Traver’s Path To A Title Goes Through Old Friends
TUNKHANNOCK — Holiday tournament championships haven’t exactly come gift-wrapped for Tommy Traver lately.
This weekend’s Tunkhannock Holiday Wrestling Classic is the latest example. He’s the top 138-pound seed at his home tournament and finished Friday’s opening day with two pins in 56 seconds total.
What comes next in today’s 10 a.m. semifinals and beyond is the hard part. Traver is among several championship hopefuls from the Wyoming Valley Conference at the Tigers’ 41st annual event, but any final he might wrestle could be the toughest of the evening.
First up is a semifinal against Troy’s Bailey Cohick. Win that, and Traver will face either Darren Clarke of Coughlin in a battle of reigning District 2 champions, or defending tourney champion Lincoln Heck from Wyoming Seminary’s B team.
He goes years back through club wrestling with both potential finalists.
“I’ve wrestled with Darren Clarke and Lincoln Heck all the way through. We were on the same team for (years),” Traver said. “It’s pretty funny that we’re all the same weight and we can wrestle each other.”
This isn’t the first time Traver has faced some tough competition before December even ended.
At last year’s Panther Holiday Classic, Traver won the title with a pin of St. Joseph’s Prep’s Caleb Dowling, who wound up as a 2018 state runner-up. Then came the Tunkhannock tournament, in which Traver fell in the finals to Pocono Mountain East’s Steven Storm, a two-time regional medalist.
Traver called the early-season challenges against “the best kids around” a great thing.
“It’s honestly a blessing to have these tight matches in the beginning of the season,” he said, “so you know what you need to work on through the conference, district, regional and state meets.”
While he has to win and see who comes out of the other semifinal, Clarke could wrestle both familiar opponents.
Clarke said he and Heck are former practice partners at the club level. They won’t need a detailed scouting report to know the ins and outs of their opponent’s style.
“We know each other so well,” Clarke said. “I just know what we’re both going to do.”
Traver said it’ll “definitely be fun” if he meets either wrestler on the mat.
“We’re all a family. All our families are really close,” he noted. “We’re all going to have fun with it.”
Traver took second and Clarke placed third at last year’s tournament. Other WVC wrestlers were right there with them last season and back in today’s semifinals with a shot at a higher finish.
Tunkhannock’s David Evans, a 2017 runner-up, started this tourney with back-to-back pins.
Coughlin’s Nino Cinti and Hanover Area’s D.J. Erickson were third-place finishers a year ago. Cinti had back-to-back decisions — including one in overtime — and Erickson earned a pin and a tough 3-0 decision to keep their title hopes alive.
“I want to go for that school record. … I’m five or six wins from 100 now, so (today) is important toward that,” Erickson said. “I don’t want to come home with another third-place plaque. I’d rather come home with a first-place one this time.”
Team chase heating up
Traver and Clarke are among Tigers and Crusaders who can help their teams jockey for position in the team standings today. Tunkhannock ended Day 1 in fourth place but first among WVC schools; Coughlin was just behind in fifth.
Abington Heights paced D2’s teams in third, and Wyoming Seminary’s B team sat in second place, just four points off Cranford’s lead.
Along with Heck, other Sem semifinalists include Magnus Frable (126), Cole Rees (160), Mike Giallorenzi (170), Kyle Costello (195), Mike Doggett (220) and Nate Miller (285).
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