JOHNSTOWN — Since the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling program started its junior high division in 2014, Brookville hadn’t medaled any of its wrestlers at the state tournament.
Last weekend at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Brookville got its first two medalists with Bryce Rafferty capturing the 187-pound title and Brayden Kunselman finishing sixth at 107 pounds.
Rafferty capped off his 5-0 run in a 41-wrestler bracket on Sunday with a 3-0 decision over East Stroudsburg’s Sean Kinney. He pinned Tyrone’s Jason Barr in the semifinals, decisioned Belle Vernon’s Ryan Hamer 5-2 in the quarterfinals and on Saturday, he started with a 4-2 decision over Scranton’s Sean Cordaro and a 14-5 major against Selinsgrove’s Steven Miller.
Rafferty won the 210-pound title at the D9 Invite in Brockway before capturing the PAJW Area 5 crown to earn a trip to states. For the year counting his junior high season, the Raiders freshman finished 26-0.
Kunselman won his first three bouts to reach the semifinals, thus clinching a top-six medal finish. He pinned West Perry’s Nolen Zeigler, decisioned Gabriel Ruggieri of Connellsville 7-1 and edged Chestnut Ridge’s Calan Bollman 6-5 before dropping a 9-4 decision to eventual runner-up Tommy Link of Upper Darby.
In the consolations, Kunselman lost to Hickory’s Connor Saylor (2-1) and was pinned by Central Dauphin’s Jakob Gilfoil to finish sixth.
Kunselman finished the year 24-5.
Also for Brookville at states, Jackson Zimmerman finished 3-2 at 157 pounds and Porter Kahle was 2-2 at 212 pounds.
Seven other District 9 junior high wrestlers won top-eight medal finishes. Johnsonburg’s Aiden Zimmerman was third at 147 while teammate Kaden Dennis finished fourth at 140. Brockway had a trio of medalists in Gavin Thompson’s fifth at 252, Weston Pisarchick’s seventh at 77 and Seth Stewart’s eighth at 157. St. Marys’ Alex Lukaschunis finished fourth at 187 and DuBois’ Austin Mitchell was fifth at 124.
The PAJW Youth State Championships are March 16-17 at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh. Brookville has four wrestlers headed to the tournament with Cole Householder (100 pounds) and Easton Belfiore (125) in the 11-and-12-year-old division, Cody Householder (55) in the 8-and-under division and Palynn Lindermuth in the girls’ 8-and-under 100-pound division.