Centre County pushed eight of its 12 wrestlers into the quarterfinals on Day 1 of the Class 2A PIAA Wrestling Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy led the way Thursday with five of its six entries making the quarters. Bald Eagle Area, Philipsburg-Osceola and Penns Valley each had one quarterfinalist.
Four wrestlers are still alive in the consolations, which begin at 9 a.m. Friday.
St. Joseph’s is second in the team standings with 28 points. Southern Columbia leads with 36 points.
Here’s a look at each team after Day 1:
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy
Quarterfinalists: Zack Witmer (132), Caleb Dowling (145), Keegan Rothrock (152), Tyler Stoltzfus (160) and Kolby Franklin (195)
Others alive: Amonn Ohl (106)
Team score: 28 points, 2nd overall
Recap: The Wolves captured district and regional team titles the last two weeks and haven’t missed a beat at the opening day of the PIAA championships.
Advancing to the quarters were Zack Witmer (132), Caleb Dowling (145), Keegan Rothrock (152), Tyler Stoltzfus (160) and Kolby Franklin (195). Amonn Ohl (106) is still alive in the wrestlebacks.
“They are all hungry and have big goals. They have to take it one step at a time and wrestle in the moment,” SJCA coach Pat Flynn said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. ... They had a super good week of practice and training. They believe in each other; it’s fun to be in their corner watching them.”
Witmer opened with a 6-1 first-round victory over Octorara’s Braedan Amole. Witmer meets Everett’s Garrett Cornell in the quarters.
Dowling, a runner-up last season, opened with a 41-second fall over Lake Lehman’s Hunter Burke. Dowling faces Palisades’ Nathan Haubert in the quarterfinals. Rothrock defeated Benton’s Nolan Lear 5-2 and now meets Ryan Vulakh of Pope John Paul II in quarterfinal action.
“Caleb isn’t motivated by wins and losses. He wants to go out and dominate people,” Flynn said. “It’s fun to coach him and all these guys.”
Stoltzfus took care of Muncy’s Ty Nixon, pinning him in 3:02. Next up is Saucon Valley’s Matthew Arciuolo. Franklin, just a freshman, piled on the points in a 23-9 major decision over Bellwood’s Trent Whaley. Franklin moves on to the quarters against Montoursville’s Gable Crebs.
Ohl dropped his first-round match to Caydin Wickard of Boiling Springs by a 13-6 score but bounced back with a fall in 2:02 over Northern Lebanon’s Brandon Breidegan in the consolations. Next up is Saegertown’s Alex Kightlinger.
“He’s a sophomore. He’s a young back. He didn’t warm up correctly in the first match, and that’s on him. He understands it,” Flynn said. “He’ll bounce back. Hopefully, he can get some points through the consolations. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and I think these guys see the light at the end of the tunnel. They want to be here Saturday afternoon.”
Quarterfinalists: Malachi DuVall (138)
Others alive: Baylor Shunk (120)
Team score: 7.5 points, 32nd overall
Recap: Malachi DuVall made his debut at states a memorable one with an 8-3 victory over Mifflinburg’s Clayton Reed in the first round. The Rams sophomore goes against Saegertown’s Kenny Kiser in the quarterfinals.
“It was nice for him to get the win. He got the first takedown into a cradle but he could have pushed some more, but it was a solid win,” Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker said. “It’s Malachi’s first time here, so I told him he has to take it like it’s just another match, don’t be starstruck, and don’t move your feet like you’re in concrete. Keep wrestling.”
Baylor Shunk scored an 18-1 technical fall over Hanover’s Joe Rowley in 3:54 before dropping a hard-fought 4-2 decision to former PIAA champion Beau Bayless of Reynolds in the quarterfinals. Shunk takes on Mount Pleasant’s Noah Teeter in the consys.
“Baylor put a lot of points in his first match and did a decent job against a high-caliber kid. I’m proud of his effort,” Brinker said. “ I believe if he wrestles to his ability, he can come out with a medal. He knows what to do. He placed fifth two years ago. He knows the mindset you must have in the consolations.”
Quarterfinalists: Chase Chapman (132)
Others alive: Hunter Weitoish (152)
Team score: 6 points, T-40 overall
Recap: Chapman began his tournament with a 10-8 win over Northern Lebanon’s Collin Leonard. Next up is 2018 state placewinner Tye Varndell of Cambridge Springs in a quarterfinal match.
“It comes back to the way he trains. Halfway through the season, he finally realized the harder he works, the easier it is for him,” P-O coach Brad Pataky said. “He’s had a different attitude since Ultimate Warrior. He’s a good wrestler who knows what he’s capable of doing and accomplishing. In time, if he continues to work hard, continues to trust the process and continues to trust his training, he’s going to be at the top of the podium.”
Hunter Weitoish lost his opener to Conneaut Area’s Brendan Laird 4-3 before rallying for the 4-2 win over Lehighton’s Logan Pogatto in the consolations. Weitoish meets Chett Pesta of Williams Valley in the second round of consolations.
“Hunter has to have the mentality of, ‘I’m going to win or go home.’ What it comes down to is how bad you want to continue,” Pataky said. ”Hunter has the ability to beat very good kids. It’s about putting forth his best effort every single day, not just in competition but in practice. If he picks up his work ethic, he could be on the podium.”
Bald Eagle Area
Quarterfinalists: Cooper Gilham (113)
Others alive: None
Eliminated: Garrett Giedroc (120)
Team score: 4 points, T-64 overall
Recap: Gilham got by General McLane’s Andrew Brest 9-7 in the first round and will hook up with Nate Holderbaum of Chestnut Ridge in the quarterfinals.
“It was a nice win for him. It shows you how much he’s improved due to his hard work, what he’s done inside and out of the practice room,” BEA coach Ron Guenot said. “To move on into the quarters ... he’s in a good place right now. He’s been wrestling tough for the last couple of months.”
Giedroc lost 8-3 to Biglerville’s Blake Showers in the preliminaries and then saw his high school career come to an end after losing to Mount Pleasant’s Noah Teeter in the consolations by a 10-4 decision.
“He’s had a great career. He’s disappointed right now, but he has nothing to hang his head about,” Guenot said. “He’s been a leader for us and will be missed.”
Class 2A action resumes 9 a.m. Friday.
PIAA Class 2A Results
Team Key: Bald Eagle Area (BEA), Bellwood-Antis (BA), Benton (B), Biglerville (BG), Bishop McDevitt (BM), Boiling Springs (BS), Conneaut Area (CA), General McLane (GM), Hanover (H), Lake Lehman (LL), Lehighton (L), Mifflinburg (M), Mount Pleasant (MP), Muncy (MN) Northern Lebanon (NL), Octorara (O), Philipsburg-Osceola (P-O), Penns Valley (PV)
Team Scores: 1. Southern Columbia 36, 2. St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy 28, 3. Notre Dame-GP 25.5, 4. Saucon Valley 24, 5. Reynolds 22, 6. Chestnut Ridge 20.5, 7. Greenville 19, 8. Freedom Area 18.5, 9. Forest Hills 14.5, 10. Biglerville 14, 32. Penns Valley 7.5, T-40. Philipsburg-Osceola 6, T-64. Bald Eagle Area 4
113: Cooper Gilham, BEA, bye; 120: Blake Showers, BG, dec. Garrett Giedroc, BEA, 8-3; Baylor Shunk, PV, technical fall Joe Rowley, H, 18-1 (3:54); Amonn Ohl, SJ, bye; 132: Zack Witmer, SJ, bye; Chase Chapman, P-O, bye; 138: Malachi DuVall, PV, bye; 145: Caleb Dowling, SJ, bye; 152: Brendan Laird, CA, dec. Hunter Weitoish, P-O, 4-3; Keegan Rothrock, bye; 160: Tyler Stoltzfus, SJ, bye; 195: Kolby Franklin, SJ, bye.
113: Gilham, BEA, dec. Andrew Breast, GM, 9-7; 120: Caydin Wickard, BS dec. Ohl, SJ, 13-6; Beau Bayless, R, dec. Shunk, PV, 4-2; 132: Witmer, SJ, dec. Braedan Amole, O, 6-1; Chapman, P-O, dec. Colin Leonard, NL, 10-8; 138: DuVall, PV dec. Clayton Reed, M, 8-3; 145: Dowling, SJ, pinned Hunter Burke, LL, :41; 152: Rothrock, SJ, dec. Nolan Lear, B, 5-2; 160: Stoltzfus, SJ, pinned Ty Nixon, MN, 3:02; 195: Franklin, SJ, maj. dec. Trent Whaley, BA, 23-9.
Consolation First Round
120: Noah Teeter, MP, dec. Giedroc, BEA, 10-4; Ohl, SJ, pinned Brandon Breidegan, NL, 2:02; Shunk, PV, bye; 152: Weitoish, P-O, dec. Logan Pagotto, Lehighton, 4-2.