greenville's Gage Gladysz could be a darkhorse from that part of the bracket.

195 Pounds
   In the top half here, regional champions Alek Hummel of North Schuylkill and Dylan Reynolds of Saegertown are a combined 88-1 this season. Also up top are Benton's Logan Womelsdorf, Chestnut Ridge's Conner Buttry, and Berlin's Toby Cahill. Buttry's first rounder is against Canton's Tyler Cole. Win that and it should be a date with Reynolds, who defeated the Lion junior at the Powerade Tournament. On the bottom, Blairsville's unbeaten Scott Thompson is the likely bet to await whomever in the championship round.

220 Pounds
   Bermudian Springs' Sam McCollum and West Branch's Buzzy Maines are both unbeaten and on opposite sides here. But there are several other contenders, including Kittanning's Jacob Robb, Reynolds' Cole Rickert, and Wyalusing's Dylan Otis. Robb was leading Maines 7-4 in the Southwest Regional final when the West Branch returning state finalist put Robb on his back for a pin.

285 Pounds
   Burrell's Allan Beattie and Southmoreland's Jake Beistel are the top two ranked kids at heavyweight . Beattie defeated Beistel for the Southwest title and thus they are are opposite sides of the draw. Beattie could have an interesting quarterfinal against the winner between Bermudian Springs' Brady Linebaugh and Reynolds' Gene Ringer.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

SW Regional: Saturday Morning Eyecatchers

   Here are some things to look for this morning at the Southwest Regional.

 Three Semifinal Weights to Watch
120 – Huntingdon’s Collin Glorioso vs. Burgettstown’s Austin McDermitt; Jefferson-Morgan’s Brendan Howard vs. Westmont’s Carnell Andrews
   Should be two good ones here. Glorioso-McDermitt is a semi I’ve been looking forward to since the brackets were released. The Huntingdon junior was part of a strong first day for the Bearcats. The other side pits WPIAL champ Howard against freshman Andrews, who was solid with four takedowns of Chestnut Ridge’s Justin McCoy in the quarterfinals.

160 – South Fayette’s Jared Walker vs. Westmont’s Anthony Walters; Berlin’s Bryce Fochtman vs. Blairsville’s Drew Doak
   A senior vs. a freshman on the top of the draw here with defending state runner-up Walker taking on another of Westmont’s heralded freshmen group. Walker finds ways to win, which is the bottom line here, but he often looks less than impressive doing so. Walters made an escape stand up to get past Chestnut Ridge’s Colby Hillegass in the quarters. Doak is still unbeaten and might have looked as good as anybody that wrestled two bouts on Friday, with a first period pin and a 17-6 major decision to his credit. Fochtman is one of five Berlin semifinalists, though all of them may be considered underdogs in the morning round.

170 – Cambria Heights’ Levi Niebauer vs. Beth-Center’s Anthony Welsh; South Park’s Greg Bulsak vs. Berlin’s Taylor Cahill
   One of the tougher weights statewide has four good semifinalists in this Southwest Regional. Niebauer, a state medalist a year ago, rang up a pin in his only action yesterday, while Welsh powered past Penn Cambria’s Jacob Driskel and Bedford’s Daniel Brett. On the bottom, it’s two district champions in Bulsak and Cahill. Cahill had a pair of pins on Friday to secure his state tournament slot.

   There should be other good semifinals, including at 152 with Chestnut Ridge’s Trent Crouse taking on Huntingdon’s Jacob Oliver in a highly-anticipated showdown. Given some pressure is off now that Crouse has finally earned a trip to the state tournament, I’m interested to see how his style matches up with Oliver.

Locals’ Road to Hershey
   Four of my coverage area wrestlers – Chestnut Ridge’s Aaron Burkett (106), Crouse (152), and Conner Buttry (195), along with Bedford’s Jonathan Gabriel (126) – have already punched their tickets to Hershey. Here’s a look at what lies ahead for the rest of the Bedford County contingent in the second round of consolations. These wrestlers need two wins to get inside the top six which would mean a date in Hershey next week:

113 – Everett’s Liam Flaherty: faces Huntingdon’s Izac Benson, who pulled off an early stunner by pinning McGuffey’s Gage Nicolella, the D7 champ.
113 – Northern Bedford’s Zach Clark: in the same part of the consolation bracket as Flaherty. Clark gave Penn Cambria’s Nolan Link a battle in a quarterfinal loss, 9-4, and meets Mount Pleasant’s Alex Miscovich this morning.
113 – Chestnut Ridge’s Dylan Williams: Williams suffered a heartbreaking loss to West Branch’s Joey Couteret last night. The Lions’ sophomore led 4-1 late before Couteret rallied to force sudden victory overtime and scored the winning takedown. Williams will have to regroup against Burrell’s Trent Bechtold, and then could possibly see Nicolella with a state berth on the line.
120 – Chestnut Ridge’s Justin McCoy: After falling to Andrews, McCoy drops into the loser’s bracket and will face Marion Center’s David Wiles, who eliminated Northern Bedford’s Trey Childers. If McCoy wins, he’ll get either Central’s Braeden Swab or Somerset’s Quinn Cole. McCoy pinned Cole in last week’s district semifinals.
126 – Chestnut Ridge’s Luke Hobson: After losing in the opening round yesterday, Hobson bounced back with a wrestleback victory and now draws WPIAL champ Hunter Neely of Bentworth, who lost in the quarters.
126 – Northern Bedford’s Jared Helsley: Helsley also lost in Round One, and came back to pin Richland’s Stephen Rouser last night to remain in the tournament. Like Hobson, Helsley gets a WPIAL wrestler in South Allegheny’s Justo Hernandez.
132 – Chestnut Ridge’s Morgan Deremer: Deremer also went into the consolations early and stayed alive to today with a win over Burrell’s Jason Roberts. Deremer’s gift for that is a bout with South Fayette’s Shane Ging, who ended Crouse’s season a couple of years ago in Johnstown. Should Deremer win, he might see Berlin’s Joe Swank in a go to states or go home third round consolation. Swank has two wins over Deremer this season, but it was just 6-5 last weekend.
132 – Everett’s Ben Stover: Stover received a bye in the consolation’s first round and now gets Richland’s Adam George, who was upset in his quarterfinal bout.
138 – Chestnut Ridge’s Derrick Claar: Claar lost a tight 2-1 quarter to Southmoreland’s Evan Myers. Still looking for an elusive trip to the individual state tournament in his last chance, Claar starts his wrestleback journey against Chartiers-Houston’s Ben Hritsko.
138 – Northern Bedford’s Carter Replogle: A first round winner, Replogle dropped into the consolations and will draw Huntingdon’s Tyler Scott. Replogle is on the opposite side of the consy bracket from Claar.
160 – Chestnut Ridge’s Colby Hillegass: Hillegass battled Westmont’s Walters before losing, 1-0. That puts him in the consolations against West Branch’s Clayton Green, then maybe the winner between Huntingdon’s Jon Wagner and North Star’s Dillion Charlton, whom Hillegass beat in the D5 Tournament last weekend.
170 – Bedford’s Daniel Brett: Brett will face Bellwood’s Zach Mock in the second round of consolations early. After that if he wins, it’s either Blairsville’s Nick Pecze or Southmoreland’s Brennen Coles.
170 – Everett’s Wes Graham: In an interesting twist, all three of Everett’s competitors wrestled only one bout on Friday, thanks to each of them receiving first round consolation byes. Graham will try to keep his season going against Burgettstown’s Jake McKee.
182 – Chestnut Ridge’s Brandyn Beaver: Beaver faces Juniata’s Taylor Foster, who came into the tournament with only one loss but fell in the quarterfinals.
285 – Chestnut Ridge’s Shane Davis: Davis was pinned in a quarter by Jefferson-Morgan’s Ian Wolfe. The path for the Lion senior starts with Washington’s Keirs Gloady. The winner there gets either United’s Andrew Deitman or McGuffey’s Ryan Steinstraw.