Area wrestling preps for the home stretch

BEA rebounded from their loss to Central Mountain by slamming Juniata is a dual on Tuesday, 53-18.

This Saturday, Ron Guenot’s Eagles will take part in the West Branch Ultimate Warrior individual tournament. West Branch AD Davey Williamson is the tournament director and does an outstanding job. Some of the teams entered are Bald Eagle Area, Brockway, Clearfield, Latrobe, Mifflin County, Mount Union, Mo Valley, Southern Columbia, and St. Joseph’s Catholic. There will be 34 teams at this very competitive event.

Last night Bellefonte was heavily favored to defeat Central (Martinsburg) after Central took a sound thumping at the hands of Clearfield, 56-15. and tomorrow night will host Central Mountain in a big local clash which should be another exciting dual meet (the bread-and-butter) of high school wrestling. I am sure many locals (Paul Powell, Jerry Swope, Ron Bowes, Bill Robb, Ron Kling, Hank Hawkins, Ron Houser) will remember the great Bellefonte teams of the past. Some former Bellefonte greats come to mind: Dave Adams, Ron Pifer, Foxy Moyer, Andy Thal, and Sam Markle. Of course, there were many others who were outstanding for the Red Raiders but all of the aforementioned became close friends. And a lot of you will recall that Tom Muir and Fran Johnson were also successful coaches at the Centre County Seat, as was former 38 Susquehanna Avenue Caveman Larry Walker.

The Wildcats (8-3) had a tense, back-and-forth dual with Selinsgrove Tuesday, before prevailing 36-30. The Seals are coached by Seth Martin, a former LHU standout. The Seals were 9-0 coming into the meet, including their first win over Shikellamy in forty-two years! Coach Martin has returning PIAA State Champion junior Nate Schon at 220. He also coached Spencer Myers to a state title at 215-lbs in 2010. Myers went on to become an All-American for the University of Maryland. Seth was a PIAA runner-up in 2002 At 152-lbs. The wrestler who defeated him in the finals is well-known to Central Mountain fans- Nathan Galloway of State College. Martin was a two-time PSAC champions and a three-time EWL placer, winning the title in his senior season.

Tonight Shikellamy is at Jersey Shore. If Shore can field a complete line-up, the meet could produce a ‘W’ for the Bulldogs. Bill Albright will be front-and-center cheering for his old haunts. Some of my sources tell me Mr. Albright was quite the math teacher in his day. I still have some of the booklets Bill put together when Rod Laub produced some of the finest teams in Shore history.

Sugar Valley Rural Charter School has a busy week coming up. Last night the Phoenix took on South Williamsport. Tonight they head to Sullivan County then are off to Benton on Monday- the 27th.

Army West Point invades Thomas Field House Saturday @ 7pm. One of the Cadets is Noah Stewart who wrestled at Mifflin County. Noah is wrestling at 184-lbs and has a couple wins over Wisconsin’s Johnny Sebastian. Word is Bob Hower, one on the pre-eminent PA wrestling historians will be in attendance.

The Lock Haven University baseball and wrestling teams’ annual Gun Raffle & Wild Game Feed is Friday, January 31 at Haywood’s-on-the-Green in Mill Hall. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. and the raffle will start at 6 p.m. Only 300 tickets will be sold. Get yours at GoLHU.com.

Penn State heads to Nebraska Friday night The Huskers assistant coach is Bryan Snyder former PIAA Champion for Easton, PA. His father Barry was a long time asst for the Rovers and wrestled at Penn State. The meet will be televised on the Big Ten network. There will be several important bouts for Big Ten seeding and to determine the dual meet outcome- 133: #3 Roman Bravo-Young vs. No. 13 Ridge Lovett; 141: #2 Nick Lee vs No. 9 Chad Red Jr.; 165: #1 Vincenzo Joseph vs. #5 Isaiah White; 174: #1 Mark Hall vs #6 Mikey Labriola and 184: #8 Aaron Brooks vs No. 5 Taylor Venz.

Director of Operations for Penn State Wrestling is Adam Lynch whose grandfather Bob Lynch was a member of the LHSC wrestling team back in the 50s. Bill Bailey, former LH Bobcat assistant, was a teammate of Bob’s. Former Chief Logan, Penn Highlands, Indian Valley assistant Bob Torok was also part of that team.

At the Penn State-Rutgers meet, I had the chance to talk with Neil Turner and his granddaughter Kylie, who is Trent’s daughter. Neil who has long been the MC of the annual PA Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame banquet has decided to retire from that position. In recent years he has been assisted bu Trent. Both continue to give to wrestling. Some may remember Neil’s involvement with the Keystone Wrestling Round-Up. I believe he was the originator of that publication- now owned and operated by Norm Palovcsik. Bantley Myers of Clarion also served as editor of that paper for many years.

I also chatted briefly with former Bobcat Dan Bauman, who now lives in Bellefonte. His son Trae was an outstanding wide receiver for the Raiders’ football team. Dan’s nephew Derek Keen is one of the most exciting wrestlers to watch on this year’s Wildcat team.

This past Monday was Martin Luther King Day. That day never comes without personal memories of such PA greats as Jim Nance, Jeff Richardson, Carlton Haselrig, Art Baker, Jimmy Carr, Fletcher Carr, Ed Ruth, Henry Green and Rich and Ed Arrington. Some of the most epic match-ups I’ve ever witnessed took place among some of these legends. The Henry Green-Jimmy Carr Regional battle still ranks as the best high school match I’ve ever witnessed.

BEA junior high wrestling was 10-0 until the 41-40 defeat at the hands of Central Mountain last week. Milton gave CM their first setback also by a one-point margin. The future looks bright in the area. Dylan Caprio and staff (Eric Coleman, Gavin Caprio) have kept the tradition that Brett Kleckner developed going strong.

BEA game manager Jim Gardner informed me that Eagle 126-pounder Grace Stem is the granddaughter of BEA’s first-ever PIAA State Champion Lew Craig. Lew won the 1968 title at 165-lbs for Joe Humphreys. Craig downed Jim Fleming of Mount Lebanon, 8-4. BEA had only one PIAA placewinner prior to Craig’s feat. That was Steve Wiser who was a runner-up the same year at 138, losing to a Mount Lebanon wrestler, Lynn Housner, 9-4. Incidentally, Grace’s father Spike was a former BEA and LHU wrestler.

Looking back at the 1968 PIAA Championships, it is interesting to note a 120-pounder from Clearfield captured the state gold by defeating West York’s Bill Luckenbaugh. That 120-pounder was none other than former Keystone administrator Norm Palovcsik. Norm went on to wrestle for Pen State and Luckenbaugh became a national contender for East Stroudsburg. Ironically, both now spend a lot of their time in Florida.

Newly-appointed wrestling chairman Phil Riccio, AD at Altoona High, announced that the last night for dual meets to count in seeding for AA is Wednesday January 22nd and for AAA – Saturday January 25th.

Caden Rogers of Malvern Prep recently won his 100th. The junior is the grandson of Dan and Sharon Vilello. Father Mike is the head coach at F & M. Caden’s younger brother Teague recently competed for Penn Manor High against Central Mountain in the Dallastown Duals.

Hope to see you around the mat.