ALTOONA — When the Class AAA Northwest Regional Wrestling Tournament kicks off this evening, two dozen area wrestlers will hit the mats at Altoona High School with the hopes of advancing the PIAA Championships in Hershey next week.
The local contingent has a nice mix of young talent making their regional debuts and veteran wrestlers who have been to Altoona in the past. However, only a handful of those wrestlers have experienced the feeling of landing on the podium at the Altoona Fieldhouse.
A pair of sophomores — DuBois’ Kolby Ho and Clearfield’s Luke McGonigal — finished third last year at their respective weights to qualify for states as freshmen. Clearfield senior Travis Ogden and St. Marys senior Kyle Pecht each finished fourth as juniors and missed a trip to Hershey by one win.
The quartet returns to lead the local group in Altoona, along with DuBois’ Dalton Woodrow (113) and St. Marys’ Tyler Dilley (106) — two talented freshmen coming off winning their first district titles last weekend. McGonigal (170) and Ogden (195) join the freshmen duo as District 4/9 champs at their respective weights, along with DuBois’ Brock Adams (138), St. Marys’ Cameron Resch (132), and Christian Steffan (182) and Clearfield’s Nate Lash (285).
Dilley (26-1) is one of the favorites at 106 and landed in the top of the bracket, where he received a bye into the quarterfinals and awaits the winner of match between Mifflin County’s Christian Fischer (D-6 2nd, 18-13) and General McLane’s Andrew Brest (D-10 4th, 18-12). The District 10 champ Jeffrey Boyd (19-8), another freshman, is also in the top half and could face Dilley in the semifinals.
Clearfield sophomore Matt Ryan (D-4/9 2nd, 22-16), a regional returnee, is in the bottom half at 106 and wrestles Cathedral Prep’s Brady Sittinger (D-10 3rd, 25-4) in the quarterfinals. Sittinger placed fourth at 106 last year in Altoona.
The winner of Ryan’s bout could face another returnee in D-8 champ Jamil Prude (21-7) of Allderdice in the quarterfinals, with returning 106-pound runner-up Geo Barzona (D-6 1st, 28-2) looming in the semifinals.
At 113, Woodrow and Clearfield’s Jude Pallo both landed in the bottom half of the bracket.
Woodrow (30-5) drew Titusville’s Chris Wig (D-10 3rd, 22-12), a regional returnee, in the opening round, with the winner getting either D-10 runner-up Jacob Frankhouser (18-14) or Altoona’s Curtis Dukes (14-15) in the quarterfinals.
Pallo (19-18) faces a returnee in Bellefonte’s Shafiq Blake (D-6 2nd, 21-10) in the opening round, with the winner getting D-8 champ Cheron Payne (16-10) of Allderdice in the quarters.
The top half features D-6 champ Adam Stover (15-8) and D-10 champ Tyler McKinney (25-3), both of whom competed in Altoona last year. Woodrow blanked Stover, 4-0 earlier this year.
Ho (28-5) is part of a deep field at 120 that features 10 returning qualifiers — five of which placed in the Top 4 last year. Ho, who was third at 106 last year, is in the bottom half of the draw with two other placewinners.
Ho, the only local wrestler at the weight, opens against Bald Eagle Area’s Clayton Giedroc (D-6 4th, 13-14), with the winner likely getting D-10 champ Brandon Sauers (25-7) of Cathedral Prep in the quarterfinals. Sauers was fourth at 120 a year ago. Mifflin County’s Noah Myers (13-8), the D-6 champ who was third at 120 in 2015, also is in the bottom half.
The top half could see a battle of returning placewinners in the quarters, as D-4/9 champ Hunter Zondory (30-2) awaits the winner between Altoona’s Hunter Hileman (D-6 3rd, 24-11) and McDowell’s Leno Ciotti (D-10 2nd, 23-7). Zondory beat Hileman, 10-2, in the third-place match at 113 last year.
The area’s lone entrant at 126 is Clearfield’s Hunter Blake (D-4/9 3rd, 21-13), who squares off against Carrick’s Matt O’Connor (D-8 2nd, 18-12) in the first round in the top half of the bracket. The winner gets D-10 champ Brett Mallory (22-12) of General McLane in the quarterfinals.
Altoona’s Cole Manley (D-6 1st, 21-1), who won at 106 last year, also is in the top half at 120, while the bottom features District 4/9 champ Nick Gittens (28-2) of Shikellamy, BEA’s Garrett Rigg (D-6 2nd, 24-5) and Allderdice’s Jared Prude (D-8 1st, 26-8). Gittens was fourth at 126 in 2015.
Resch (21-12) got a tough draw in top half at 132 as a district champ. The Dutchman has a bye into the quarters, where he will face either McDowell’s Carmen Ciotti (D-10 2nd, 25-6) or Central Mountain’s Logan Long (D-6 4th, 21-14). Ciotti won a regional crown at 113 last year.
Another returning champ, BEA’s Seth Koleno (D-6 1st, 23-5), is also in the top half with Resch and Ciotti.
Clearfield’s Josiah McClarren is in the bottom of the bracket at 132 and faces State College’s Zachary Price (7-12) in the opening round, with the winner getting D-10 champ Ta’Nauz Gregory (12-2) of Cathedral Prep. Gregory placed third at 132 last year.
DuBois’ Adams (13-4) and St. Marys’ Garret Cook (D-4/9 3rd, 18-15) are both in the field at 138 and on opposite sides of the draw.
Adams is in the bottom half and awaits the winner of McLane’s Hunter Hendricks (D-10 2nd, 14-6) and Bradford’s Dillon Keane (D-4/9 4th, 18-9) in the quarterfinals. Hendricks placed third at 126 a year ago.
Also in the bottom are D-8 champ Juan Rodriguez (24-8) and D-6 runner-up Dalton Long (23-10), who could meet in the quarterfinals. Long was fourth at 132 in 2015.
Cook is in the top part of the bracket and battles Westinghouse’s Kiyamee Johnson (D-8 2nd, 8-12) in the opening round, with the victor getting D-10 champ Carter Starocci (22-4) in the quarters. Altoona’s Jerrell Kephart (17-7), the D-6 champ, also is in the top half.
The area has just one competitor at 145 in Clearfield’s Tallin Norris (D-4/9 4th, 20-19), who faces McLane’s Briggs Twitchell (D-10 2nd, 30-6) in a battle of regional returnees in the top half of the bracket. The winner wrestles Bellefonte’s Brock Port (D-6 1st, 31-1) in the quarterfinals. Port was a runner-up at 132 last year.
Pecht (D-4/9 3rd, 26-9), along with DuBois’ Carson Hanna (D-4/9 2nd, 26-5), are in the field at 152 and both local competitors are in the bottom half of the draw.
Hanna, a regional returnee, faces Central Mountain’s Tanner Weaver (D-6 4th, 21-15) in the first round, with the winner getting either Carrick’s Justice Jones (D-8 1st, 18-12) or Prep’s Alijandro Linan (D-10 3rd, 12-8) in the quarterfinals.
Pecht has a first-round date with McLane’s Owen Watkins (D-10 2nd, 17-4), with D-6 champ Hayden Hidlay (33-1) of Mifflin County waiting in the quarterfinals. Hidlay won a regional crown at 145 last year.
The area’s two entrants at 160 — St. Marys’ Brandon Cherry and Clearfield’s Hunter Wright — are on opposite sides of the bracket along with returning regional champs.
Cherry (D 4/9 3rd, 11-15) wrestles Westinghouse’s Tyree Carlins (D-8 2nd, 11-13) in the first round, with the winner facing Mifflin County’s Trent Hidlay (D-6 1st, 34-2) in the quarterfinals. Hidlay was a regional champ at 138 last year. Jersey Shore’s Haydn Swartwood (D-4/9 2nd, 29-2), who was third at 152 a season ago, also is in the top half.
Wright (D-4/9 4th, 11-14) squares off against Prep’s Luigi Yates (D-10 2nd, 25-5) in the opening round in the bottom half. District 8 champ Cory Dees (16-11) awaits in the quarterfinals, with the winner of that bout most likely facing Punxsutawney’s Kaleb Young (D-4/9 1st, 29-0) in the semifinals. Young won a regional title at 152 in 2015.
McGonigal (34-2) is the lone area wrestler at 170 and has a bye into the quarters where he will wrestle either Altoona’s Parker McClellan (D-6 2nd, 24-10) or Prep’s Kyle Carter (D-10 4th, 8-14). With a win, McGonigal could potentially see D-10 champ Ethan Laird (31-3) of General McLane in the semifinals. McGonigal was third at 145 last year, while Laird was third at 170.
The bottom half at 170 is highlighted by D-6 champ Noah Stewart (32-3) of Mifflin County and McDowell’s Ryan Dailey (20-11), the D-10 runner-up. Stewart won a title at 160 a year ago, while Dailey was fourth at 170.
At 182, Steffan (D-4/9 1st, 29-5) and Clearfield’s Levi Wisor (D-4/9 4th, 22-15) are both in the top part of the draw.
Steffan awaits the winner of a first-round bout between Prep’s Mike Hughes (D-10 2nd, 26-5) and Central Mountain’s Greg Stahl (D-6 4th, 12-10). Wisor faces D-6 champ Brandon Wilson (23-9) of Mifflin County in the first round.
Ogden (34-1) and St. Marys’ Mitchell Cashmer (D-4/9 2nd, 20-10) are part of a loaded bracket at 195, with Ogden being one of five wrestlers who placed in the Top 4 last year.
Ogden is in the top of the bracket and has a first-round bout with McDowell’s Michael Kurelowech (D-10 4th, 11-13), with the winner likely to face State College’s Cory Dreibelbis (D-6 3rd, 24-4) in the quarterfinals. Dreibelbis was a runner-up at 195 last year and beat Ogden, 12-11, in the semis.
Whoever comes out of that part of the draw has a potential semifinal bout against D-10 champ Ian Malesiewski (19-3) or D-6 runner-up Isaac Porter (25-6) of Central Mountain. Porter was second at 182 last year.
Cashmer is in the bottom half at 195 and faces Bellefonte’s Max Mondy (D-6 4th, 12-12) in the first round, with D-8 champ Jesus Flores (12-15) of Brashear waiting in the quarters.
The bottom also features D-6 champ Trey Hartsock (29-4) of Mifflin County and D-10 runner-up Derek Reagle (18-10) of Warren, who cpuld meet in the quarterfinals. Hartsock won the 195-pound crown last year, while Reagle was fourth at 182.
At 220, St. Marys’ DJ Salinas (D-4/9 3rd, 26-10) and Clearfield’s Hunter Bumbarger (D-4/9 4th, 13-11) finds themselves on different sides of the bracket.
Salinas is in the bottom half and wrestles D-8 champ Cary Knight (20-7) of Carrick in the first round. The winner gets either Jersey Shore’s Max Mason (D-4/9 2nd, 22-7) or Central Mountain’s Hunter Weaver (D-6 3rd, 30-4) in the quarterfinals. District 10 champ Phil Selker (19-2) of Cathedral Prep is also in the bottom half.
Bumbarger faces D-6 champ Noah Worley (19-7) of Hollidaysburg in the first round in the top half. A potential quarterfinal in the top could pit Selinsgrove’s Drew Boob (D-4/9 1st, 25-2) vs. Meadville’s Ben Bish (D-10 2nd, 25-6). Boob is the defending 220-pound champ, while Bish was second at 285.
Both area wrestlers at heavyweight — Clearfield’s Nate Lash and St. Marys’ Ray Kline — are each in the top half of the bracket.
Lash (27-12), the D-4/9 champ, will battle Central Mountain’s Bryce Bitner (D-6 4th, 23-13) in the first round. The winner will most likely face Meadville’s Nick Morelli (D-10 3rd, 25-8) in the quarterfinals.
Kline (D-4/9 4th, 3-4) faces McLane’s Jacob Lenhardt (D-10 2nd, 24-9) in the opening round, with the victor getting returning 285-pound champ Josh Fye (D-6 1st, 25-0) of BEA in the quarterfinals.
The major battle in the bottom could come in the quarters between D-10 champ Kawuan DeBoe (28-4) of Cathedral Prep and Hollidaysburg’s Hunter Gill (D-6 2nd, 21-9). DeBoe is a freshman, while Gill a junior, was fourth at 285 a year ago.
Wrestling gets underway today at 5 p.m. at Altoona. Action resumes Saturday at 11 a.m. with the finals and consolation finals set for 6:15 p.m.