By Rich Rhoades
District 9’s regional qualifiers spring into action Friday and Saturday at separate Northwest Regional Tournaments. The Class AA tournament is at Sharon while Class AAA is in Altoona.
This year the state tournament expands from a 16- to 20-man bracket (see Class AA template here, AAA here). While nothing changes in Class AAA where the top three finishers at each of the 14 weight advance to the PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey March 5-7, Class AA advances the top four finishers at Sharon. It’s been three previously.
So that opens the door for more D9 wrestlers and in Class AA that could be a handful.
Schedule: Friday (preliminary round, 5:30 p.m.; quarterfinals following). Saturday (Consolation preliminaries, 9 a.m.; second-round consolations, semifinals, 11:30 a.m.; consolation semifinals following. Consolation finals: 3:30 p.m. Championship finals: 5:30 p.m.)
Brookville’s Taylor Ortz (3rd at 113) and Jimmy Miller (8th at 160), and Brockway’s Ryan Carlson (8th at 106) are returning state medalists while Redbank Valley’s Tanner Altobelli was a state qualifier. Curwensville’s Shae Bloom, wrestling at Class AAA DuBois last year, went to states after winning the regional title at 126 pounds. He’s looking for his third state berth.
Five wrestlers placed fourth at regionals and will be contending for at least a top-four finish this year if not higher — Cameron County’s Jack Karsten, Brookville’s Bryce Town, Brockway’s Anthony Benson, Port Allegany’s Casey Vollmer and Cranberry’s Josh Hancock.
According to Off the Mat Wrestling Rankings, 15 D9 wrestlers are ranked in the top 16 in the state with Ortz being the top-ranked wrestler at 120 pounds. Other ranked wrestlers by OTM:
106 – Gavin Park, Brookville, No. 6
113 – Vollmer, Port A., No. 8; Carlson, Brockway, No. 11
126 – Altobelli, Redbank Valley, No. 12
132 – Mason Lindenmuth, Brockway, No. 7
138 – Shae Bloom, Curwensville, No. 4
152 – Miller, Brookville, No. 5; James Duffy, Smethport, No. 10
160 – Keshon Truitt, Redbank Valley, No. 9
170 – Benson, Brockway, No. 11
220 – Ethan Budd, Port A., No. 5; Town, Brookville, No. 6
HWT – Karsten, Cameron County, No. 4; Tyler Beal, Keystone, No. 16
The Class AA Northwest Regional brackets are made up of six wrestlers from District 10 and four from District 9. Based on the OTM rankings:
106 – Park is the top-ranked wrestler in the bracket.
113 – Vollmer and Carlson are among four state-ranked wrestlers in the bracket with D10 wrestlers ranked at Nos. 5 and 6 (Gage Bayless, Reynolds; and Farris Messai, Jamestown).
120 – Ortz is the top-ranked wrestler in the region with D10 wrestlers at Nos. 4 (Cole Matthews, Reynolds), 14 and 15.
126 – Altobelli is ranked behind two D10 wrestlers with Reynolds’ Seth Hogue No. 3.
132 – Lindenmuth is the second-ranked wrestler in the region behind No. 4 Mike Bartolo of Reynolds. Fort LeBeouf’s Jarrette Carter is No. 8 right behind Lindenmuth.
138 – Bloom is ranked second in the bracket behind Saegertown’s No. 2 Tyler Vath.
145 – No ranked wrestlers from D9. Three hail from D10, led by No. 2 Nick Monico of Saegertown.
152 – Miller is the top-ranked wrestler in the bracket with the next highest No. 9 Blake Reynolds of Greenville. Duffy is one spot behind Reynolds.
160 – Truitt is ranked second behind No. 4 Cody Mulligan of Saegertown. No. 16 Giovanni Volpe of Sharon is the third ranked wrestler in the bracket.
170 – Benson is ranked behind No. 4 Mike Millero of Reynolds in the bracket. They’re the only two state-ranked wrestlers in the group.
182 – No ranked D9 wrestlers with three ranked wrestlers from D10.
195 – No ranked D9 wrestlers with four from D10, including No. 1 Dylan Reynolds of Saegertown.
220 – Budd and Town are the top two ranked wrestlers in the bracket with D10 wrestlers at Nos. 12 and 13 (Zach Stafford, Cambridge Springs; Cole Rickert, Reynolds).
HWT – Karsten is the highest ranked man in the bracket with Reynolds’ Gene Ringer right behind him at No. 5. Beal is the only other ranked wrestler at No. 16.
Schedule: Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. Consolation finals, 6 p.m., with championship finals following.
With just two returning state qualifiers, District 9 wrestlers will definitely have to earn trips to Hershey.
Leading the way is junior Caleb Young of Punxsutawney, unbeaten at 12-0 because of a hand injury that limited his bout total. He’s ranked second in the state at 152 pounds after earning a fifth-place medal as a sophomore last year at 138.
Also ranked are Clearfield’s Noah Cline (No. 18) at 132 and Travis Ogden (No. 13) at 195.