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

The Regional Tournaments are history, and as in any PIAA Tournament, there were highs and lows.

Bellefonte finished in third place with two champions (Lane Aikey 120; Ethan Richner 152) and two bronze medalists (Cole Stewart 138, Ethan Rossman 182).

Central Mountain, showing their team balance, finished in a tie for fifth with State College without a single champion. They did this in the Conestoga Valley Tournament, as well. The Wildcats had a third placer (Derek Keen 106).

Down River, Williamsport garnered two third-place winners (Braden Bower 113; Anthony Robinson 160).

Jersey Shore will send their team leader and Northeast AA champ Hunter O’Connor (182).

As reported last week, BEA qualified Cooper Gilham (113) and Garrett Giedroc (120.)

As most of you are aware John Lipez and I (Butch Miller engineer) streamed the NW AAA Regionals from Altoona. We got to see many, many talented underclassmen, and we predict big things in the future for this region. District 6 had seven of the fourteen champions and five runners-up. I fully expect the region to grab three gold medals- not bad for the smallest in numbers of schools.

The old phrase “the thrill of winning and the agony of defeat,” was personified Saturday evening as all of the area qualifiers were elated. Those who came within a gnat’s eyelash of making it to Hershey were heartbroken. None knew it harder than Tanner Rigger, Central Mountain’s 195-pounder. Each and every one of his coaches stood by to give a hug to a kid that has given so much to the program.

Sure, the others were quite disappointed, as well, but Tanner was as disappointed for his coaches and teammates as he was for himself. We send out congratulations and good luck to all of this year’s senior wrestlers.

Coach Biff Walizer offered his congratulations and good wishes to NW Regional medalists Tanner Riggle and Jacob Edwards on their 4th place finishes. He noted that Tanner, Jacob, Johnny Shreffler, Kayden Busey, Cody Coleman, and Alonzo Henry all concluded their successful CM Wrestling careers. It was highly unusual to have two wrestlers have to withdraw from competition because of concussions. But that is what exactly befell Johnny Shreffler and Lane Porter. Both are reportedly doing fine.

I’m no Tom Landers, but I would give all returnees a bit of advice:work on a second or third takedown. Drill them a thousand times until they become automatic. One takedown will NOT get you where you want to go next season.


Super freshman Mark McGonigal (Clearfield) was a runner-up at 152 to multi-talented Ethan Richner of Bellefonte. McGonigal is the younger brother of Lock Haven U’s Luke McGonigal.

Jow Mwete of Brashear is the only District 8 (Pittsburgh City Schools) qualifier. He is the half-brother of Godwin Nyama who captured the ONLY District 8 PIAA title (120lbs) in 2012 for Brashear.

There was no Outstanding Wrestler award given at the Regionals, but my vote would have gone to Penn State recruit Carter Starocci of Cathedral Prep. He was untouchable. A VERY close second would have been State College’s Cole Urbas (195). Urbas’ father, Ed, wrestled for North Allegheny and Gus DeAugustino. Gus,í son Mark who lives and coaches in the Tampa, Florida area, will be inducted this spring into the Florida Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Central Mountain had the following placers in the PJWs: Dalton Perry 2nd, Luke Simcox 3rd, Damien Galentine 4th and Gino Serafini 7th. If they can stay healthy and hungry, their future is bright.

Kyle Shoop leads the nation in tech falls with fourteen. Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix is second with twelve. Locals should take advantage and study the Boiling Springs alum’s tilt series. From my perch along press row, if Shoop could get a second TD, he would be an even tougher out.

The last PIAA Champions for area schools are: Central Mountain (Brian Brill 145 in2011); BEA (Jake Taylor (182 in 2013); Bellefonte 125 in 2010).

Other trivia would show BE-N with Andy Hull (160 in 1999); Lock Haven Peter Rinella (112 in 1990); Sugar Valley Trapp McCormack (103 in 1996); Penns Valley (180 in 1963). Among State leaders in total PIAA Champions are Canonsburg/Canon McMillan 44; Clearfield with 41; Waynesburg with 36; and Easton with 35. State College leads District 6 with 24. Defunct Lock Haven had 20; BE-N had 14. Both BEA and Bellefonte have had ten each.

Thanks to former insurance agent/teacher/referee Jim Ferguson for mailing me wrestling clippings from his winter residence in Orlando, FL. Florida and Georgia are two vastly improves wrestling states. Mississippi is the only state without high school wrestling. Former state trooper Steve Richard has volunteered to give Jim an escort back to the Oval area when he returns in late March.

Wrestling fans, mark your calendars. May 8 (Wednesday) will be our next Central PA Wrestling breakfast. We will start taking reservations towards the end of March after we solidify arrangements with the Flemington First Church of Christ. We expect 200 from all over the wrestling map.

Have you heard about the father who smashed his 9-year old wrestler/son for losing a match in a tournament? How sad that sort of thing happens. Wrestling is important but in the end, it is just a sport that some of us do or have done. Parents should sit in the stands and cheer their sons /daughters and others on. Parents do not belong along the mats. Chances are when this 9-year old grows up, he will want nothing to do with wrestling. Don’t be that parent.

The EWL has been accorded 14 qualifiers for NCAA. All champions will go with two at 133 and 285 and three at 165. And in news breaking this week, it is official the EWL will join the Mid-American Conference (MAC), giving both more qualifiers for NCAAs.

Penn State has the most No. 1 seeds at the upcoming Big Ten Tournament with four (Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph, Mark Hall, and Bo Nickal). Nick Lee is No. 2 at 141, while Shakur Rasheed (184) and Anthony Cassar (285) are ranked third. Roman Bravo-Young has been accorded a No. 4 ranking.

This weekend PIAA finals will NOT be televised on PCN for the first time in recent memory. The PIAA has come to an agreement with FloWrestling to serve as the streaming video provider. There are pros and cons. You must have a membership to Flo to watch the video (yearly cost $150). However you get to see any match you choose to watch throughout the entire tournament. People with no computer will be plain out-of-luck as will the casual fan. Such a move could possibly increase the attendance which has been in a downward spiral the past 15 years. Personally, I think the price-gouging of the Hershey area hotels have played a huge part in that decrease.

For those making the trip to Hershey:

The schedule for this weekend is:THURSDAY, MARCH 7

9 AM : Class 2A prelims and 1st round

1:15 PM : Class 2A consolation 1st round

4 PM : Class 3A prelims and 1st round

8:15 PM : Class 3A consolation 1st round


9 AM : Class 2A quarterfinals and consolation 2nd round

11:45 AM : Class 2A consolation 3rd round

2:15 PM : Class 3A quarterfinals and consolation 2nd round

5 PM : Class 3A consolation 3rd round

7:30 PM : Class 2A semifinals and consolation 4th round

9:30 PM : Class 2A consolation 5th round


9 AM : Class 3A semifinals and consolation 4th round

11:30 AM .: Class 3A consolation 5th round

1:45 PM: Class 2A Parade of Champions

2 PM : Class 2A finals, 3rd, 5th, 7th place matches

6:45 PM : Class 3A Parade of Champions

7 PM: Class 3A finals, 3rd, 5th, 7th place matches