By Frank Foreman
For some of the 26 local District 10 wrestlers who took part in Day 1 of the Class AA Northwest Regional tournament, it’s hard not to have one eye on the mat and the other looking a little ahead to Hershey.
With the top three wrestlers in each weight class punching a ticket to states, positioning yourself well heading into today’s second day of the tournament is crucial for every wrestler. A slew of local grapplers did just that Friday at Sharon High School, setting up a tremendous finish to the finale today.
Finding the most success as far as teams are concerned was Reynolds, which holds the top spot after Day 1 with 45 points, followed by Brookville (35 points) and Fort LeBoeuf (30). Greenville sits in fourth place with 23 points, while Redbank Valley rounds out the top five schools with 20 points.
Saegertown had a strong day and totaled 18 points to place sixth, Jamestown sits ninth overall with 11 points, while Conneaut and Jamestown are tied with 10 points and sit at ninth place. Cambridge Springs and Maplewood are tied with six points for 13th.
Eagles soar on Day 1
Conneaut brought four wrestlers to regionals, with seniors Kyle Lukowich and Connor Overman sitting pretty after the first day of competition, both one win away from a trip to states.
Lukowich took on Kane’s Darren Brown in the 132-pound quarterfinals and picked up an 8-4 decision over the senior. Lukowich was in complete control before surrendering three points to make it match.
But as he has done all year long, Lukowich found a way to settle things down and pull out the four-point decision.
Perhaps the bigger story from Conneaut’s day comes at 220 pounds, where Overman avenged not one, not two but three previous losses to Clarion’s Zach Sintobin to earn a 3-1 decision in the quarterfinals.
Overman, a first-year wrestler, continues to impress this season, and his work ethic and drive to succeed isn’t lost on Conneaut head coach Carmen Russo.
“For a first-year wrestler to be one match away from states is fantastic,” Russo said. “He’s learning day by day, and constantly wants to do film sessions. I’m just so proud of him for just making it here. What he’s doing in his first year is tremendous.”
Russo added that Overman’s instant success isn’t something you see every day, in fact, not even every year.
“He’s a rare person,” Russo said of Overman. “A person like that comes around every 20 or 30 years. He’s physically gifted and mentally he’s so smart, and he’s putting it all together. He wants to be the best and doesn’t want to settle for anything less than that. I’m proud of where he his and how far he’s come.”
At 145 pounds, Taylor Ellis was pinned by Redbank Valley’s Mitch Blose in 5:19, while heavyweight Brian Lipps defeated Cochranton’s Evan Miller in the preliminary round before being pinned by Redbank Valley’s Ben Carillo.
Muskies get it done
Good things happened to Jamestown Friday, as top-seeded Faris Messai at 113 pounds beat Hickory’s Justin Walter in an 8-3 decision to move to the semifinals. Not to be outdone, senior Jason Shappee took care of Redbank Valley’s Cal Haines in a 7-4 decision to also move on to the semis today, putting a pair of Muskies in a good spot to get to Hershey.
“I was really happy to see Faris open up and beat Walter,” Jamestown head coach Steve Pfaff said. “He went after him like he has been doing the last couple of weeks, and he was strong and won the match. He looked positive, and hopefully that keeps up for tomorrow.”
Shappee looked sharp as well, taking out a strong competitor in Haines.
“Haines was the No. 1 wrestler in the region all winter long,” Pfaff said. “We watched some film on him and put plans together last night, and he went to town and worked it. Jason did very well.”
At 182 pounds, Mohamed Messai won his preliminary round match against Northwestern’s Kyle Panko in style with a 16-8 major decision, but ran into Cranberry’s Zachery Bruce in the quarterfinals. There, Bruce picked up the 10-2 major decision.
Joining Mohamed Messai in the consolation bracket is 106-pounder Hunter Goodlin, who dropped his preliminary bout to Corry’s Nate Munsee 5-3.
Panthers place four in semifinals
Out of the seven wrestlers the Saegertown wrestling team brought to regionals, four of them advanced to today’s semifinal round, led by 182-pounder Dylan Reynolds.
Reynolds had little trouble in his opening bout in the quarterfinals, pinning Sharon’s Beau Dignall in 3:08.
Fellow Panther Nick Monico, a sophomore wrestling at 138 pounds, did a job on Redbank Valley’s Luke Gallo, winning the bout with a 7-0 decision. Other Saegertown wins came from Bingbong Elizon at 120 pounds and Tyler Vath at 132 pounds, both of which sit one win away from states.
Elizon earned a 4-2 decision over Kane’s Jon Gelsick, while Vath knocked off Greenville’s Blake Reynolds with a 5-2 decision.
Matt Humes (145 pounds), Garrett Zuver (152) and Lance Neuscheler (160) all dropped their matches Friday.
Breese, Spence lead Lakeview
Lakeview senior Sam Breese continued his trek for a state title repeat at 285 pounds with a convincing victory over Keystone’s Tyler Beal. Breese pinned Beal in 2:28 and will face Fort LeBoeuf’s Nate Conti in the semifinals.
While Marquis Spence didn’t pin his way to victory, the junior grappler sure did look sharp while beating Port Allegany’s Ethan Budd with an 8-3 decision.
Boozer highlights Cochranton’s day
Though senior Brad Carlini and junior Evan Miller dropped their matches at 170 and 285 pounds, respectively, senior Robert Boozer took care of business at 152 pounds Friday night.
Boozer earned a major decision victory over Eisenhower’s Louie Head, 10-2, to remain in the top half of the bracket. Boozer faces Fort LeBoeuf’s Brad Malinowski in the semifinals, where the Bison is coming off an 8-0 major decision win of his own.
Carlini dropped his preliminary bout to North East’s Jordan Bryan, while Miller fell to Conneaut’s Lipps in a 4-3 decision.
Stafford rolls for Blue Devils
At 195 pounds, Cambridge Springs sophomore Zach Stafford looked impressive during his pin over Redbank Valley’s Brylee Shumaker in 1:00. Stafford advanced to the semifinals with the win, where he will face Fort LeBoeuf’s Garrett Reinwald.
Not as successful as Stafford was teammate Colton Noble. Noble dropped his preliminary bout against Reynolds’ Kegan Miller in a 5-1 decision.
Tomcho finds success for UC
Union City junior Dustin Tomcho did his job in the preliminary round when he pinned Sheffield’s Brian Fries in overtime at 6:58. Tomcho was unable to ride the momentum any further, as he was defeated by Fort LeBoeuf’s George McGuire in an 8-0 major decision.
Dustin Weilacher was unable to find success in the preliminary round, falling to North East’s Logan Gray via a 15-0 technical fall at 4:07.
’Wood struggles in quarterfinals
Both Jeremy Parsons (152 pounds) and Jacob Parsons (170) won their preliminary bouts on Friday, but couldn’t find a win in the quarterfinals.
Jeremy Parsons earned a 6-0 decision over Saegertown’s Zuver before falling to Brookville’s Brodie Zacherl.
Jacob Parsons defeated Keystone’s Zach Stiglitz win a pin at 4:54 before losing to Franklin’s Dakota Geer in an 8-1 decision.
Isaiah Stearns struggled in his opening bout in the preliminary round, losing to Clarion’s Alexander Burkhart in a major decision, 12-4.
Action resumes today at 9 a.m. with the semifinals, followed by the first round consolation bouts.