Lake-Lehman, Hazleton Area Bring WVC Back To State Duals
After a year entirely away from the PIAA Team Wresting Championships, the Wyoming Valley Conference gets a shot to get back on the winning track when this season’s state dual meet tournament gets started today in Hershey with first-round action.
The WVC hasn’t won a match at states since Tunkhannock advanced from a Class 3A consolation matchup in 2016. Some of today’s wrestlers were barely even walking the last time a WVC team actually won its state-opening match — 2004, when Lake-Lehman was victorious in one of two total first-round duals that filled out the rest of the state quarterfinals.
But that’s all old news. This season’s state qualifiers from the WVC, Hazleton Area in Class 3A and Lake-Lehman in 2A, have proved all they could so far with undefeated league seasons and impressive District 2 championships.
Time will tell if the Cougars and Black Knights can change the WVC’s luck at states. Here’s where they can get started:
Class 3A First Round
Hazleton Area vs. Council Rock South
When: 6, tonight
Where: Giant Center, Hershey
How they got here: Hazleton Area won the District 2 championship over Delaware Valley, 33-30. Council Rock South defeated Spring-Ford, 42-25, for the District 1 championship.
Moving on: The winner advances to Friday’s quarterfinals and faces the winner of District 12’s Father Judge vs. District 3’s Dallastown. The loser falls into the consolation bracket.
About the matchup: From a state-wide perspective, these two districts don’t carry much of a reputation in the team tournament. District 2 hasn’t made a PIAA duals final, and District 1 has just one winner since the team competition began in 1999.
That’s not to say Council Rock South doesn’t know how to win in the postseason, though. The Golden Hawks just celebrated their third consecutive district duals title and return to states for the sixth year in a row. A semifinals appearance in 2017 and trips to the 2015 and ’16 quarterfinals highlight this run, during which the Hawks have fallen to the eventual PIAA champion twice.
Kyle Waterman, who placed fifth in the state at 106 pounds last year, and other returning PIAA qualifiers Maximino Mendez (113 last season), Shane Hanson-Ashworth (120), Eric Woloshyn (138), Cole Flanagan (152) and Nik Korbich (170) give CRS plenty of firepower. If they beat up Hazleton Area in the lower weights, the Cougars will try to make up for it higher in the lineup. That’s what happened in their D2 title win over Delaware Valley, when Jake Marnell (170), Seth Hunsinger (195) and undefeated Shane Noonan (220) scored pins to turn a 27-15 deficit with four bouts to go into a 33-30 championship.
Class 2A First Round
Lake-Lehman vs. Brookville
When: 2, today
Where: Giant Center, Hershey
How they got here: Lake-Lehman defeated Tunkhannock in the District 2 final, 45-33. Brookville won the District 9 title over Port Allegany, 45-21.
Moving on: The winner takes on either District 4’s Southern Columbia or District 10’s Conneaut Area in Friday’s quarterfinals. The loser falls to the consolation bracket.
About the matchup: Lake-Lehman faces a team with a solid track record at this tournament. Brookville won the inaugural Class 2A team championship in 1999, and it brought another title home in 2016 during a run that’s still going. The Raiders have won six District 9 championships in a row; this is also their eighth state tournament appearance in a row.
A fourth-place finish and a quarterfinals appearance have followed Brookville’s last state title. Colby Whitehill (eighth in the state at heavyweight last year), Owen Reinsel (106), Cabe Park (132), Wyatt Griffin (160), Elliot Park (170) and Braden MacBeth (182) had pins in Brookville’s district title win and will try to keep the big wins coming for another shot at gold.
Of course, the Raiders aren’t the only team who knows how to put opponents on their backs. Lake-Lehman pinned its way to 183 total points in three district tournament wins, the highest total by a D2 champion since at least 2007. The Black Knights, who last wrestled here in 2016, have the ability to score big behind 100-match winner Bob Long, fellow senior T.J. Meehan and rising underclassmen like sophomores Josh Bonomo, Zach Stuart, Jake Trumbower and Nick Zaboski.
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