January 5, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
General McLane hadn’t had much success at the Tool City Wrestling Tournament. But after one day of the annual event’s 34th edition, the Lancers are in quite the position to change that.
McLane has six in the championship quarterfinals and 13 of its 14 grapplers are still alive. Such an accomplished first day has the Lancers sitting in second place with 84 points — just a half point behind leader Fort LeBoeuf (84 1/2).
The Lancers have never won a Tool City team title. Their last individual champion was Hadley Harrison in 2006. And last year, all three finalists lost their championship bouts.
Joe Wheeling (106 pounds), Mike Sutton (152), Tyler Hendricks (170), Chris Laird (182), Alex Thayer (195) and Jake Baker (220) are all set for today’s semifinals and hope to rewrite history for GM wrestling at Tool City.
“I really have a lot of respect for this tournament,” General McLane head coach Ryan Cook said. “I don’t think McLane’s ever won it. It’s one of our goals that we want to get up to.
“We have six going in the championship brackets, but there’s a lot to be scored in the wrestlebacks. All those guys have to wake up early in the morning, get down here and get after it.”
Fort LeBoeuf, a late entrant in the tournament, had the most impressive day of all, sending seven to the semifinals. The Bison were unable to attend a tournament over the holidays and were added as the 17th Tool City team on Dec. 26.
Boiling Springs is in third place with 80 1/2 points. The Bubblers led for most of the first day thanks to semifinal berths at 113, 120 and 126 pounds.
Following Boiling Springs in fourth place is reigning champion McDowell with 76 1/2 points. Then there’s DuBois with 75 and Greenville with 70.
Panthers have 13 survive
Saegertown is Crawford County’s No. 1 team through the initial day of the Tool City. The Panthers have all 13 grapplers still wrestling, including five in the semifinals.
The Panthers were strong in the lower weights, led by sophomores Devin Brown at 106 and Tyler Vath at 113. Brown used four minutes of mat time to collect a pair of falls, while Vath eked out a 6-4 decision over Thomas Jefferson’s Nick Burkett before pinning Greenville’s Joey Safner in just 34 seconds.
Freshman Nick Monico at 126, junior Matt Humes at 138 and sophomore Dylan Reynolds (182) each registered decision victories in the quarterfinals to advance to today’s final four in their respective weight classes.
“Hey, five in the semis means five guaranteed placed,” Saegertown head coach Jim Mulligan said. “That’s more than we had last year. I’m excited. I told the kids that if we’re going to compete for this, it’s going to come in the consys. We didn’t wrestle our best tonight in some spots, but our team shows heart. That’s what we expect as a coaching staff.”
Mulligan was most impressed with Dylan Reynolds, who knocked off top-seeded Justin Reynolds of Greenville by a 5-2 decision.
“That’s probably the best match I’ve ever seen him wrestle,” Mulligan said about Saegertown’s Reynolds. “He took probably 30 shots. He needs to start finishing them.”
Two Panthers have very talented foes in the semifinals. Vath faces Cathedral Prep’s Jake Gromacki, who earned a Class AAA state medal last season. And Nick Monico has Warren’s DJ Fehlman, who Monico beat 2-0 in last year’s Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling state tournament.
“We have some real tough semis,” Mulligan said. “It’s a big match (for Vath). We’ve never beaten Gromacki. I think he’s beaten us five or six times.”