Last season was considered a down campaign for Centre County’s wrestling teams, especially given the history of the area.
None of the area’s teams won a District 6 title. Just two area wrestlers won Regional titles — Penns Valley’s Corey Hazel and Bellefonte’s Trevor Corl.
Only eight County wrestlers advanced to the PIAA Championships and only one — Hazel who placed fifth — advanced past the quarterfinals.
While those numbers might have been way lower than years past, that doesn’t mean the area coaches aren’t ready for a resurgence this fall. Several area teams are looking to making an impact in Hershey.
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Bald Eagle Area returns five District 6 Class AAA placewinners and three regional qualifiers.
Heavyweight Josh Fye was 26-10 last season as a sophomore last season and was the lone BEA representative in the PIAA Tournament. He is already off to a hot start, winning the title at the Top Hat Tournament in Williamsport.
“It’s the same every year,” Eagles coach Steve Millward said. “Our expectations are high on this group of kids. The mission is to finish strong — regardless.
Millward likes what he sees so far. His team placed eighth at the Top Hat. Seth Koleno (126) and Clint McCaslin (145) had third-place finishes in the event.
“My early assessment is that this is a competitive that up to now have been willing to work and train to become better wrestlers, and that’s not an easy task.”
,” Millward said. “Staying positive and managing each portion of the season will be essential for individuals and the team to have a successful year. With the right attitude, it should be a fun season.”
Bellefonte coach Mike Maney returns one of the area’s more experience group with 11 lettermen back.
Two of those advanced to the PIAA Tournament last season. Corl, a senior, went 32-5 at 132 last season and is now just 19 wins away from the 100-win plateau. He has three District 6 crowns. Brock Port had an excellent freshman season with a 32-6 mark, a District 6 title and a third-place finish in the Northwest Regionals. Four more Red Raiders were regional qualifiers. Senior Luke Leathers has 69 career victories.
Maney said the strength of the team comes at the lightweights, with Aaron Witherite, Chase Gardner, Zach Musser, Nate Rosenberger, Dillon Kephart, Corl, Port and Leathers bringing experience.
“The keys for the team’s success will be spreading the wrestlers out to get into the right weight classes, staying healthy, and strong leadership,” Maney said. “... There is a lot of potential for the team, however, potential is the key word. The team will need to stay healthy and the team will need strong leadership to set high expectations in the practice room and continue to set high expectations for themselves during the season to reach individual and team goals.”
Penns Valley placed fifth in the District 6 Class AA Tournament and returns two heavy hitters.
Hazel is back off of his fifth-place finish in Hershey. Curtis Decker also went to Hershey, going 1-2. He finished the season 35-9 at 120.
Coach Joel Brinker returns 11 lettermen and expects improvement from last winter.
“We’re excited to see the returning lettermen continue to improve while getting the underclassmen up to speed,” Brinker said. “We believe we can have a better season than last season. The wrestlers are working hard to reach their individual goals as well as their team goals.”
Philipsburg-Osceola returns six lettermen that qualified for the Northwest Regionals. Levi Hughes (126 last season), Dakota Weitosh (132) and Nick Patrick (160) each placed third in District 6, while Bryce Bennett (106) and Logan Day (285) was fourth.
The Mounties opened the season by placing third in the it annual Mountaineer Tournament. Seth Roach (113), Bennett (126) and Weitosh (138) won their weight classes.
“We should have a lot of competition for spots in the middle weights, but are very inexperienced in the lightweights and heavyweights,” P-O coach Tim McCamley said. “It may take a little time to get to the right weights. We have options to field many different lineups with experienced wrestlers. I don’t like moving wrestlers around, but that may be necessary this year. ... We could have some individuals do very well in the postseason.”
State College will be looking to rebuild.
Anthony Myers, the returning District 6 champion at 126, leads the contingent of returnees. Cory Dreibelbis (182) was fourth in the Districts and a Northwest Regional qualifier.
Coach Ryan Cummins also just got an influx of wrestlers thanks to the Little Lion football team’s season concluding in the PIAA quarterfinals.
“The coaching staff is very excited to get the season kicked off,” coach Ryan Cummins said. “The wrestlers are working hard and improving daily. We are excited to have a very solid group of sophomores that have moved up and are ready to challenge for varsity positions.”
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy doesn’t field a full team but is hoping to make an impact by the time of the District 6 Class AA meet. Austin Emel placed sixth in the district meet last season. Emel placed second at 160 at the St. Marys Kickoff Classic.
“We are looking to continue to build our new program,” coach Pat Flynn said. “We have a nice nucleus with our junior class. We have a stronger tournament schedule this year to help us prepare our guys for Districts, Regionals, and the State Tournament. We are also super excited to getting our new wrestling room this winter.”