2018-19 District 9 wrestling preview.
(Photo of Brockway’s Anthony Glasl)
**Cameron County, Ridgway, and Sheffield did not provide information for the preview
Brockway Rovers (co-op with Dubois Central Catholic)
The Rovers finished last season with a 14-4 dual meet record and were runner-ups at the District 9 team tournament, earning a spot in the state duals. Head coach Eric Grecco has a talented line-up featuring three district champions, senior Garrett McClintick (34-8) at 195-pounds and juniors Anthony Glasl (34-6) and Eric Johnson (27-12) at 132-pounds and 182-pounds, respectively. McClintick and Glasl were both state qualifiers a year ago. The Elkers have two additional regional qualifiers in the fold, heavyweight Hayden Thompson (21-13) and 145-pounder Tino Inzana (22-16), both seniors. Dominic Inzana, the expected starter at 120-pounds, posted a 26-5 record last year. Grecco expects the Elkers to contend for the district team championship and the individual district title as a team. He would like to see his squad initiate more shots and re-attacks from the neutral position this season. Grecco is assisted by Bruce Grecco, Colt Puhala, Curtis Markle, and Dave Inzana.
Last season head coach Dave Klepfer’s Brookville Raiders won the District 9 team tournament for the fifth consecutive year on their way to posting a 24-4 dual meet mark. The Raiders are led by junior standout Colby Whitehill (40-7), a district champion and state qualifier a season ago. Whitehill, a heavyweight, placed second in both freestyle and Greco Roman at the US Marine Corps Cadet and Junior Nationals tournament this past July and was runner-up at the Super 32 Challenge in October. Brookville’s line-up will also include senior Cabe Park (20-13) at 132-pounds, junior Cole Labenne (5-15) at 170-pounds, and sophomore Elliot Park (13-11) at 170 pounds, all regional qualifiers. Another key returner is 113-pounder Cayden Walter, a sophomore who went 23-10 last season. The goal remains the same at Brookville, winning both the team and individual district tournaments. And Klepfer believes he has the line-up to do it, considering the grapplers on his roster to be solid wrestlers capable in all three positions. Mick Stormer, Brad Cieleski, Jimmy Miller, Eli Morres, and Noah Cieleski serve as assistant coaches.
Clarion Bobcats (co-op with Clarion-Limestone, Keystone, and North Clarion)
Head coach Brian Luton’s Clarion squad will have a difficult time duplicating last year’s 11-5 dual meet record simply because the Bobcats’ lack numbers at the varsity level. As such, success this season will be gauged more by individual performance. Luton does have several quality wrestlers on the roster, including three-time regional qualifier Tyler VanTassel (25-10), who will now don the orange-and-black since Keystone entered into a cooperative agreement with Clarion the past summer. Currently injured, Van Tassell will wrestle at 195-pounds when he returns to the line-up. Also returning are seniors Login Dehner (21-8) at 126 pounds and Cam Boggess (19-10) at 182-pounds, as well as sophomore Cutter Boggess (19-11) at 152-pounds. Luton wants his wrestlers to focus on positional wrestling this season. Assistant coaches are Matt Watterson, Cam Slike, and Seth Nellis.
The Coudersport Falcons were 11-9 last season and return state qualifier Elijah Ayers (32-10) for the 2018-2019 season. Ayers, a senior, is expected to go at 195-pounds. Just missing the 20-win benchmark a year ago was sophomore Cale Ayers (19-7), the projected starter at 182-pounds. Head coach Tom Storey’s squad features several young wrestlers who he believes will benefit from the experience of multiple returning wrestlers and senior leadership. Storey is very concrete in his goals for the season, wanting multiple regional qualifiers, at least two state qualifiers, and one state place winner.
Curwensville Golden Tide
Despite posting a dual meet record of 3-13, there were bright spots in the Curwensville line-up. Blake Passarelli (30-8), a senior this season, made his third consecutive trip to Hershey after winning districts and placing second at regionals. The third time was a charm for Passarelli, as he earned his first spot on the podium. Junior Zach Holland (20-7) was a regional qualifier for the second straight season. Also returning from last year’s team is senior Cole Bressler (13-15). Like many squads in District 9, the Golden Tide suffer from a lack of numbers. Head coach Dean Swatsworth knows this will again make winning matches difficult, so he is focused on getting his grapplers the best matches possible, with the goal of ending this year better than last. Swatsworth is assisted by Johnny Sutika and Chris Folmar.
The Rams were 13-11 last season with a talented group of underclassmen. This year’s roster features six returning grapplers who earned 20 wins a year ago, including junior Tyler Watts (23-9) at 170-pounds and sophomores Cole Norlin (20-10) at 113-pounds, Nolan Shaffer (20-11) at 126-pounds, Dalton Stahli (20-12) at 132-pounds, Cole Casilio (24-9) at 152-pounds, and Isaac Zimmerman (20-15) at 160-pounds. Norlin and Stahli were regional qualifiers. Head coach Michael Votano notes that though his line-up is young, the majority have been wrestling since elementary school, spending considerable time on the mat. Though he considers his charges to be strategic grapplers during matches, Votano believes they could generate more offense from their feet and score more from the top position. Dylan Nelson, Eric Iorfido, Dane Condino, and Preston Mahoney are assistant coaches.
Kane Wolves (co-op with East Forest)
Kane, 14-4 last year, will, in the words of head coach Mike Swartwood, Sr. have “a legitimate full line-up without having to move guys around” for the 2018-2019 season. Alec English (36-4), a senior for this campaign, won districts and regionals a year ago, qualifying for states. He is projected to wrestle at 160-pounds. Other regional qualifiers in the Kane line-up will be seniors Noah Blankenship (18-8) at 138 pounds and Aiden Hulings (28-7), a state qualifier in 2017, at 152 pounds. English and Hulings could both potentially reach the 100 win milestone this season. Other returners are senior Ty Stahli (21-13) at 220-pounds, juniors Teddy Race (25-7), Cameron Whisner (16-8) at 170-pounds, Brandon Healy (9-2) at 126-pounds, and Nate Asp (14-16) at 145-pounds, and sophomore Dillon Illerbrun (12-15). The expectations are high at Kane, as Swartwood, Sr. thinks his team is capable of winning the AML, winning the district team duals, and placing as a top-five team at individual districts. To do this, the Wolves will need to stay healthy and avoid snafus, as Swartwood is concerned about depth. He would also like to see his wrestlers be more consistent and to collect bonus points when they are available. Assistant coaches are Eugene Brown, Eric Whisner, Jonah Davis, and Mike Swartwood, Jr.
Oswayo Valley Green Wave
Gabe Higley’s squad finished with an 8-12 record a season ago. The Green Wave return two wrestlers who posted double digits in the win column, 145-pounder Isaiah Barney (19-11) and 152-pounder Colton Gietler (17-9). Higley could have seniors throughout his line-up including Kolby Coscia (120-pounds), Brandyn Delong (132-pounds), Patrick Rounsville (145-pounds), Joe Reed (152-pounds), Michael Hewitt (160-pounds), Keiya Matsumoto (160-pounds), Steven Langworthy (170-pounds), and Michael VanDergrift (220-pounds).
Port Allegany Gators (co-op with Smethport)
The Gators are returning district champ and state qualifier Bryent Johnson (22-5) from last year’s 13-10 team. Johnson, a sophomore 106-pounder, will be joined by five regional qualifiers; seniors Reese Vollmer (31-7) at 113-pounds and Issac Smoker (27-18) at 145-pounds, as well as sophomores Braedon Johnson (21-5) at 120-pounds, Isaiah Caden (21-12) at 126-pounds, and Justin Young (24-18) at 195-pounds. Vollmer is 22 wins shy of achieving the 100-win milestone. Unlike many squads, Port Allegany is not hurting for numbers, with head coach Bradley Greenman reporting that 26 wrestlers came out for this year’s team. He feels that because the Gators have multiple individuals at each weight class they will be able to ride out the bumps and bruises of a season without having to give up forfeits. Greenman has set lofty goals for the 2018-2019 campaign, among them, winning the Allegheny Mountain League, competing for the District 9 team title, having eight regional qualifiers, and sending three of those to states. Chad Saltsman, Adam Greenman, Nick Budd, and Nate Schwab serve as assistant coaches.
Redbank Valley Bulldogs
Redbank Valley only graduated two from last year’s 9-7 team, returning a nice mix of upper- and underclassmen. Senior Mason Songer (28-15), the expected starter at 113-pounds, was a state qualifier a season ago. The Bulldogs also have four returning regional qualifiers; seniors Brayden Altobelli (27-11) at 120-pounds and Hunter Martz (25-17) at 126-pounds, as well as sophomores Aiden Gardener (24-13) at 220-pounds and Trenten Rupp (21-13) at 106 pounds. Head Coach Mike Kundick reports a full room this season and that his grapplers are competitive, confident, and have the potential of achieving a lot of goals. According to Kundick, the primary goal is winning the District 9 team title and going to the state duals, with the key to the season being the improvement on the part of his more inexperienced charges and avoiding injury. Redbank Valley was the last District 9 team champion before Brookville embarked on its five-year run.
**Clearfield and Punxsutawney did not provide information for the preview
The Owls went 10-6 in dual meets last season. In 2018-2019 their line-up will be anchored by the Keane brothers, senior Dillion (31-4) at 160-pounds and junior Colby (18-7) at 152-pounds. Both placed second in districts a year ago. Head coach Jamey Miller is also expecting big things from freshman Brett Thompson, who he projects at either 120- or 126-pounds. Markie Havers returns as the assistant coach.
Cranberry Berries (co-op with Oil City)
The Berries, 7-6 this past season, return six grapplers with at least 15 wins; seniors Mitchell Rossey (17-10) at 132-pounds, CJ Shreffler (21-14 in 2017/2018), and Jesse York (18-6) at 170-pounds, as well as juniors Carter Stanley (26-8) at 138-pounds, Jacob Umstead (15-10) at 106-pounds, and Eben Wry (15-10) at 160-pounds. Rossey and Stanley advanced to regionals last season, while Shreffler was a regional qualifier in 2017-2018. Head coach Dustin Wenner reports that the first year of the co-op with Oil City is going well and that he has 28 wrestlers in the room, ranging from beginners to the very experienced. Wenner is assisted by Darren Wenner and Mike Crocker.
Head coach Lucas Bundy’s Beavers return a talented group of experienced wrestlers from a squad that went 18-4 a season ago. Junior Ed Scott (33-4), the projected starter at 138-pounds, is a defending district and regional champion. Dubois also features two other district champions in their line-up, senior Dalton Woodrow (30-8) at 145-pounds and sophomore Chandler Ho (27-6) at 120- and/or 126-pounds, as well as regional qualifiers in senior Eric Schneider (15-19) at 182-pounds and junior heavyweight Alex O’Harrah (19-13). Also returning is 2016-2017 state qualifier Trenton Donahue (21-1), who is projected to man either the 126- and/or 132-pound spots. Bundy will also be seeking contributions from junior 152-pounder Gauge Gulvas (4-7) and sophomore 160-pounder Garrett Starr (15-16). Woodrow, seeking to capture his fourth district title, and Scott, looking to win his third consecutive regional championship, are each on the verge of attaining the 100-win milestone.
Saint Marys Flying Dutchmen (co-op with Elk County Catholic)
Despite going 5-11 a season ago, head coach Dominic Surra is confident heading into the 2018-2019 campaign. The Flying Dutchmen return some state quality upperclassmen and several underclassmen with very good potential. Surra is especially looking forward to having 132-pounder Tyler Dilley back in his line-up. Dilley, a senior, missed all of last season due to injury after posting a 26-6 record and qualifying for states as a sophomore. Other regional qualifiers in the line-up include seniors Alec Bittler (26-6) at 138-pounds and juniors Marco Paropacic (4-6) at 120-pounds, Tylor Herzing (26-12) at 126-pounds, Gregory Tettis (9-11) at 138-pounds, and Johnny Wittman (16-14) at 152-pounds, and sophomore Ed Messineo (7-17) at 113 pounds. Surra wants to bring home state hardware this season, noting he has several state-caliber wrestlers. Competing for the D9/4 team championship is also on the agenda. Assistant Coaches are Adam Resch, Pat Herzing, Zach Hoy, Steve Simchick, and Brian Fenton.
*all records are from the 2017-2018 season unless noted, weights are coaches projections for the 2018-2019 season