The 2019 Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling (PJW) Junior High State Championships were held March 2-3 at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown, and the Tri-County Area was well represented as 10 competitors brought home medals with Top 8 finishes.
That local contingent was led by Brookville’s Bryce Lafferty, who was the area’s lone PJW state champ this year — capturing the gold medal at 187 pounds. Rafferty was one of two medalists for Brookville as Brayden Kunselman (107) placed sixth at his respective weight class.
DuBois had one medalist in Austin Mitchell (5th, 124), while Brockway had three wrestlers land on the PJW podium in Gavin Thompson (5th, 252), West Pisarchick (7th, 77) and Seth Stewart (8th, 157).
St. Marys had a pair of medalists in Waylon Wehler (2nd, 157) and Alex Lukaschunis (4th, 187), as did Johnsonburg in Kaden Dennis (3rd, 140) and Aiden Zimmerman (3rd, 147).
Rafferty put together a 5-0 weekend on his way to striking gold in a 41-man bracket at 187 pounds. He won three of those five bouts by three points or less. The Raider notched his lone pin in the semifinals, decking Tyrone’s Jason Barr in 40 seconds. That quick fall put him in he finals, where he beat East Stroudsburg’s Sean Kinney, 3-0.
Kunselman won his first three bouts to guarantee himself a medal at 107 only to drop his final three matches to come away with his sixth-place medal.
Mitchell led the DuBois delegation at states and won his first four bouts to reach the 124-pound semifinals, where he lost a heartbreaking 8-7 decision to Kiski Area’s Mark Gray, who went on to place second. The Beaver was then pinned in his consolation semifinal bout but bounced back to pin Central York’s Macon Myers in 3:46 in their fifth-place match.
Mitchell, who finished the year with 30 wins, was one of six Beavers to compete at states. The others were Gage Sonnie (0-2, 92), Davey Aughenbaugh (1-2, 107), Braden Roy (1-2, 187), Zack Gallagher (3-2, 212) and AJ Nicastro (2-2, 252). Gallagher fell won win short of capturing a medal.
Thompson captured Brockway’s best medal at states with his fifth-place showing at 252 pounds. He recorded three straight pins to reach the semifinals before he was pinned in 1:03 by eventual gold medalist Dale Moehring of McKeepsort.
Thompson was then pinned in his consolation semifinal bout but bounced back to beat Trinity’s Wyatt Horne, 7-3, for fifth.
Pisarchick went 4-2 on his way to placing seventh at 77 pounds, beating Seneca Valley’s Connor Smith, 4-0, in their place match. As for Stewart, he made an impressive run through the 157-pound consy bracket — winning five straight bouts after losing 8-1 in the round of 32 to Canon-McMillan’s Matthew Furman who went on to place third
His run came to an end with a 6-2 setback to Plum’s Frank Macioce in the consy quarterfinals. Macioce went on to place sixth. Stewart’s tourney concluded with another 6-2 loss, this one to Connellsville’s George Shultz in the seventh-place match.
Wehler dominated his way to the 157-pound finals, pinning three of the four opponents he beat. He reached the finals with a 7-2 win against Central Mountain’s Damien Galentine in the semifinals, but eventually lost in the finals the same way he made it there — by fall.
And, it was Southern Columbia’s Wesley Barnes who pinned Wehler in 42 seconds for the gold medal.
Teammate Lukaschunis went 6-2 with four falls on his way to a fourth-place finish at 187. He recorded back-to-back pins of 28 and 43 seconds in the consolation quarterfinals and semifinals before falling 3-0 in the third-place bout to Bell vernon’s Ryanm Hamer.
Dennis and Zimmerman went a combined 11-2 in bringing home a pair of bronze medals to Johnsonburg.
Dennis, who went 5-1, reached the semifinals at 140 before dropping an 11-1 major decision to eventual state champ Jake Jones of Saucon Valley. Dennis beat Pennridge’s Ryan Gallagher, 8-1, in the third-place bout.
Zimmerman, who went 6-1 overall, won four straight in the consolation bracket to capture his bronze after being pinned in the 147-pound quarterfinals by eventual runner-up Sonny Sasso of Nazareth. Zimmerman recorded two falls in the consy bracket before besting Daniel Boone’s Tucker Hogan, 4-0, for third place.