HERSHEY — The Tri-County Area had one of its better showings in recent memory over the weekend at the Class AAA Northwest Regional Tournament in Altoona and as a result eight local wrestlers are headed to Hershey with all eight looking to win their first state medal.
DuBois powered the local contingent in Altoona as the Beavers tied a school record by pushing five wrestlers through to Hersey — including a pair of freshmen regional champs in Trenton Donahue and Ed Scott.
That pair will be joined in Hershey by junior Kolby Ho and sophomore Dalton Woodrow — both of whom are making their second trip to states — along with senior Dave Henninger who is making his first trip to Chocolatetown.
St. Marys, absent from hershey since 2010, saw a pair of wrestlers — sophomores Tyler Dilley and Alec Bittler — end that drought. Dilley enters states as a regional champ after edging Woodrow, 4-2, in the 120-pound finals this past weekend.
The area’s final state qualifier is Clearfield’s Luke McGonigal, who is the elder statesman so to speak of the group even though he is just a junior. McGonigal, who won his first regional title Saturday, is making his third straight trip to states and is searching for that elusive first medal.
Donahue (36-2) and Scott (35-1) each received preliminary-round byes in the 20-man brackets at 106 and 113, respectively.
Donahue is one of seven freshmen in the 106-pound field and landed in the bottom half of the bracket. He awaits the winner of a preliminary round matchup betweem Cumberland Valley freshman Patrick DeMark (35-8) and Council Rock South sophomore Maximino Mendez (42-8).
The only other regional champ on Donahue’s side of the draw is freshman Will Betancourt (33-2) of Manheim Central, the Southcentral winner. Kiski Area sophomore Darren Miller (41-3) also is in that part of the draw, with either of those two being potential semifinal opponents for Donahue of they made it that far in the winners’ bracket.
The top half at 106 features the only two returning state qualifiers in Downingtown West junior Doug Zapf (41-2), the Southeast champ, and Cocalico junior Josiah Gehr (25-4). Those two could meet in the quarterfinals, with the winner pontentially facing Norwin freshman Kurtis Phipps (33-3), the Southwest champ, in the semis.
Scott is in the top half at 113 and faces either Plymouth-Whitemarsh junior Marco DiBattista (27-4) or Belle vernon senior Jacob Dunlap (38-5) in his first match.
The winner of that contest will have a quarterfinal showdown agianst either Northeast champ Sean Pierson (23-5) of Nazareth or Spring Grove junior Dalton Rohrbaugh (31-3), the Southcentral runnerup. Rohrbaugh placed third in Hershey last year.
The top half aslo features returning state runnerup Louis Newell (38-4) of Seneca Valley, who lost last week in the regional finals, and Southeast champ Matt Wilde of Boyertown — a returning state qualifier who sports a 43-3 record. Those two could meet in the quarterfinals.
The bottom of the draw at 113 features a pair of returning medalists in Spring-Ford junior Brandon Meredith (34-6) and Central Mountain senior Geo Barzona (37-3) and a returning qualifier in Stroudsburg sophomore Cameron Enriquez (31-2). Meredith was fourth last year, while Barzona — who Scott beat 6-5 Saturday in the regional finals — is a two-time sixth-place finisher.
North Hills freshman Sam Hillegass (39-0), who beat Newell in the Southwest Regional finals over the weekend, also in the bottom half of the draw.
The 120-pound bracket is filled with state returnees — 11 to be exact — with Woodrow being one of those.
Woodrow landed in the bottom half of the draw coming of the loss to Dilley and drew a tough preliminary-round matchup against Central Dauphin junior Chris Wright (42-4), a two-time state medalist who was fourth last year.
The winner of that bout will likely face returning state runnerup Matt Parker (33-2) of Pennridge, the Southeast champ who was fifth two years ago. However, Parker could face another returning medalist in the first round in Bethlehem Catholic junior Zach Glenn (28-6), who was fifth last year.
The bottom at 120 also features two-time medalist Luke Werner (33-5), a senior from Bethlehem Liberty who was fifth last year, and Hempfield Area senior Vincent Distefanis (31-3), an eighth-place finisher in 2016.
Dilley landed in a less state-experienced portion in the top half at 120. The Dutchmen opens against Council Rock North senior Aidan Burke (15-7), with the winner potentially getting three-time state qualifier Zurich Storm (33-1) of New Oxford in the quarterfinals.
Defending state champ Julian Chlebove (33-1), a sophomore from Northampton, sits at the very top of the bracket at 120.
Ho (34-3), a state qualifier two years ago as a freshman, finds himself in a deep field at 132 that features 11 wrestlers who were in Hershey a year ago. The Beaver finds himself in the bottom half and faces Lower Dauphin freshman TT Elhajj (30-5) in the first round.
The winner of that contest will most likely face a returning placewinner in the quarterfinals — either Council Rock South senior Zack Trampe (34-1) or Penn-Trafford junior Jobe Chishko (37-6). Trampe was sixth a year ago and a runner-up as a sophomore. Chishko, a three-time qualifier, placed seventh in 2016.
The top half at 132 is headlined by Altoona senior Cole Manley (21-0), a two-time medalist who was third last year and second as a sophomore, and returning state runnerup James Hoffman (40-2), a senior from Hazleton. Manley beat Ho, 9-5, in the regional finals Saturday.
At 138, Bittler drew an extremely tough first-round matchup as he faces three-time placewinner Dan Moran (35-7), a senior from Northhampton. Moran was second as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore and fifth a year ago.
The winner will most likely face Upper Darby senior Colin Cronin (35-1), the Southeast champ who placed fourth a year ago. Hempfield Area junior Luke Kemerer (34-2), a returning third-place finisher, also is in the bottom half.
The top at 138 is headlined by Nazareth junior Sammy Sasso (35-0), the Northeast champ, and Bald Eagle Area junior Seth Koleno (31-3), the Northwest champion. Sasso was third at states last year and second as a freshman, while Koleno placed seventh in 2016.
McGonigal finds himself in a 170-pound bracket that features eight returning state qualifiers but just one medalist — defending state champ Mike Labriola (40-0), a senior from Bethlehem Catholic. The good news for the Bison is that Labriola is on the opposite side of the draw, meaning the two wouldn’t meet until the state finals if they each won out.
McGonigal is in the bottom half and faces the winner of a preliminary bout between Solanco junior Ben Root (37-7) and North Allegheny senior Sean Hoover (17-4).
The other returning qualifiers in the bottom half are Wilson (West Lawn) senior Tom O’Brien (30-5), Albert Gallatin junior Tim Wallace (35-2), the Southwest champ, and Northampton senior Cade Moisey (27-5). Those three will have to battle each other to see who could pontentially face McGonigal in the semifinals.
Labriola is the cream of the crop in the top half of the bracket, which has a trio of other state qualifiers in it, including Southeast Regional champ David Cox ()37-2), a senior from Oxford Area.
At 195, Henninger (34-11) landed in the top half of the draw and squares off against Hazleton senior Carson Kinney (34-9) in the first round. The victor of that bout will most likely see defending state champ Jake Woodley (36-2) of North Allegheny in the quarterfinals.
Woodley is the lone state returnee in in the top half, while the bottom at 195 features six returning qualifiers, including a pair of medalists in Upper St. Clair senior Eli Grape (34-3) and Waynesburg Central senior Colin McCracken (37-5). Grape has placed eighth twice, while McCracken was seventh a year ago.
The PIAA Class AAA Championships get underway Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Giant Center in Hershey.