By Dan Walk
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.”
Cards send three to semis
The Cardinals had four wrestlers in the semifinals of last year’s Tool City tournament — Robert Boozer, Matt Bryer, Austin Andrews and Cam Cyphert. Bryer graduated. But the remaining three are back in the round of four this season.
Cyphert, a defending Tool City champion, was to face Saegertown’s John Macken in the first round at 220 pounds. But the Panthers moved Macken to heavyweight, meaning Cyphert would have just one bout on Friday. He passed it with flying colors, earning a technical fall in 5:07 over Boiling Springs’ Calvin Barrick.
“We tried to get him to expand his offense a little bit, trying to get some takedowns.” Cochranton head coach John Svirbly said. “I just think he couldn’t get anything in tight enough on that kid. That kid was really flexible.”
Boozer scored a takedown in the first period during a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Prep’s Teagan O’Sullivan. Meanwhile, Andrews trailed quarterfinal opponent Kyle Rogers of McDowell 4-1 after one frame before charging back to notch a pin in 5:04 .
“He gave up one takedown at the edge of the mat and gave up another takedown with a silly — I don’t even know what that was,” Svirbly said. “It was huge for him not to give up and to keep pushing the pace. He eventually got a takedown to tie it up and got that cradle real tight. It’s good to see him keep battling even after he gives up some points.”
More from Crawford County
Meadville, Conneaut and Titusville each have one wrestler in the semifinals. For the Bulldogs, it’s senior Zach Luben, who gathered a 4-0 decision in the opening round and a fall in 4:13 in the quarterfinals at 138 pounds.
“I thought Zach wrestled a real good tournament so far,” Meadville head coach Barry Anderson said. “He had two real good matches that he pretty much dictated the tempo on his feet, on top and on bottom. He was battling in every position. In a tournament like this, you can’t give your opponent anything and you have to take points where they are.”
There was some pushing and shoving between Luben and Cochranton’s Brad Carlini, who is from Meadville, in the quarterfinals. It even brought the ire of some Meadville fans. But Luben persevered.
“It was an aggressive match,” Anderson said. “There was some pushing and that’s wrestling. But in the end, Zach kept his cool and ended up scoring where he needed to and won the match.”
Conneaut’s Taylor Ellis is in the semifinals after two pins (one in 1:41 and the other in 22 seconds) and will face Boozer in the semifinals. Ellis beat Boozer via a 7-2 decision last season.
“We’ve wrestled before,” Conneaut head coach Tom Courtney said about Ellis and Boozer. “That match could go either way. We just have to be ready to go. We beat him once last year, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
Titusville’s Ehrin Lee recorded a technical fall in 4:14 in the first round and worked a 3-1 decision over a tough Ossie Bowers of General McLane in the quarterfinals in what could be a District 10 Class AAA championship preview at 160 pounds.
Tournament continues today
The final day of the Tool City tournament commences today at 8:30 a.m. with consolation matches. The championship semifinals will follow.
The parade of champions is schedule for 5 p.m., while the finals are set for 5:30.