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WVC Wrestlers Gearing Up For Run At State Medal Stand

March 6, 2019
WVC Wrestlers Gearing Up For Run At State Medal Stand

Not long after losing by two in a tough Northeast Regional final, Dallas senior Steven Newell spoke with perspective. He fell just short of a regional title but was still moving on to states. So, that loss in the championship round could have been a timely wake-up call in disguise. “A tournament like this kind of makes you regroup, take a step back. I was on a high horse for a while there, not losing a match for a while,” said Newell, whose only two losses this season have come against 2018 state qualifiers. “When you lose, it kind of humbles you. I think this will help me this week. ... A loss sometimes can be more beneficial than a win.” Newell left regionals ready to focus on fundamentals, conditioning and staying in his best possible positions — “being prepared for those overtime matches down at states,” he added. It’s just about time for the Wyoming Valley Conference’s 11 remaining wrestlers to put lessons like those to use in one final test.

They’ve all proven themselves against the best in District 2 and the Northeast region. All that’s left is this weekend’s PIAA Wrestling Championships, which start Thursday at Hershey’s Giant Center.

Here’s a brief lookout on all the WVC’s state medal contenders.

Class 3A

126 pounds

David Krokowski

Valley West senior

Seed: NE-3

Record: 39-3

Head coach: Ryan Vassello

Accomplishments: The first four-time champion in 10 years of the Wyoming Valley Conference tournament also became the latest to win four consecutive District 2 titles. Krokowski is second all-time among Spartans wins leaders.

First opponent: First-round bye; wrestles in second round vs. Kiski Area senior Darren Miller (41-2).

Others to know in bracket: Franklin Regional senior Colton Camacho is a returning PIAA runner-up at 132. ... Altoona sophomore Matt Sarbo placed seventh at 106 in 2018 and could face Krokowski in the quarterfinals. ... East Stroudsburg South’s Patrick Gould, a possible semifinal opponent for Krokowski, is a two-time medalist at his fourth state tourney ... Another semifinal possiblity, Cedar Cliff senior J.J. Wilson, placed fourth last year.

182 pounds

Steven Newell

Dallas senior

Seed: NE-2

Record: 38-2

Head coach: Mike Richards

Accomplishments: Newell recently passed the 150th career victory milestone, becoming the first in Dallas history to do so. Along the way, he’s won three straight D2 titles and took second in last week’s regional by a narrow decision.

First opponent: First-round bye; wrestles in second round vs. Downingtown West junior Chase Mielnik (33-7), runner-up from the Southeast Regional.

Others to know in bracket: Cathedral Prep senior Carter Starocci is a two-time finalist and last year’s champion at 160. ... Mt. Lebanon junior Luke Stout placed fourth last season and will see Newell in the quarterfinals if both win their openers. ... Belle Vernon senior Scott Joll, Unionville junior Tyler Mousaw and Hollidaysburg senior Mason McCready were other 2018 state medalists.

220 pounds

Shane Noonan

Hazleton Area senior

Seed: NE-1

Record: 41-0

Head coach: Keith Maurer

Accomplishments: Noonan kept his season record spotless with District 2’s first 3A regional title since 2015 and his school’s first since 2010. He’s a three-time D2 champion in his second state tourney.

First opponent: First-round bye; wrestles in second round vs. either Hempfield junior Dillon Ferretti (32-9) or Marple Newtown freshman Bill Brosko (19-7).

Others to know in bracket: Sun Valley junior Hunter Catka is the defending state champion. ... Selinsgrove sophomore Nate Schon placed eighth last season and could meet Noonan in the semifinals. ... Erie Cathedral junior Dorian Crosby is another returning medalist, taking fifth.

285 pounds

Shawn Henninger

Dallas senior

Seed: NE-2

Record: 33-9

Head coach: Mike Richards

Accomplishments: Last year’s D2 champion has added runner-up finishes in this year’s WVC, D2 and Northeast Regional finals. He took his regional title bout to overtime, his third such match of the weekend.

First opponent: First-round bye; wrestles in second round vs. Ridley senior Tom Bramwell (32-6), runner-up in the Southeast Regional.

Others to know in bracket: Cathedral Prep senior Kawaun DeBoe is a returning state finalist. ... Central York senior Michael Wolfgram, who Henninger could wrestle with a victory, took fourth in 2018’s tournament. ... Upper St. Clair senior Jake Slinger, another in Henninger’s half of the bracket, also earned a medal last season.

Class 2A

120 pounds

David Evans

Tunkhannock junior

Seed: NE-1

Record: 21-2

Head coach: Bob Hegedty

Accomplishments: Evans returned from a broken arm in time to repeat as D2 champ and help bring home the WVC’s first 2A regional title since 2015. He was a PIAA quarterfinalist at Class 3A a year ago and will try again to medal against a whole new field.

First opponent: First-round bye; wrestles in second round vs. either Saegertown junior Alex Kightlinger (35-14) or Hamburg sophomore Bailey Gimbor (37-10), who won a pair of bouts at states last year.

Joe Rowley

Hanover Area junior

Seed: NE-4

Record: 35-11

Head coach: Mike Griffith

Accomplishments: The two-time D2 finalist proved all that matters is advancing. Rowley — a state finalist in cross country last fall — took the third and final regional spot at districts and then the fourth and final qualifying spot at regionals to make it to Hershey.

First opponent: First round vs. Penns Valley senior Baylor Shunk (35-6), who’s in his third state tournament and placed seventh in 2017.

Others to know in bracket: Reynolds senior Beau Bayless is a 2017 champion who’s placed fourth or better the last three years here; Rowley faces him with a win, and Evans could see him in a semifinal. ... St. Joseph’s Academy’s Amonn Ohl was sixth last year and will wrestle Evans in the quarterfinals if both win. ... Burrell sophomore Ian Oswalt, Bishop McDevitt junior Nate Smith and Biglerville junior Blake Showers are other returning medalists.

132 pounds

Bob Long

Lake-Lehman senior

Seed: NE-4

Record: 30-8

Head coach: J.J. Konigus

Accomplishments: Long won a WVC title and wrestled in his third D2 final at one of its toughest weights. Though he didn’t wrestle at his first state tournament due to injury, the 100-match winner has been at the Giant Center for team states and has plenty of big-match experience.

First opponent: First round vs. Newport junior Dorian Gonzalez (27-7), who made it to states at 120 last season.

Others to know in bracket: Saucon Valley senior Joshua Jones is a returning state finalist at 126 who highlights a weight class littered with former medalists. ... If Long wins his opener, he’ll face Cambridge senior Tye Varndell, who took fourth last season. Win that, and he could see Northern Lebanon senior Colin Leonard, eighth place in ’18. ... Everett senior Garret Cornell and Quaker Valley sophomore Conner Redinger were third at their weights last season.

145 pounds

Gavin D’Amato

Tunkhannock junior

Seed: NE-3

Record: 30-9

Head coach: Bob Hegedty

Accomplishments: Rebounding from a quick D2 exit last season, 2017’s district champ won another gold medal before posting a gritty finish to regionals. He won three straight matches by 1-2 points for regional bronze.

First opponent: First round vs. Berlin Brothersvalley junior Tristan Pugh (37-2), who won a couple matches at 138 in last year’s tournament.

Hunter Burke

Lake-Lehman sophomore

Seed: NE-4

Record: 22-9

Head coach: J.J. Konigus

Accomplishments: One of Lehman’s young rising stars, Burke came within a point of D’Amato for D2 gold and two points away from regional bronze in last weekend’s rematch. The two-time D2 runner-up has gotten a taste of the state atmosphere at the team duals and could turn this tournament into a nice building block or more.

First opponent: First round vs. Fairfield senior Page Karsteter (28-8), the fifth seed from Southeast’s regional.

Others to know in bracket: St. Joseph’s Academy junior Caleb Dowling is a returning silver medalist at 138 who gets the winner of Burke’s opener. ... Palisade’s senior Nathan Haubert, this weight’s defending PIAA champion, is also in Burkes’ half of the bracket. ... Pequea Valley senior Gabe Miller placed sixth a year ago and would meet D’Amato in the semifinals.

152 pounds

D.J. Erickson

Hanover Area senior

Seed: NE-1

Record: 38-4

Head coach: Mike Griffith

Accomplishments: The Hawkeyes’ all-time wins leader is back for his third state tournament. He got here with a repeat title performance at districts and redemption in the regionals final for the WVC’s first title since 2015.

First opponent: First-round bye; wrestles in second round vs. either North Star junior Alec Supanick (33-7) or Northern Lebanon junior Nick Winters (32-14)

Others to know in bracket: Freedom Area sophomore Trent Schultheis earned eighth in 2018. ... Pope John Paul II senior Ryan Vulakh was a bronze medalist in 3A last season. Erickson wouldn’t see either in the championship bracket until the semifinals or finals, respectively.

220 pounds

T.J. Meehan

Lake-Lehman senior

Seed: NE-4

Record: 21-12

Head coach: J.J. Konigus

Accomplishments: Two pins was all it took for Meehan to win his four-wrestler D2 bracket. He backed that title up with a regional semifinal appearance and then a pin in the consolations to qualify for states. One of the Black Knights’ keys to a D2 duals title gets to close his career with another trip to Hershey this season.

First opponent: First round vs. Pequea Valley senior Joey Coblentz (36-10), Southeast’s No. 6 seed.

Others to know in bracket: A win for Meehan would mean a matchup against Derry Area senior Dominic DeLuca, last year’s state silver medalist. ... Greenville senior Jacob McMaster, third last year, is on the opposite half of Meehan’s bracket.

Contact the writer: eshultz@citizensvoice.com; 570-821-2054; @CVEricShultz on Twitter.