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High School Wrestling

WPIAL Wrestlers Find Success at Super Regionals; The Field for Hershey is Officially set

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Even though it was harder to punch a ticket to Hershey this year, the WPIAL and its wrestlers proved they were up to the task. At Super Regionals, the last qualifying event prior to the individual state tournament, the WPIAL came away with 14 champions (five in Class-2A and nine in Class-3A) and advanced many wrestlers to the PIAA championships March 13 at Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Making it to the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania has never been harder. In 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PIAA decided that from a health and safety standpoint, it would be wiser to have single-day postseason events and smaller overall participant fields. With that, eight wrestlers per weight class would be invited to Hershey for the state tournament later this month as opposed to the traditional 20 competitors per class.

Here are some takeaways from the inaugural Class-2A and Class-3A Super Regional tournaments.

Class-3A

The PIAA Class 3A West Super Regional at Altoona High School, March 6th, in Altoona, Pennsylvania was owned by the WPIAL. District 7 saw nine of 13 crowns claimed by WPIAL schools.

Franklin Regional junior Finn Solomon and Hempfield senior heavyweight Isaiah Vance were the headliners of the event, both delivering statement individual showings.

Solomon had a dominating 12-1 victory against a very talented Waynesburg junior  in Cole Homet in the 138-pound final. Vance was equally impressive with a 7-2 dismantling of Selinsgrove senior Nate Schon, who was ranked No. 1 in the state by PaPowerWrestling.com.

Solomon avenges his loss to Homet, 4-2, in the Class AAA WPIAL/PIAA Southwest Regional on Feb. 27. The pair could see one another again in Hershey later this month.

The back half of the 13 finals matchups (145-285) featured a star-studded cast of WPIAL talent.

The WPIAL picked up four more titles in the afternoon session (145 to 285). Norwin senior John Altieri (145), Seneca Valley senior Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (152), Pine-Richland senior Cole Spencer (160) and Vance all took home titles.

Altieri won the 145-pound title after he was slammed by Waynesburg senior Wyatt Henson, who was attempting an double-leg takedown. Altieri landed on his head and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, according to Paul Schofield of the Tribune-Review.

Quite impressively, the Seneca Valley Raiders brought home three individual championships thanks to the efforts of senior Herrera-Rondon (152) was awarded a win by default against Waynesburg sophomore Rocco Welsh at 152. Welsh had a lower-body injury, according to Waynesburg coach Joe Throckmorton and the Tribune-Review. Tyler (106) and Dylan (132) Chappell brought home a title each for Seneca Valley as well. This same three were all 2021 WPIAL champs at their respective weights this season.

The Chappell brothers had two close matches. Tyler used a late takedown to defeat Solanco senior Dom Flatt, 3-1, and Dylan survived a late comeback from Hempfield junior Briar Priest for a 7-6 win. The myriad of Chappell versus Priest matchups we have seen this year have all been fun.

Also, Franklin Regional’s Carter Dibert He defeated Central Mountain freshman Luke Simcox, 4-2, to win at 126. Cole Spencer of Pine Richland looked strong in his 10-3 victory in the finals over Bellefonte’s Ethan Richner. At 120 pounds, Mac Church edged out a close 4-3 decision over a previously undefeated Karl Shindledecker of Chambersburg.

Class-2A

Five wrestlers claimed PIAA Class 2A West Super Region titles on March 6th at IUP’s Kovalchick Complex. Frazier freshman phenom Rune Lawrence took home the 172-pound title. Alongside Lawrence, South Park senior Joey Fischer (126), Laurel sophomore Grant Mackay (152), Burrell senior A.J. Corrado (160), and Mount Pleasant junior Dayton Pitzer (215) also took home gold medals.

Most impressive in this group was probably Pitzer. The Mount Pleasant big man was  2019 PIAA champion at 182 pounds as a freshman. Then, Pitzer missed all of his sophomore season with an injury, but has returned with a vengeance. The Vikings junior has 30 pins on the season and 58 for his career. He now extends his pin streak to 16 in contested matches by pinning all three of his opponents this weekend. The last two falls of his day came in under a minute.

Laurel’s Mackay (37-3) wrestled like a man possessed, with a pin in the quarterfinals followed by a 5-0 decision in the semifinals and a 17-6 major decision against North Star’s Connor Yoder in the 152-pound final.

For Lawrence, his finals match against Penns Valley senior Malachi Duvall started off in a very similar fashion to when the duo met once  last weekend in  PIAA Class 2A Southwest Regional tournament. In both matches, the freshman came out on top. Once again, Lawrence fell into an early hole, only to dig himself out for a thrilling come-from-behind win, 9-4 in overtime. With the three wins this weekend, Lawrence is now 27-1 on the year.

Future Clarion grappler, South Park’s Joey Fischer (21-0) had a 7-3 decision in the semifinals and a 3-0 win against Hickory’s Connor Saylor in the 126-pound final to keep rolling into his final PIAA tournament. After finishing fourth at states as a sophomore and second last year, Fischer is amidst his best PIAA postseason run of his prep career.

Burrell’s Corrado (31-0) needed overtime to win both his semifinal and championship match, but he outlasted Johnsonburg’s Cole Casilio for a 3-2 decision in the ultimate tiebreaker period in the 160-pound final. As a team, the Burrell Bucs took first in the team race with 56 points, four ahead of second-place Reynolds.

Please click here to see all of the brackets, lists of placewinners, and match-by-match results, including the 13 finals matches in both 2A and 3A. You can also find the list of state qualifiers here as well.

Looking ahead, there will PIAA 2A and PIAA 3A state tournaments in Hershey, Pennsylvania at the Giant Center on Friday, March 12th (2A) and Saturday, March 13th (3A) to cap off the 2021 PIAA individual postseason.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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