HERSHEY — Brookville has enjoyed a strong run a the Class AA Northwest Regional Wrestling Tournament in recent years, but the event took its toll on the squad this year with just three Raiders fighting there way through to states.
A new weekend brings a new outlook and a fresh start, and that trio of seniors Caleb Hetrick and Dontae Constable and sophomore Colby Whitehill all have their rights set on bring home some state hardware.
Hetrick (32-5) is the states veteran of the group as he is making his fourth trip to the Giant Center. The Raider placed eighth as a sophomore and seventh last year — both at 152 — and finds himself in a stacked 145-pound weight class this year.
At the district level alone, 145 featured three returning D-9 champs. One of those, Hetrick and Ridgway senior Logem McClain made it to states.
As for this weekend, Hetrick, and the rest of the field, has has their work cut out to win a PIAA medal. Hetrick is one seven returning medalists — and one of 12 state returnees overall — in the 20-man bracket.
Hetrick is in the bottom part of the draw and awaits the winner of a pigtail match between Berlin senior Austin Lee (Southwest No. 4, 37-7) and Saucon Valley sophomore Thomas Spirk (Southeast No. 5). A win by Hetrick could earn him a quarterfinal bout with returning qualifier D.J. Erickson (Northeast No. 2, 31-5), a junior from Hanover.
The other side in the bottom has a trio of strong wrestlers in Boiling Springs junior Kollin Myers (Southeast No. 2, 40-2),Slippery Rock senior Michael Doerflinger (Northwest No. 4, 28-7) and South Side Beaver senior Joe Demor (Southwest No. 1, 41-1)
Myers, who was a runner-up two years ago, was fifth at 126 in 2017, while Doerflinger was sixth at 138. Demor is a returning qualifier.
The top half at 145 features a quartet of returning medalists in McClain (33-8), Palisades junior Nathan Haubert (Southeast No. 1, 27-3), Southmoreland senior Tyler Griffiths (Southwest No. 3, 22-6), Pequea valley junior Gabe Miller (Southeast No. 4, 38-3).
Griffiths is a four-time qualifier and two-time medalist who was second at 132 last year.
As for Constable (Northwest No. 4, 29-8), he is one of two area wrestlers in the 138-pound bracket — with he and Ridgway senior Lukas McClain (Northwest No. 2, 32-5) landing on opposite sides.
Constable is in the top half and has a pigtail bout against Juniate senior Tyler Feltman (Southwest No. 6, 32-14), with the winner getting Southeast champ Tyler Martin (31-6), a sophomore from Bishop McDevitt, in the first round.
The headliner in the top half is Reynolds senior Cole Matthews (Northwest No. 1, 43-2), three-time state medalist who has placed first, third and second, respectively, since his freshman year.
McClain is one of seven returning qualifiers in the bottom half of the draw at 138, with Southwest champ Caleb Dowling (34-1), a sophomore from St. Joseph’s Academy, being the lone returning medalist of that group. He was fourth as a freshman at 132.
Whitehill (37-4), who lost 1-0 to Curwensville’s Steve McClure in last weekend regional finals, is making his first trip to states — as is McClure.
The local duo find themselves on different sides of a heavyweight field that features just four state returnees. However, Whitehill fell on the side with two returning state runner-ups.
The Raider faces Valley junior David Schuffert (Southwest No. 3, 34-4) in the first round, with the victory most likely earning a quarterfinal matchup with Southeast champ Dan Scheib (34-0), a senior from Tri-Valley. Scheib is a two-time medalist who was second at heavyweight last year.
Also in the top half with that group is Bishop McCort senior Josiah Jones (Southwest No. 2, 31-2), a two-time runner-up (220 last year), and Northeast champ John Fulmer (44-6), a senior from Southern Columbia.
McClure (Northwest No. 1, 31-3) is in the bottom half, where South Side Beaver senior Bishop McCoy (39-1), the Southwest champ, is the lone returning medalist. McCoy was fifth at 220 a year ago.
The PIAA Class AA Championships get underway Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at the Giant Center,