Tom Elling’s Wrestling Mat-ters: PIAA Hershey wrestling recap

The end of the PIAA Wrestling season ended last weekend. As usual, there were great stories abounding.

While 28 champions went home ecstatic, there were many more who were disappointed. That is not to say that some would be pleased with a medal or perhaps a win or two, but being on the floor and in the entranceway, I was able to see the tears and the frustrations of so many.

Central Mountain’s Derek Keen certainly showed he is competitive. He was ahead in both of his bouts but the wins eluded him. Credit the opponents. They were both skilled and mentally-tough individuals. Having watched him all year long, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in Hershey (along with a couple more young ‘Cats) next PIAAs.

Bellefonte’s Ethan Richner looked solid with a fall and a hang-in-there overtime win to get to the semis. The Raider sophomore placed sixth. Mike Maney has his team headed in the right direction, for sure. Lane Aikey (120), Cole Stewart (138), and Ethan Rossman (182) all went 0-2 but they learned how tough it is at the Giant Center. Aikey and Rossman are sophomores and will aim even higher next season. It was nice to become reacquainted with old friend Bill Aikey (grandfather of Lane). Bill wrestled for BE-N many moons ago. He even got a high-five from Forest Hills’ champ Jackson Arrington (113) as Arrington made his way to hug Young Guns’ Jody and John Strittmatter.

BEA’s Cooper Gilham went 1-2 at Hershey in the 113-pound class. Cooper is just a sophomore. Garrett Giedroc finished his fine career for the Eagles in Hershey.

We surely do have a plethora of outstanding youngsters in our area. Wrestling looks bright for our local teams and District 6.

Jersey Shore’s fine upper weight Hunter O’Connor finished his high school career with an eighth-place finish and a fine record of 34-7. Hunter has been a strong and steady wrestler for Shore for four years.

The PIAAs were a mini Conklin reunion as brothers Ed, George and Paul all worked the tournament. Commissioner Paul’s son, Jon, also was part of the staff.

The 2019 Pittsburgh Junior Wrestling Championships will take place on March 16 and 17 at the Peterson Event Center in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

The tournament will consist of qualifiers from 14 different sections throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Central Mountain qualified three for the state event. They are Mario Serafini (9-10) 85 pounds, Hunter Donley (9-10) 95 pounds, and Jacob Weaver (11-12) 115 pounds. All took second places in their qualifier. Others who entered the Area 2 qualifier but didn’t qualify include Gavin Heverly (9-10) 60 pounds, Kai Fravel (9-10) 105 pounds, Cameron Quick (11-12) 90 pounds, Bryce Brungard (11-12) 125 pounds. and Nick Lose(11-12) 160 pounds. Ashton Falls was forced to withdraw prior to the tourney because of an illness.

Good things with LHU. The following made the EWL All-Academic Team: Chance Marsteller, DJ Fehlman, Sammy Hepler, Brinton Simington, Collin Glorioso, Jonathan Ross, Brandon Loperfido, Alex Klucker, Derek Dragon, Brock Port, Blake Reynolds and Austin Wilson. But putting the books aside for the weekend, the grapplers had quite the weekend in Virginia as they crowned six champions who carried them to their second straight EWL team title. All six have qualified for the Big Dance in Pittsburgh in two weeks. Lock Haven boasted six individual champions (all of them from Pennsylvania high schools): D.J. Fehlman (Warren), Kyle Shoop (Boiling Springs), Alex Klucker (East Pennsboro), Chance Marsteller (Kennard-Dale), Corey Hazel (Penns Valley) and Thomas Haines (Solanco). Marsteller was named the Outstanding wrestler for his dominant performance. Klucker (157) and Hazel (184) successfully defended their 2018 EWL titles. Fehlman (133), Klucker, Marsteller (165) and Hazel are two-time NCAA qualifiers. Shoop (141) and Haines (285) are making their third trip to the NCAA’s. Luke Werner at 125 dropped a heartbreaker to Bloomsburg’s Willy Girard, 9-8 TB2; Bellefonte grad Brock Port finished 3rd at 149; Jared Siegrist (Manheim Central grad) was 3rd at 174. Congratulations to coach Scott Moore and his staff for a job well done. No one outworks Scott, Nate, Jr. and Robbie Weikel.

That school down the road with the Blue and White also did ‘fairly well.’ The Nittany Lions captured the team title with four individual champions: Jason Nolf (157), Mark Hall (174), Bo Nickal (197) and Anthony Cassar (285). The 2018-2019 version of the Cael Sanderson-coached team finished as the undefeated regular season champions, defending national champions, and Big Ten champions. The honors accorded to the Penn Staters included: Cael Sanderson, Big Ten Coach of the Year, Bo Nickal and Jason Nolf, Co-Big Ten Wrestlers of the Year, and Jason Nolf, Co-2019 Big Ten Tournament Outstanding Wrestler.

Former Huntingdon wrestler now at Edinboro, Jacob Oliver, received an ‘At-Large’ bid to enter the NCAAs.

Clinton County native, Trap McCormack, also received some plaudits as he was named PWCA AAA Assistant Coach-of-the-Year. His boss (also an LHU grad) Brad Silimperi was named AAA Head Coach-of-the-Year. Others receiving honors at the states were AA Head Coach- Jerry Marks, Southern Columbia; AA Assistant- Kent Lane, Southern Columbia; AA Jr. High Coach- Devon Weed, Canton and AAA Jr. High Coach-Brent Zeiders, Central Dauphin.

Caden Rogers wrestling for Malvern Prep, grandson of Dan and Sharon Vilello, placed third at 145pounds in the PA Independent School States and then went on to take sixth at the National Prep School tournament held at Stabler Arena, Lehigh University.Malvern finished fourth in the team race. If that school sounds familiar, there is good reason- one of the outstanding wrestlers in the nation Michael Beard is waiting in the wings to step into the 197 spot for Penn State. He won the Clarion open early this past season over Clarion strongboy Greg Bulsak.

The next Central PA Wrestling Breakfast will be May 8 again at the Flemington First Church of Christ. Details will be emailed to all those interested. If Lloyd Rhoades doesn’t have your email, you can get it to me We will be sending out a flyer with details in late March. We expect 200 wrestling people from all over PA as well as nearby states.

Mark DeAugustino (son of the late, great Gus DeAugustino) will be honored by the Florida Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in their summer banquet.

Mark has been coaching in Florida for many years. Mark wrestled for his dad at North Allegheny and for Gray Simons at Tennessee.

Also, former Penn State wrestler and coach Rich Lorenzo has been accorded the honor of being named a Distinguished Member of the National Hall Class of 2019. Ceremonies will take place in Stillwater in early June.

Sad to report one of the area’s top wrestling supporters, Pat Seybold, passed away last week. Pat and wife Janet (along with Jim and Judy Lovett) were staunch supporters of the LHSC and LHU wrestling program. He will be missed. Also, another wrestling fan (particularly of Lock Haven High) George McKenzie also passed. George especially enjoyed watching Gregg Larson wrestle. He and Mrs. McKenzie were great friends with Herb and Midge Larson.

A special thanks to Jim Lovette for securing an EWL program and ticket for my collection. I’ve been tossing around the idea of establishing a Pennsylvania Wrestling Museum with my collection (which includes several items from the likes of Judy Carpenter, Bud Stehman, Ron Kling, Chris Poff). I’ve talked this over with others who have vast collections (Bob Hower, Norm Palovcsik) and we all agree it would be a shame to have all of that wrestling history tossed aside after our demise.

I had the good fortune of Wrestling USA Magazine choosing one of my photos of Mark Hall in action against Myles Amine of Michigan for their March 15 cover. I also consider myself fortunate to know the parents of both wrestlers. John and Sheryl Reeves introduced me to Mr. Amine when Michigan visited the Bryce Jordan Center on Feb. 1. The Reeves family now lives in Western Indiana. They are good friends with top-ranked Stephan Micic of Michigan.

BEA grad Larry Guenot and P-O grad Dick Wood were the only two officials from District Six at the PIAA Individual Championships. Both represented our area well.

I’ll be travelling to Pittsburgh for the NCAAs. I’m hoping LHU and Penn State bring back a lot of hardware.