Tom Elling’s Wrestling Mat-ters: Wrestling recap and preview

Scott Moore and the Foundation at LHU are reaching out to alums – especially wrestling alums- in a February 10 social before the Clarion dual meet. It’s a Sunday and the meet is scheduled for 2 PM. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of my wrestling pals there. I’ve heard Ken Melchior will be attending. The social will take place in Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center from 11:30 AM- 2 PM. Ticket ($10 which includes a lunch can be purchased at https://www.alumni.lhup.edu.

I read recently about one great fan following a certain high school team. I applaud that and certainly can understand the enthusiasm the fans have for their very successful team, however, it is a little over the top when the fans are gathered in the corner right behind the two coaching chairs. The fans belong in the stands. There are two chairs in the corner for one reason. Believe me, as a broadcaster who is trying to describe the action, I find it reprehensive when I can’t see the wrestlers because of the huge following in the corners. I’d suggest all tournaments enforce the two-in-a-corner rule.

Northwest Regional Tournament director Paul Conklin has decided to call it quits. Paul has done an excellent job at running the event the past several years. Perhaps it is a good time to retire from that event as both BEA and Philipsburg-Osceola have elected to go the Class AA route. Both traditionally have great fan support. I doubt their replacements (Johnstown and Juniata) will have nearly the support. Couple that with the fact Altoona High is renovating their field house with access from only one side entrance and one might surmise attendance will be way off. Also an additional side note, the lady with whom both Paul and I dealt in securing housing for tournament officials- Dolly Kozlovak – passed away a few weeks ago. Damian Branas and Dave Crumrine will assume the directorship.

Does anyone else notice a disturbing trend in (especially collegiate) tournaments? I am speaking of the increased number of forfeits in the medal round. Sure, there are legit cases where a coach or wrestlers need to protect a banged-up contestant, but a mere headache or an I-don’t-want-to-risk-a-lossíattitude seems to be the prevailing direction. Suck it up, guys. Wrestling isn’t for the weak.

In college, a medical forfeit equates to withdrawing from the tournament without taking a loss. This is not the case in high school. There are no medical forfeits. This causes me to wonder if some coaches further downriver are applying the college standard. I’m just wondering – for a friend.

Congratulations to Bellefonte’s Mike Maney on achieving his 150th coaching win this past weekend. He has led his Raiders to a sparkling 8-1 dual reacord this season including an exciting 37-30 win over previously -undefeated Penns Valley on Tuesday. Bellefonte will compete in the 39th annual Virginia Duals at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia on January 11-12. They will compete in the American Division along with several of Virginia’s top teams including Culpeper County, Fauquier, First Colonial, and Grundy. Haddonfield NJ, St. Mary’s Ryken MD and the only other PA entry Upper Dauphin will participate. The Raiders already own a dominant win over Farquier (coached by former BEA standout Doug Fisher). Fisher’s son has achieved the 100-win plateau this season (as a junior). Bellefonte’s top wrestlers record-wise are Alex Coppolo, Cole Stewart, Ethan Richner, Ethan Rossman, Lane Aikey, and Ryan Smith;

BEA has been struggling to get to .500 but took a big step moving to a 4-5 record after downing P-O, 39-27 Tuesday. Their loss to Altoona last weekend by a single point (34-33) was especially stinging. Those close losses are the ones that haunt a coach. Ron Guenot’s Eagles will next entertain Tyrone on January 15. BEA’s top grapplers thus far are David Close, Garrett Giedroc, Cooper Gilham and Dylan Bisel. Richard Taylor has been coming on strong of late.

Jersey Shore has also been enduring a rough season while looking for their first dual meet Thursday versus winless Milton, before they host their own JS Duals this weekend. Hunter OíConnor, Ryan Kershner and Zak Kline own the best records for the Bulldogs.

Central Mountain has continued to roll, remaining undefeated (5-0) with a 67-9 thrashing of Shamokin,and will host Shikellamy tonight. Shik has a handful of excellent wrestlers but most likely not enough to upset CM. The Wildcats, led by Biff Walizer, have nine wrestlers with ten or more wins. Balance has been the key for this team as evidenced by their winning the Conestoga Valley tournament without a single individual champion. Shik dropped a 39-34 decision at Williamsport Tuesday night.

CM will be tested this weekend at the Dallastown Duals. Cocalico (2-3), Cumberland Valley (6-0), Dallastown (8-0), Hatboro Horsham (7-4), Marple Newtown (1-1), Susquehannock (6-4), and York Suburban (11-5) are in the field. CM opens with York Suburban at 12:30 and will most likely take on Cumberland Valley in the semis at 3:30 PM. The finals are set for 5 PM.

It was nice to see former Wildcat wrestlers Bryce Bitner and Richie Thompson volunteering in the program.

Congratulations to former LHU grappler Jody Karam. His Bethlehem Liberty teams moved into the No. 1 ranking in AAA with their last week’s win over Bethlehem Catholic (Beca). Beca up until this year had been coached by Jody’s brother Jeff. Jeff retired after last season.

As you undoubtedly are aware, Penn State walked away with yet another Southern Scuffle title. It was a two-way battle with Oklahoma State. The two teams had ALL of the individual championships. LHU did well, too, placing 6th in the grueling tournament. Chance Marsteller placed second, losing by just a point to NCAA champ Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State); Luke Werner (125), Kyle Shoop (141) and DJ Fehlman (also 141) were the other Bald Eagle placers. Werner, by the way, wrestled for Jody Karam (mentioned above) at Bethlehem Liberty. Your Bald Eagles are ranked No. 14 in the nation- not bad for a small-town team. LHU will travel to Hampton, VA, to participate in the collegiate division of the Virginia Duals. They will compete in the National Division along with Arizona State, Chattanooga, Kent State, Oklahoma, Old Dominion, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

Penn State will host Wisconsin on Sunday. Former volunteer at LHU Dom Lincalis is now working with the Badger program. Chris Bono has done an exceptional job this season. They are 6-1, losing to only Ohio State. The top match-up will be at 165 with No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph taking in No. 2 Evan Wick.

Other ranked wrestlers for the Badgers are Tristan Moran (141) 12th, Ryan Christensen (174) No.11 and Trent Hillger (285) . Hilger, another outstanding freshman, is injured and will not likely participate.

But prior to that the Nittany Lions will travel to Northwestern tomorrow to take on former State High state champ Matt Storniolo’s team. Former Northwester coach Ken Kraft started the Midlands tournament several years ago when schools in the Mid-West and further decided the Wilkes Open was too far to travel.

Talk about impressive freshmen. How about Daton Fix from Oklahoma State and Minnesota’s Gable Steveson? Both are truly national contenders and will be fun to watch along the way. No, we’re not forgetting Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young. He, too, will make some noise as a freshman in Pittsburgh.

One thing I learned from PSU radio personality Jeff Byers is that Oklahoma State’s Kaden Gfeller last name is pronounced “Guh-feller.”í

Did you know: Bud Stehman started the wrestling program at Mill Hall when they were the Millers? Bud later became better know as the coach at LHSS with four state champs in one year (1961).

A non-wrestling item.. Lewistown’s Junior Powell called me this week seeking some football information for a book he is compiling. While I didn’t have the information he requested, I did point him in the right direction. He asked that I extend his regards to Bud Yost, Bill Bowes, Don Malinak, Mike Vuocolo and Mike Lapriola. I don’t know Lapriola but I know he has relatives in town that will pass it on. Junior told me that he once wrestled Vuocolo in high school, laughing that ë“At least he didn’t pin me.”í It must have deterred the former Penn State running back, as he only wrestled that one year.

I’ll let you know what other gems I’m learned from this week’s action in my next column. Thanks for reading.

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