HYDE — It’s that time of the year again for high school wrestling — the individual postseason when wrestlers dreams of making a run at state medal either come true or are shattered.
And, it all gets underway Friday with the District 9 Class AA Championships at Clearfield Area High School. The two-day event shapes up to be another exciting one for wrestlers and fans alike as 39 returning state qualifiers (24 from Tri-County Area) are entered in this year’s tournament.
The top-end of those returnees are even more experienced as there 10 returning champions (7 from area) and 12 returning runner-ups (7 locals). Brookville senior Xavier Molnar is the lone two-time champion in the group.
Molnar is joined as defending champs by Raider senior teammates Caleb Hetrick and Tyler Cook, Ridgway seniors Bryce Barclay, Lukas McClain and Logen McClain, Brockway sophomore Anthony Glasl, Bradford’s Dillon Keane, Port Allegany’s Jacob Kallenborn and Coudersport’s Isaac Wright.
Interestingly, three of those champs — Hetrick, Logen McClain and Keane — are all in the 145-pound bracket, which easily makes it one of the toughest weight classes in recent memory. Hetrick and McClain are both returning state medalists.
Here is a closer look at each weight class:
The nine-man bracket features seven freshmen and two sophomores, with all but one entrant having a winning record.
Smethport sophomore Bryent Johnson (17-1) earned the top seed and is the top half of the draw with Redbank Valley freshman Trenten Rupp (18-10). Those two could meet in the semifinals.
Brookville freshman Caden Walter (22-8) highlights the bottom half at 106, which also features Johnsonburg freshman Cole Norlin (18-7) and Brockway freshman Tanner Morelli (18-10), the third and sixth seed, respectively, who will meet in the quarterfinals. The winner of thta bout could face Walter in the semis.
The field at 113 features 11 competitors, seven of whom have 17 or more wins.
Curwensville junior Blake Passareli (23-4), a two-time state qualifier, is the top seed and one of two area competitors in the top half along with Redbank junior Mason Songer (21-9), the fifth seed. Oswayo Valley senior Dylan Pesock (22-50 is the fourth seed and could face Songer in the quarterfinals.
The bottom half features four area wrestlers with that quartet all facing each other. Seventh-seeded sophomore Parker Fleming (17-15) of Brookviille faces Ridgway sophomore Gary Emerick (13-17) in a first-round matchup, while Brockway freshman Dominic Inzana (No. 3, 25-3) and Clarion junior Logan Dehner (No. 6, 19-6) square off in a quarterfinal bout.
Port Allegany junior Reese Vollmer (29-4) is the No. 2 seed.
Glasl (28-3) and Ridgway senior Kyle Bush (26-6), a runner-up last year, headline the field at 120 as the first and second seeds, respectively. They also are two of the three 20-win wrestlers in the field.
Glasl is joined in the top half by two area competitors in Johnsonburg freshman Nolan Shaffer (No. 4, 18-9) and Curwensville junior Mason Gasper (No. 5, 8-9). Those two could meet in the quarters, with the winner likely getting Glasl in the semifinal.
Bush looks to have a clear path to the semifinals, where he would get the winner of a quarterfinal bout between third-seeded Cabe Park (17-10), a junior from Brookville, and Redbank junior Brayden Altobelli (22-7), the sixth seed.
The bracket at 126 is nearly full, with 13 of the 15 AA schools having an entrant, although only eight have a winning record/
Brookville senior Kai Sorbin (24-8), who is jut four wins from 100, is the top seed and only area wrestler in the top half. Kane senior Christian Whisner (17-4) is the fourth seed.
The bottom half of the draw has five area wrestlers, with two head-to-head first-round matchups. Junior Hunter Martz (22-14), the second seed from Redbank Valley faces Curwensville sophomore Ty Guelich (2-8), while Ridgway junior Luke Tomaski (No. 7, 11-12) battles Brockway freshman Adam Stine (8-10).
Johnsonburg freshman Dalton Stahli (18-8), the six seed, will wrestle third-seeded Braedon Johnson (17-2), a freshman from Smethport, in the quarterfinals.
Barclay (26-4), a senior who won at 126 a year ago, headlines the field as the top seed at 132 and faces Brockway freshman Noah Bash (12-12) in the quarterfinals. Johnsonburg senior Devon Norlin (18-10) and Redbank sophomore Ethan Wiant (5-1), the fourth and fifth seeds, respectively, could square off in the quarterfinals.
There also are two local wrestlers in the bottom half.
Curwensville sophomore Zach Holland (No. 6, 15-3) wrestles Oswayo Valley junior Patrick Rounsviille (3-14, while Brookville sophomore Wyatt Kulick (No. 7, 9-20) faces Cranberry sophomore River Perry (6-14). Both bouts are first-round matchups.
Like his teammate Barclay, Lukas McClain (27-4) has moved up a weight class in search of his second title as the top seed at 138.
He is one of three area competitors in the top half, with the other two — Brockway junior Tino Inzana (No. 4, 18-12) and Johnsonburg freshman Cole Haight (9-10) — meeting in the first round.
The bottom half is highlighted by second-seeded David Kudrick (26-4), a senior from Coudy who wrestles Curwensville sophomore Caleb Stiles (2-7) in the first round, and Brookville senior Dontae Constable (25-5), the third seed.
Clarion freshman Cam Boggess (18-9) also is in that part of the draw.
All eyes will be on the 145-pound bracket all weekend long.
Hetrick (26-5), the defending champ at 152, earned the top seed in the field with three D-9 champs where the No. 15 seed sports an 18-9 record.
Hetrick opens against Brockway sophomore Linkin Nichols (10-16). Hetrick’s main competitors in the top half appear to be Johnsonburg freshman Cole Casilio (22-7) and Coudy senior Dustin Kudrick (24-2), the fourth and fifth seeds, respectively. Casilio opens against Redbank junior Caleb Snyder (6-18).
In the bottom half, Keane (27-1) earned the second seed, while Logen McClain (27-6) in the third seed. Keane won the 145-pound title last year, while McClain won at 138. Clarion senior Frank Weber (13-6) is also in the bottom half as the No. 7 seed.
With Hetrick dropping to 145, Kane junior Alec English (28-2) garnered the top seed at 152. The only other 20-win wrestler in the field Johnsonburg senior Jake Zimmerman (23-6), the second seed.
Brockway’s sophomore Andrew Hickman (15-12) is in the top half as the No. 4 seed and wrestles Redbank freshman Coltin Bartley (5-17) in the first round. The winner will likely face fifth-seeded Ryley McMaster (13-5), a senior from Clarion.
As for Zimmerman, he faces Ridgway sophomore Jake Wickett (13-14), with the winner getting Brookville junior Jacob Cable (No. 7, 12-15) in the quarterfinals. Curwensville freshman Jake McCracken (No. 6, 18-10) also is in the bottom half.
Kellenborn (30-1) is the headliner at 160 as the dending champ, a weight with just five wrestlers with winning records. Two of those are Johnsonburg freshman Isaac Zimmerman (18-13), and Clarion junior Nick Porciello (15-9), both of whom are in the top half with Kallenborn. Porciello wrestles Redbank freshman Noah Anderson (3-12) in the first round.
There are three local competitors in the bottom half in Curwensville junior Cole Bressler 9No. 6, 12-13). Brookville sophomore Cole Labenne (No. 7, 3-11) and Brockway junior Bryce Grecco (5-9)
Coudy senior Wright (23-5) is back to defend his crown at 170 and is the top seed.
A quartet of area wrestlers are in the top half with the Falcon. Clarion junior Cam Boggess (No. 8 17-6) and Curwensville sophomore Nick Holbert (4-11) battle for the right to face Wright in the quarters.
Johnsonburg sophomore Tyler Watts (No. 4, 22-7) and Redbank freshman Hudson Martz (11-14) also in the top half.
The bottom part of the draw features three locals. Brookville junior Braden MacBeth (21-11) is the second seed and has a bye into the quarters, while Brockway sophomore Eric Johnson (No. 3, 24-10) and Ridgway sophomore Damon Kelley (No. 6, 14-11) will battle in another quaterfinal.
Brockway junior Garrett McClintick (26-5) grabbed the top seed at 182 in search of his first district title, He faces Redbank freshman Kobe Bonanno (8-11) in the first round, with the winner likely getting Clarion senior Seth Nellis (No. 8, 11-8).
The bottom half features a first-round matchup between Brookville freshman Elliot Park (No. 6, 8-8) and Johnsonburg junior Matt Berger (8-18). Ridgway sophomore Robert Briggs (11-12) in the seventh seed and has bye into the quarters where he will likely face junior Elijay Ayers (26-5), the two seed from Coudy.
Kane sophomore Teddy Race (24-50 is the third seed.
Molnar (26-7) is back at 195 as he looks to join the ranks of three-time district champs. The Raider is one of five area wrestlers in the top half of the draw.
Molnar faces Ridgway junior Max Ehrenberger (1-10) in the first round, while Clarion senior Colt Stimmell (No. 5, 8-3) wrestles Brockway senior Pierce Yahner (0-4) in another first-round bout. The winner of the Stimmell-Yahner match gets fourth-seeded Ty Stahli (19-9) of Johnsonburg in the quarterfinals.
Redbank Valley senior Logan Minich (18-6), the third seed, is the only local entrant in the bottom half, here Keystone junior Tyler VanTassell (20-7) is the second seed.
The field at 220 is headlined by Raider senior Cook (29-5), the returning champ and top seed at the weight, and Clarion senior Tom Wusrter (23-4), the No. 2 seed.
Cook is joined in the top half by Ridgway junior Hunter Kos (12-15), a likely quarterifnal opponent, and Brockway junior Justin Smith (12-12), the fifth seed.
Wurster is one of two area wrestlers in the bottom half, with third-seeded Redbank Valley freshman Aiden Gardner (22-9) being the other. Those two appear headed for a semifinal showdown.
A new champ will be crowned at heavyweight, and it appears to be a two-horse race between Brookville sophomore Colby Whitehill (31-3) and Curwensville senior Steve McClure (25-2) who are the top two seeds, respectively. Whitehill beat McClure, 3-0, earlier this year.
There are only three other competitors in the bracket. Johnsonburg senior Zane Hodgdon (10-15) is in the top half as the No. 5 seed, while Brockway’s Hayden Thompson (No. 6, 18-10) and Ridgway freshman Jacob Kunselman (No. 7, 13-15) are both in the bottom part of the draw.