HERSHEY — Curwensville will have a pair of wrestlers basically book-ending the PIAA Class AA Championships when action gets underway Thursday morning at the Giant Center.
Junior Blake Passarelli, making his third trip to Hershey, will hit the mats in the 113-pound bracket, while senior Steve McClure, a states newcomer, will be competing at heavyweight.
Passarelli (28-5), the Northwest Region runner-up, has yet to land on the podium yet at states and will have his work cut out to claim that elusive first medal as part of talented field at 113. The Golden Tide junior landed in the bottom part of the bracket along with three wrestlers who have won PIAA medals.
He opens the tourney against Brandywine Heights freshman Dalton Gimbor (Southeast No. 3, 37-8), with the winner likely getting returning state medalist senior Wyatt Lutz (Northeast No. 1, 36-2) of Montoursville in the quarterfinals. Lutz was third at the weight a year ago.
The bottom half of the bracket also features Mount Union senior Josh Boozel (34-3), the Southwest champ who was a state runner-up at 106 in 2017, and Wilson senior John Consorti (Southeast No. 2, 23-6) — an eighth-place finisher two years ago.
The top at 113 is headlined by returning state champ Beau Bayless (44-4), a junior from Reynolds who won his title at 106 last year after placing fourth as a freshman. Bishop McDevitt sophomore Nate Smith (Southeast No. 1, 28-1), a fifth-place finisher at 106 last year, also is in the top.
As for McClure (31-3), he is fresh off a 1-0 victory against Brookville’s Colby Whitehill in last weekend’s regional finals. The pair find themselves on different sides of a heavyweight field that features just four state returnees.
On paper, McClure fell on the better side with just two returning qualifiers, with South Side Beaver senior Bishop McCoy (Southwest No. 1, 39-1) having placed fifth at 220 a year ago. However, McCoy and McClure wouldn’t meet until the semifinals if both win out that far.
Meanwhile, McClure awaits the winner of a pigtail bout between Central Cambria senior nate martin 9Southwest No. 4, 30-8) and Skuylkill Haven senior Joey Kocher (Southeast No. 6, 30-8).
Whitehill (37-4) finds himself in the top half with a pair of returning state runner-ups in Tri-Valley senior Dan Scheib (Southeast No. 1, 34-0) and Bishop McCort senior Josiah Jones (Southwest No. 2, 31-2). Scheib was a runner-up at 285 last year, was Jones was second at 220.
Action gets underway in the Class AA Tournament Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Giant Center.