H.S. Wrestling: District 4 wrestlers should shine at regionals
Before we set about looking ahead to tonight's AA Northeast Regional tournament, it's fitting to take a look back at what was a strange District 4 tournament last weekend.
Although there were no huge upsets, (top-ranked and previously unbeaten 106-pounder Brian Friery of Lewisburg lost twice in a strong weight but still advanced) there were still a lot of very odd moments.
Two-time state placewinner Cole Walter of Mifflinburg won the 152 class as expected, but was on his back twice, against two different wrestlers. Southern Columbia's Kent Lane almost was pinned in his semifinal before coming back to pin Bloomsburg's Cody Klinger, then wrestled less than a minute against unbeaten Travis McWhorter of Williamson in the final when McWhorter knocked himself out by hitting Lane's knee in a shot attempt.
If you've never experienced seeing someone seriously injured at a sporting event, there is probably no better way to take all the collective air out of a crowd. The fans were very much into all the finals before that incident; after the 30 to 45-minute delay until an immobilized McWhorter was wheeled out on a stretcher, the atmosphere in the gym just wasn't the same.
McWhorter apparently suffered a concussion and has been cleared to compete this weekend.
Incidentally, when the McWhorter injury occurred, the on-site medical staff was up in the concourse area, treating a fan who had suffered a health problem.
And Benton 195-pounder Logan Womelsdorf got a gift win in the quarterfinals against Sullivan County's Tanner McCarty when he obviously jumped the whistle to get a last-second takedown for a 4-3 win. That win will likely propel Womelsdorf, who looks like one of the strongest in this week's class, to the state tournament. McCarty, on the other hand, was eliminated.
Local Hall flavor
This year's District 4 Coaches Hall of Fame induction ceremony last week had a distinctly southern Northumberland County feel to it. Among the inductees were Line Mountain brothers Todd and Troy Laudenslager and two-time AAA state champion Scott Kurtz of Shamokin.
Todd Laudenslager, who graduated from Line Mountain in 1990, won four Southern Sectional, two district and one Northeast Regional titles and placed twice (third and sixth) at the state championships before competing at Cornell.
Troy Laudenslager, a 1994 graduate, had a 135-21-1 high school record, was a two-time sectional champ, two-time district champ, three-time regional champ and a three-time state placewinner, winning at 130 pounds in 1993, taking second at 112 in 1992 and third at 140 in 1994. He wrestled at Lehigh.
Kurtz won back-to-back state titles in 1993 and 1994 and had a career record of 116-11-1. He was 34-0 as a junior and was named the state tournament's outstanding wrestler. Kurtz wrestled for a season at Clemson University before that school dropped its program.
Other inductees were Central Columbia coach Todd Cummings, former Loyalsock and Purdue University wrestler Chris Pfleegor, former Milton coach Bob Greenly, former
Selinsgrove and Susquehanna University coach Larry Bechtel, and Larry Bassett, longtime public address announcer at Williamsport.
This weekend's regional tournament should have much the same look as the district tournament, with the obvious disclaimer that only three wrestlers advance to next week's state tournament instead of five.
That's usually not good news for District 2 wrestlers and it probably won't be again. A first impression from looking at the brackets is that, with the notable exception of Lake-Lehman's Austin Harry, the District 2 contingent looks down this year.
Here's a look at each weight:
106 - Athens' unbeaten Brian Courtney (26-0) looked impressive last week, and look for Lewisburg's Friery (33-2) to rebound from a subpar district tournament. Muncy's Angelo Barberio (31-4), Wyalusing's Josh Haley (37-5) and Benton's Alan Diltz (27-9) will all battle to advance.
113 - Line Mountain's Cam Newman (33-5) struggled a bit in winning last week and should come back stronger. He'll likely face Montgomery's Kyle Drick (29-4) in the finals. Two of Drick's losses have been to Newman, and both have been good bouts. Warrior Run's Eric Hunt (31-4), Lewisburg's Jordan Gessner (30-8) and GAR's A.J. Luton (31-4) are other strong contenders, as well as Troy's Ethan Calkins (29-6). Tough class.
120 - Warrior Run's Zack LeBarron (33-1) is the class of this field. Williamson's Tyrus Hamblin (31-4), Southern's Todd Lane (31-4) and Line Mountain's Brian Earlston (33-10) are the best of the rest.
126 - Should be a battle between Central Columbia's Lewis Williams (31-2), Sullivan County's Shawn Nitcznski (32-3), Warrior Run's Brian LeBarron (33-4), Wyoming Area's Charles Johnson (33-4) and Lewisburg's Dante Taylor (28-8).
132 - Harry (34-1) is a big favorite, although Montoursville sophomore Keith Batkowski (38-1) is tough. Wyalusing's Collin Edsell (36-3) and Muncy's Zach Fry (32-4) should battle for third.
138 - If McWhorter (36-1) is 100 percent, look for a finals rematch with Kent Lane (22-1). That might be a big if though, and South Williamsport's Nathan Jones (35-1) is lurking in the wings.
145 - Williamson's unbeaten Billy Barnes (36-0) should win. Muncy's Dakota Nixon (31-4) should oppose him in the final with Milton's Zach Bennett (27-7) and Bloomsburg's Sam Miller (29-4) slugging it out for third.
152 - Another final between Walter (37-2) and Southern Columbia's Blake Marks (30-4) is likely. Benton's Dominic Vitale (33-9) and Northeast Bradford's Austin Saxer (28-7) look like the next best.
160 - Milton's Ryan Preisch (34-2) and Benton's Jeric Kasunic (30-6) should meet in a district final rematch. Troy's Nick Stephani (34-4) should take third.
170 - Montoursville sophomore Garrett Hoffman (39-2) and Midd-West's Alex Lieberman (31-6) are the strongest here, with Bloomsburg's Brandon Conrad (27-4) likely to move on as well.
182 - Montgomery's Isaiah Bobotas (22-3) and Benton's Brad Miccio (30-9) in yet another district final repeat. Hughesville's Matt Herr (34-2) could reach the final with a semifinal win over Bobotas. Lake-Lehman's Brady Butler is 34-2.
195 - Canton's Garrett Wesneski (35-1) is impressive. He should hit district runnerup Womelsdorf (30-7). Towanda's Dakoatah Manning (34-10) takes third. Southern's Robert Delbo (22-13) will try to catch lightning in a bottle again.
220 - Wyalusing's Dylan Otis (37-2) and GAR's Zac Faust (36-1) should reach the final. Montoursville's Ben Cerney (35-8) and Canton's Connor Route (33-5) are also strong contenders.
285 - A month ago, no one would have bet money on Line Mountain freshman Garrett Kieffer (19-15) making it to states. He'll have a tough time reaching the final this week, but don't be surprised if he takes third to advance. Wyalusing's Dalton Chilson (39-3) and Bloomsburg's Jordan Troup (24-2) make the final.