Centre County opened the District 6 Class AA wrestling tournament with 18 wrestlers looking for a spot in the Southwest Regionals next weekend.
As the first day came to a close on Friday inside Altoona High School’s Fieldhouse, Penns Valley and St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy combined to have eight wrestlers lock up their regional spots.
The Rams had five wrestlers reach the semifinals in Baylor Shunk (106 pounds), Darren Yearick (120), Clayton Royer (126), Jared Hurd (145) and Abraham Allebach (160).
Before the second session began, Penns Valley had nine wrestlers in the championship bracket. It now has six wrestlers still alive in the consolations.
“We thought we could sneak a couple of those other ones through,” Rams coach Joel Brinker said. “It was going to be tough. I’m pleased. We have five and a whole lot of wrestling yet to go, a lot of guys still in it. We will focus on the positives and get some wins.”
Three of the Wolves’ six wrestlers have reached the semifinals — including Jacob Powers (120), Caleb Dowling (132) and Evan Courts (138).
Last year, Powers was the lone qualifier. They also have two others alive in the consolations.
“Pretty good,” St. Joseph’s coach Pat Flynn said about his feelings for the day. “We got three going to regionals. Right now, its just a matter of advancing. These guys have been training hard. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”
Yearick and Powers will square off in the semifinals. They each pinned their way there. Yearick wrestled a total of 2:04 with Powers coming in at three minutes exactly.
The pair faced off in the 113-pound finals last year with Yearick winning the crown.
Earlier in the day, Penns Valley rattled off nine pins to tie Huntingdon for the team lead.
Hurd pinned his way to the semifinals as the top seed. He will face Central’s Ethan Kennedy.
Shunk opened his tournament with a fall and then used an 8-1 decision in the quarterfinals to meet Bishop McCort’s Kaden Cassidy. Royer had a fall in 56 seconds and used a late reversal and back points in an 11-9 win in the quarterfinals.
Allebach started his day with a pin in 1:13. In the quarterfinals, he used a 7-1 decision to match up with Huntingdon’s Seth Baney.
Carter Felker (138), Andrew Sharer (152), Hunter Homan (182), Corey Rimmey (195), Dillon Covalt (220) and Jared Bressler (285) will have to wrestle their way back Saturday.
“I feel good,” Brinker said about the final day of wrestling. “I think we’ll get some more through. I’m pretty confident all of our guys here are going to wrestle hard (Saturday) so that’s what I’m excited for. This team is all year showed up and wrestled as hard as they can, that’s all we can ask for.”
Dowling, who is the No. 2 seed, opened the day with a pin in 3:50. He then edged West Branch’s Dylan Confer 8-7 to reach the semifinals.
Courts came out firing, scoring 18 points in his first-round win. In the quarterfinals, he earned a 9-2 win to set up a semifinals match with PIAA 126-pound runner-up in Central Cambria’s Max Murin. Murin, who is an Iowa commit, tech falled Penns Valley’s Carter Felker 21-5 in 3:01 to make the semifinals.
Ethan Kauffman (106) and Julian Simmons (126) remained alive for St. Joseph’s in the consolations.
“It’s exciting,” Flynn said. “I can’t express enough how hard they work. They left weights two days a week and train six days a week. They train on their own when I’m not there. We got to keep rocking. We are young and I’m excited.”