HERSHEY — Brookville is taking its smallest contingent in recent memory to the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships, but the duo of junior Colby Whitehill and freshman Owen Reinsel look to put in a full weekend of work at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Whitehill (35-0), who placed eight at 285 pounds last year in his first state tourney, makes the trek to Hershey this year as the lone undefeated competitor at heayweight while being ranked second in the state in the most recent papowerwrestling.com rankings.
White, the Northwest Regional champ, awaits the winner of pigtail bout in the bottom half of the draw between Midd-West senior Owen Zechman (25-7, Northeast-4th) and Burgettstown junior Riley Kemper (35-8, Southwest-5th).
Outside Whitehill, there are six returning state qualifiers on his side of bracket and nine overall. However, one of the newcomers — Meyersdale sophomore Jalen Stephens (36-4, Southwest-3rd) — is ranked third in the state and is a potential quarterfinal opponent for the Raider.
Fourth-ranked Kole Winfield (30-4, Southwest-2nd) of Southern Huntingdon also is on Whitehill’s side, as is Southern Columbia junior Lear Quinton (40-6), the Northeast champ. Whitehill pinned Quinton in the first period at team states.
The top half at heavyweight has just four state returnees — a group led by Mount Union junior Jake Ryan (36-1), the Southwest champ. Ryan, who placed fourth last year, is ranked first in the state.
Ryan’s lone loss was a 4-1 ultimate tiebreaker decision to Class AAA state qualifier Raymond Christas (38-2) of Dallastown.
As for Reinsel (32-4), he has enjoyed a breakout freshman campaign at 106 pounds in a Brookville singlet.
Reinsel, who entered last weekend ranked 12th in the state, finds himself in the bottom part of the bracket where he faces Littlestown sophomore Connor Brown (30-5, Southeast-3rd).
The winner gets Southwest champ Joey Fischer (35-0), a sophomore from South Park, in the quarterfinals. Fischer is one of two state returnees in the bottom along with Troy junior Sheldon Seymour (32-0), the Northeast champ who placed fourth a year ago. Seymour is ranked second in the state, while Fischer is fifth.
Two of the top four ranked wrestlers are in the top half, with defending state champ Gary Steen (35-1, Northwest-1st) of Reynolds and Pope John Paul II’s Matt Vulakh (24-9, Southeast-4th) possibly meeting in the first round. Vulakh placed eighth last year.
Third-ranked Levi Haines (37-0, Southeast-1st) of Biglerville and sixth-ranked Kai Burkett (32-4, Southwest-2nd) of Chestnut Ridge also are in the top half along with Brockway freshman Mark Palmer (32-10, Northwest-4th).
The PIAA Class AA Championships get underway Thursday at 9 a.m.