HYDE — The Brookville wrestling team once again dominated the dual-meet portion of the season, capturing its sixth straight District 9 Class AA team tournament title on its way to a fourth-place finish in Hershey.
With the focus shifted to the individual postseason, the Raiders are now in search of their sixth straight team crown at the District 9 Class AA Championships this weekend at Clearfield High School.
However, the Raiders appear to have their hands full on paper if they are to collect that sixth straight title in the individual tourney. Brookville, along with Brockway, Port Allegany and Kane, each garnered three top seeds.
Brockway sports three of the seven returning champions in senior Garrett McClintick and juniors Anthony Glasl and Eric Johnson. Glasl is the lone two-time champ in this year’s field.
Brookville (Colby Whitehill), Port Alleganhy (Bryent Johnson) and Kane (Alec English) each have one returning champ, with the seventh being Curwensville’s Blake Passarelli.
Ultimately, depth and placewinners will likely decide which team comes out with the team title in what shapes up to be one of, if not the smallest, Class AA fields since the two classification system started in the mid-1970s.
The 13 AA schools in D-9 are sending just 134 wrestlers to compete at Clearfield this weekend. That equates to an average of just over 10 competitors per school, with 73.6 percent of the possible 182 entrant spots filled
While that overall number might seem small, District 9 Wrestling Chairman Randy Cathcart said the district’s percentage of total spots filled is actually one of the best in the state when compared to other districts.
The lower numbers are partially due to the fact Bradford is back in Class AAA — with Cranberry moving up with them after co-oping with Oil City. Two other teams have also gone by the wayside with Smethport merging with Port Allegany and Keystone co-oping with Clarion. Both the Gators and Bobcats stayed AA despite those additions.
Brookville and Redbank are the lone teams in the tournament who have the full compliment of 14 wrestlers competing this weekend.
Redbank, which has one top seed, has nine wrestlers seeded in the Top 4 — the most of any team. Brookville, Brockway and Kane each have eight wrestlers seeded fourth or better, while Port Allegany has seven.
That depth at the top should make for some exciting wrestling Saturday, with the team title decided by which school has its wrestlers live up to the high seeds or exceed lower seeds.
Action gets underway Friday at 4:30 p.m. and again at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The finals and consolation finals are slated for 4 p.m. Saturday.
Here is a closer look at each weight class:
The eight-man bracket features seven freshmen and eight competitors with a winning record.
The lone upperclassmen in the bracket is Port’s Johnson (19-4), who garnered just a second seed despite being one of seven returning champs. Brookville freshman Owen Reinsel (27-3) is the top seed, having pinned Johnson in 1:36 in the finals at district duals.
Reinsel is in the top half and wrestles Sheffield’s Gavin Fehlman (11-10) in the quarterfinals. The other quarter on that side is fourth-seeded Ridge Cook (20-8) of Redbank Valley vs. Kane’s Gavin Bechakas (17-8).
Johnson squares off against Curwensville’s Jacob Carfley (14-9) in the quarters, with the winner getting either third-seeded Mark Palmer (25-7) of Brockway or sixth-seeded Derek Peterson (18-11) of Johnsonburg in the semifinals.
The 113-pound bracket is the smallest in this year’s tourney, with just five wrestlers competing. Port senior Reese Vollmer (24-2) is the top seed and has a bye into the semifinals, where he faces the winner of a quarterfinal between Kane’s Dillon Illerbrun (17-10) and Coudersport’s Ben Cornish (7-10).
In the bottom half, Redbank’s Trenten Rupp (19-8) and Brookville’s Cayden Walter (23-7) — the second and third seeds, respectively — have byes into a semifinal matchup.
Rupp beat Walter, 4-2, earlier this year, while Walter suffered a 5-2 loss to Vollmer in the district duals final. Vollmer neat Rupp, 13-5, at district duals.
The eight-man field at 120 features five 20-win wrestlers, led by top seed Braedon Johnson (28-1), a sophomore from Port Allegany. Johnson faces Brookville’s Josh Popson (9-15) in the quarterfinals, with fourth-seeded Logan Dehner (19-7) of Clarion being a likely semifinal opponent for the Gator.
The bottom half features three local wrestlers, including a quarterfinal showdown between Redbank’s second-seeded Brayden Altobelli (23-6) and Johnsonburg’s Cole Norlin (22-8). Brockway’s Dominic Inzana (20-4), the third seed, takes on Kane’s Harley Morris (20-9) in another quarterfinal.
Inzana handed Johnson his lone loss of the season, 2-1, back on Dec. 13 but lost to Altobelli, 8-5, Jan. 15.
The 126-pound is easily the toughest on paper on this year’s tourney as it features two returning champs — Glasl (28-1) and Passarelli (22-5) — and three returning state qualifiers in Glasl, Passarelli and Redbank’s Mason Songer (27-3).
Glasl, who beat Passarelli 8-2 last week in the regular season finale, is the top seed while Passarelli and seeded second and third, respectively. Passarelli and Songer haven’t met this season.
Glasl is in the top half along with fourth-seeded Parker Fleming (10-16) of Brookville. Those two could meet in the semifinals.
Songer opens against Ridgway’s Gary Emerick (16-11), with Passarelli most likely waiting in the semifinals for the Bulldog.
The field at 132 is one of the largest this year with 11 wrestlers and is led by Redbank Valley junior Ethan Wiant (28-6), who beat out Brookville senior Cabe Park (12-5) for the top seed on the strength of a 5-4 victory against the Raider this season.
Wiant faces Coudy’s Dylan Kelly (10-14) in the quarterfinals and will likley face either fourth-seeded Eli Petruzzi (25-7) of Port Allegany or fifth-seeded Garret Park (14-12) of Brockway in the semifinals.
Park wrestles Clarion’s Colton Zacherl (10-12) in the quarterfinals, while there is a pair of first-round bouts in the bottom half. Third-seeded Nolan Shaffer (24-8) battles Oswayo’s Gage Aldrich (8-15), wile sixth-seeded Cooper Traister of Sheffield takes on Ridgway’s Luke Tomaski (9-14).
Kane senior Noah Blankenship (23-6), the top seed, is the lone 20-win wrestler in the field at 138. Three local wrestlers are in the top half with Blankenship, with fourth-seeded Dalton Stahli (12-3) of Johnsonburg battling Curwensville’s Adam Straw (8-16) in the first round. The winner gets Brookville’s Wyatt Kulik (17-12), the fifth seed, in the quarterfinals.
Brockway’s Tino Inzana (15-9) finds himself in the bottom half as the No. 2 seed and faces Coudy’s Wyatt Morales (3-11) in the first round. The winner gets either Sheffield’s Kevin Marfink (11-11) or Ridgway’s Tyler Merritt (8-10) in the quarters.
Third-seeded Hunter Martz (5-5) of Redbank Valley wrestles Port’s Montgomery Tanner (16-12) in the other quarterfinal in the bottom half.
The field at 145 is headlined by top seed Issac Smoker (23-4) of Port Allegany and Oswayo Valley’s Colton Gietler (21-8), the second seed.
Johnsonburg’s Camron Marciniak (14-3), the No. 4 seed, is in the top half with Smoker and faces either Brookville’s Cody Hetrick (10-14) or Cameron County’s Ethan Fields (4-1) in the quarterfinals.
In the bottom half, Gietler awaits the winner of a first-round bout between Redbank’s Dalton Bish (13-7) and Brockway’s Conner Ryckman (3-9). Curwensville junior Zach Holland (2-0), who recently returned from injury, is the third seed and wrestles Sheffield’s Jacob Dishon (10-10) in the quarters.
The bracket at 152 is just one short of a full 13-man field and is led by top-seeded Cole Casilio (30-2) of Johnsonburg. The Ram sophomore faces Curwensville’s Duane Brady (13-13) in the first round, with the winner getting Coudy’s Logan Rogers (9-12) in the quarterfinals.
Jacob Cable (16-12), the fourth seed, also has a bye into the quarters and waits for the winner of a bout between Ridgway’s Jake Wickett (10-10) and Oswayo’s Michael Hewitt (3-21).
The area has three entrants in the bottom half of the draw.
Clarion sophomore Cutter Boggess (19-8), the third seed, faces Port’s Isaak Baumgarner (6-9) in the first round, with the winner getting either Brockway’s Linkin Nichols (10-11) or Sheffield’s Landon Mead (6-18) in the quarters.
Redbank senior Caleb Snyder (13-13) has a bye into the quarters where he battles second-seeded Aiden Hulings (23-3) of Kane.
Kane’s English (25-1) headlines the field at 160 and is a prohibitive favorite to reach the finals. He faces Clarion’s Donavan Edmonds (14-11) in the first round, while fourth-seeded Cole Bressler (13-9) of Curwensville is a potential semifinal opponent.
The bottom half of the draw is loaded with local competitors, led by second-seeded Noah Bash (23-7) of Brockway and third-seeded Isaac Zimmerman (24-7) of Johnsonburg. The two appear on a collision course in the semifinals, but Bash must get past seventh seeded Wyatt Griffin (14-13) of Brookville in the quarterfinals. Bash beat Griffin, 4-2, during the year.
Bash also owns a 6-2 win against Zimmerman this year and lost 7-2 to English.
The field at 170 features four 20-win wrestlers – a group led by top seed Elliot Park (20-10) of Brookville and Johnsonburg’s Tyler Watts (24-5), the second seed. Park pinned Watts in 3:16 during the season.
Park looks to have an easy path to the semifinals in the top half, where he is likely to face fourth-seeded Ethan Finch (23-8) of Sheffield.
Watts awaits the winner of a first-round bout between Curwensville’s Jake McCracken (15-11) and Coudy’s Dylan Hajzus (5-13). The other quarter in the bottom half has third-seeded Cameron Whisner (22-7) wrestling Brockway’s Andrew Hickman (16-15).
Watts owns eight wins over wrestlers in the bracket, while Park has four.
McClintick is the clear-cut favorite at 182 and is one of just two 20-win wrestlers in the field.
The Rover senior wrestles Coudy’s Matthew Fleniken (3-5) in the quarters, with the winner facing either Port’s Dalton Distrola (16-13) or Johnsonburg’s Christian Krug (10-14) in the semifinals.
The bottom half of the draw has an interesting quarterfinal matchup between third-seeded Hudson Martz (21-8) of Redbank valley and Brookville’s Braden MacBeth (19-10) the sixth seed. Martz beat MacBeth, 10-6, back in early January.
The winner of that matchup will likely face Kane’s Teddy Race (15-3), the No. 2 seed, in the semifinals.
Brockway’s Johnson (25-6) headlines an 11-man field at 195 as the top seed and awaits the winner of a first-round bout between Brookville’s Nathan Taylor (17-10) and Cameron’s Devin Geitner (7-13).
Redbank sophomore Aiden Gardner (27-2), the fourth seed, is a potential semifinal opponent for whoever comes out of Johnson’s part of the draw.
The bottom half appears to be a two-man battle between Coudy’s Elijah Ayers (25-2) and Port’s Justin Young (28-3), the second and third seed, respectively. A wild card could be Clarion senior Tyler VanTassel (2-1), the sixth seed who recently returned to the lineup. He was a three-time regional qualifier for Keystone.
The field at 220 features nine competitors, only four of which have 12 or more wins.
The top half of the bracket shapes up to be a battle between top-seeded Ty Stahli (22-6) and Coudy’s fourth-seeded Cale Ayers (20-8) in the semifinals.
It appears to be more of the same in the bottom half, where the two highest seeds — second-seeded Tanner LaBenne (18-9) and third-seeded Justin Smith (11-6) — look to have clear paths to the semis.
At heavyweight, there is Brookville’s Whitehill (29-0) then everybody else.
Whitehill’s 29 victories is nine more than the other three wrestlers in the top half of the bracket have combined.
In the bottom half, Sheffield’s Nick Knowles (23-4) is the second seed and looks to have a a semifinal bout against either Redbank Valley’s Kobe Bonanno (12-7) or Brockway’s Hayden Thompson (14-8). Bonanno edged Thompson, 2-1, during the teams’ dual meet Jan. 15.