There’s something about the Class AAA Northwest Regional Tournament that seems to bring out the best in Centre County wrestlers.
None of the four county teams are a factor in the team race, but 21 of 23 wrestlers are still alive and eight of them are in the semifinals.
Bald Eagle Area’s Seth Koleno (126) and Josh Fye (285), Bellefonte’s Aaron Witherite (120), Brock Port (132) and Trevor Corl (145), Philipsburg-Osceola’s Dakota Weitosh (138) and State College’s Adam Stover (106) and Cory Dreibelbis (195) all earned semifinal berths.
Central Mountain is in first place with 56 points, just ahead of General McLane (54.5). State College is eighth with 29, Bellefonte ninth with 27.5, Bald Eagle Area 14th with 18.5 and Philipsburg-Osceola tied for 18th with 12.
Stover, who placed third in the District 6 tournament, started his march to the semifinals with a 2-0 upset win over District 10 champion Brady Sittinger of Cathedral Prep in the first round. He followed that with a 38-second fall to get into the 106-pound semifinals. He meets Central Mountain’s Geo Barzona.
“It was good. We had a great first round. We had a couple setbacks in the quarters, but the fact that everyone’s still alive means everything. In the past they’ve wrestled back, so I’m not too worried about that. I think they can do it. They’ve got a lot of heart,” State College coach Ryan Cummins said.
“We looked at his (Stover’s) bracket early on and said, ‘that’s going to be the match right there. If he can get through him, he can get his foot in the door.’ He did a great job.”
Witherite squeaked out two close wins to get to the 120-pound semifinals, recording 2-1 and 4-2 decisions. He meets Meadville’s Aaron Ehrgott, the District 10 champion.
“He has to get his offense going. Tomorrow is obviously a very important match,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said. “He hasn’t gotten his offense going from last week to this week. Hopefully, tomorrow’s the day he gets it going and he’ll be going to states.”
Koleno was a wrecking ball in gaining his semifinal berth. He started with a 16-0 technical fall in 2:16 and then recorded a quick fall in 1:06 in the quarterfinals. He’ll take on Shikellamy’s Nick Gittens, the District 4 runner-up, in the 126-pound semifinals.
“He’s pretty quick about getting on top and turning a kid. That’s where it ended. It’s just the kind of stuff he does, a quick takedown to a cradle to his back and that was it,” BEA coach Steve Millward said.
Port had a bye and then had to survive a tight match in the quarterfinals. He was pushed into overtime by Cathedral Prep’s TaNauz Gregory and was close to giving up the deciding takedown. Instead he took Gregory down to his back and pinned him in 6:59. He’ll face Clearfield’s Noah Cline, the District 9 champion, in the 132-pound semifinals.
“You have to do things right leading up to the match, no matter how good you are. Give him credit, the kid’s a tough kid and dangerous. He did what he needed to do to win. I think the bye hurt him a little bit,” Maney said.
Weitosh was dominating in advancing to the 138-pound semifinals. He started with a fall in 5:15 before notching a 9-0 major decision. He tangles with District 10 champion Giovanni Ciotti of General McLane.
“Dakota’s been working hard on tilts and back points and it showed in those matches tonight,” Mounties coach Tim McCamley said.
Corl wasted little time in posting two falls, needing just 2:38 then 1:50. He’ll be paired with General McLane’s Owen Watkins, the District 10 champ, in the 145-pound semifinals.
“It wasn’t his best performance in the finals last week. He has to stay on his offense and he’s going to be tough to beat if he does that. Hopefully he can do the same thing tomorrow and cash another ticket to states,” Maney said.
Dreibelbis pinned his way to the 195-pound semifinals, notching falls in 4:16 and 4:19. He meets Clearfield’s Travis Ogden.
“Cory’s really started to turn the corner. The way he’s practicing is better. His intensity is better. We’re happy with the way he’s wrestling and he’s definitely coming into his own in this tournament,” Cummins said.
Fye started slow, with a 4-0 win in the first round, before needing just 1:26 to record a fall and earn a berth in the 285-pound semifinals.
“Both matches he started slow. The second match it took maybe making a mistake, getting angry about it and turned it around pretty quick. Hopefully tomorrow he doesn’t have that slow start. I hope he goes out there and fires away like he’s been capable of doing all year,” Millward said.
BEA’s Garrett Rigg (120), Bellefonte’s Luke Leathers (126) and Chase Gardner (138), Philipsburg-Osceola’s Nick Patrick (160) and State College’s Anthony Myers (126), William Roeshot (170), Pete Haffner (220) and Jack Vandevort (285) all won their first matches but then lost in the quarterfinals. They are still alive in the second round of consolations, the first round of today’s action at 10 a.m.
P-O’s Matt Johnson (113), State College’s Dalton Barger (145), Bellefonte’s Nate Rosenberger (152) and Bald Eagle Area’s Mitchell Taylor (195) all lost their first matches but rebounded with wins and are still alive in the second round of consolations. So, too, is Bellefonte’s Dillon Kephart (182) who lost his first match but received a bye into the second round of consolations.
Bellefonte’s Shafiq Blake (106) and Philipsburg-Osceola’s Levi Hughes (132) both lost two matches and were eliminated.
The semifinals and third round of consolations are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. The fourth round of consolations are slated for 3 p.m. In a change from the original schedule, both the consolation finals and championship finals will be contested simultaneously on two mats starting at 6 p.m.
“It wasn’t a bad night. We wrestled well. We came to wrestle tonight. We wrestled some good matches,” McCamley said. “This is the regionals. They’re supposed to be good matches. The good kids are left. We’re still hanging in there. We’ve got some tough draws but that’s what it’s all about.”
For Maney, it was a night that could have been better.
“On paper, we did what we were supposed to do. I don’t think we wrestled very well. I think there are some things we need to do better in preparation as far as managing weight properly and doing things leading up to matches,” he said.
Millward was happy to have his four-man contingent still alive.
“That’s the goal. Too bad we didn’t go 8-0 but we’ll take what we can get. We have all the guys alive tomorrow morning,” he said.