JOHNSTOWN — Corey Hazel pinned his way into the semifinals at 170 pounds, while Penns Valley teammate Curtis Decker staved off elimination in the 120-pound bracket on Friday, giving the Rams two remaining wrestlers heading into Saturday’s action at the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.
Hazel, the District 6 champion, came off his first-round bye by pinning Chartiers-Houston’s Derek Hull in 3:46. Hazel will face Northern Bedford’s Lucas Kolinchak — the District 5 runner-up — in today’s semifinal round.
Decker’s day started with a 10-1 major decision over Kittanning’s Brody Trumbull in the preliminary round. After losing a tight 4-2 decision to Derry Area’s George Phillippi in the quarterfinals, Decker rallied to defeat Richland’s Stephen Rouser 8-2 to stave off elimination.
“Highs and lows like always at regionals,” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said. “You don’t want anybody to lose, but it’s tough competition here. It was a nice win for Corey against a good opponent.”
At 152, Penns Valley’s Seth Decker fell to Highlands’ Nolan Wise 6-4 in a preliminary-round bout. After pinning Jefferson-Morgan’s Trevor Kniha in 2:17, Decker’s tournament ended at the hands of Berlin Brothersvalley’s Taylor Cahill, who won by 7-2 decision. West Greene’s Dalton Wildman edged the Rams’ Jason Thoms in their 182-pound preliminary bout. Thomas recovered to pin Yough’s Clay Waldron in 1:13, before he fell to Huntingdon’s Matt Norris in a second-round consolation.
“The path is never easy,” Brinker said. “You either go through the winner’s bracket or the consolation brackets to get to Hershey. A lot of wrestling to be done yet, we just need to go one match at a time.”
The semifinal round opens Saturday’s competition at 11 a.m.