HERSHEY —The Brookville Raiders enjoyed a near perfect first day Thursday at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships as they not only look to bring home a handful of medals but also their second team title of the year on the mats in Hershey.
Brookville saw its District 9 record-tying seven state qualifiers combined to go 7-2 with four bonus-point victories on the day. Five of the six Raiders who had regular first-round bouts — Keelan Kunselman (106), Gavin Park (120), Tate Ortz (132), Cole Aaron (138) and Caleb Hetrick (152) — won to reach this morning’s quarterfinals.
Fellow Raiders Noah Cieleski and Tyler Cook both went 1-1 Thursday to keep their dreams alive of landing on the podium come Saturday.
Brookville’s big opening day as them sitting atop the team standings with 28.5 points. Huntingdon (25.5) sits second, followed by Boiling Springs (24.5), Chestnut Ridge (22) and Reynolds (20.5).
“I think we were 7-2 on the day, and you can’t really complain with that picking up some bonus points along the way,” said Brookville coach Dave Klepfer. “We gave two in the conseys. Cookie is two wins away from a medal now and Noah one, and the rest of those guys just have to bring the same ‘A’ game (today) and hopefully put a couple or even all five in the semis.
“The kids know what’s at stake. We’ve talked a lot about coming down here and trying to bring home another trophy. They’re wrestling with intent to score bonus points, and that’s what we’ve preached all year long.
“And, the have kind of carried that into this tournament, so we’re hoping we can just keep the ball rolling. We’re wrestling well right now.”
Kunselman (28-11), a junior, made his individual states debut a memorable one with a 7-2 win over Montoursville sophomore Wyatt Lutz (40-11) in their 106-pound first-round bout.
The Raider opened the scoring with a first-period takedown, then the pair traded reversals in the second with Kunselman escaping at the end for a 5-2 lead after two periods. Kunselman added two backpoints in the third to come away with the five-point victory.
Kunselman faces returning state runner-up Aaron Burkett (38-3) of Chestnut Ridge in the quarterfinals.
Park (21-2) reached the quarterfinals with a 5-2 win over Notre Dame-GP freshman Ritchie Markulics (32-7). Park scored the opening takedown in the first period, only to see Markulics escape to make it 2-1.
The Raider junior then rode Markulics the entire second period before putting the match away with an escape and takedown in the third.
Next up for Park is Boiling Springs freshman Kollin Myers (43-6).
Ortz (41-0) was dominant in his first-round bout, scoring a 15-0 technical fall over Northern Lebanon junior Trevor Leonard (43-10) in 2:08.
The Raider senior hit a quick five-point move in the first period, then put Leonard on his back three more times for a 13-0 lead after one. Leonard then chose top in the second, and Ortz reversed him eight seconds in to end the match.
Aaron (35-5) drew Westmont-Hilltop sophomore Carnell Andrew (34-6) in a battle of returning state qualifiers in his first-round bout at 138. And, it was the Raider who put together an impressive six minutes in coming away with an 8-0 major decision.
Aaron used a takedown and three backpoints in the first period to seize control of the match. The senior tacked on an escape in the second and takedown with 24 seconds left in the third to earn bonus points for the team.
The Raider squares off against Northeast Region champ Zackery LeBarron (39-0), a four-tie qualifier, in the quarterfinals.
Hetrick (29-9) continued his late-season push with another strong performance Thursday, using a second-period reversal to edge Delone Catholic junior Brian Shermeyer (34-9), 2-1.
Shermeyer scored his lone point on a third-period escape, but Hetrick held him off on his feet to reach the quarterfinals, where he wrestles Jeannette junior Gio Vonne Sanders (28-6). Sanders, who was sixth at 145 last year, notched a 3-2 win over Northeast champ Zach Fry of Hughesville to hand Fry (30-1) his first loss of the season.
Cieleski (33-7) found the going tough in his 182-pound opener against Lewisburg sophomore Andrew Shedleski (37-5). Shedleski jumped out to an 8-1 lead, which proved to be too much for Cieleski to overcome.
The Raider took down and then put Shedleski on his back in the third period, but a reversal by Shedleski helped seal an 11-5 victory.
Cieleski bounced back from the loss in a big way as he built a 10-0 lead on Chartiers-Houston senior Dominic Provenzano (27-13) before recording a fall in 4:29. Cieleski posted a reversal and two sets of backpoints in the second period to seize control of the match.
Cook, making his states debut along with Kunselman and Cieleski, opened his weekend with a bang with a convincing 16-4 major decision over returning state qualifier Julian Wismer (29-13) of Notre Dame-GP in a pigtail bout at 220.
Cook (30-12) scored two takedowns in the opening period for a 4-1 lead, then added another takedown in the second to go up 6-2. The Raider then poured it on in the third with an escape, three takedowns and a set of backpoints to earn bonus points for Brookville.
The win set up a showdown with Southwest champ Josiah Jones (32-5), a sophomore from Westmont-Hilltop. Jones grabbed the advantage with a first-period takedown and led 2-1 after one period. The pair then traded escapes in the second and third periods, with Jones coming out of that sequence with a 3-2 lead.
And, that’s how things finished up as Cook was unable to get in deep on Jones in the third period to score the takedown he needed for the win.
Cook, who got a bye in the first consolation round, wrestles Saucon Valley junior Devin Fontanez (41-8) in today’s second round of consolations.