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Tom Elling on wrestling: PIAA postseason is now underway

Two local teams (Jersey Shore and Sugar Valley Rural Charter) got things going in the post season as they competed in the first leg of the PIAA trail to Hershey. Shore had a strong performance, finishing second to Canton in the AA North. Canton amassed 174 points to Shore’s 150. The Bulldogs crowned three champions and added three runner-up spots to qualify for the District 4 Class AA this weekend. Taking gold were Brock Weiss (106), Liam Goodrich (132) and Haydn Packer (189). The runners-up were Gabe Andrus (145), Tyler Bauder (160) and Lee Springman (285). Dyllian Ross qualified with a 3rd at 285 pounds.

Sugar Valley wasn’t as fortunate, having just two wrestlers winning a single bout. Dom Kennedy (145) and Kirk Johnson (152) won their initial bouts before being eliminated the next round. None of the other Phoenix entries were able to collect a ‘W.’ The Valley finished last of ten teams in the AA South. Benton surprised by taking the championship; Montgomery placed second.

The District 6 Sectionals were scheduled to take place Tuesday evening. However, at least two sites (Huntingdon and BEA) postponed. (Since this column is composed Tuesday and has to be in Wednesday morning, I have no results or updates.)

The District 6 Class AA finals are scheduled for Saturday at the Altoona FH. Starting time is 10 A.M. District 6 is one of the few allowing any spectators and that is limited to two per finals’ qualifiers). Todd Warner and Adam Day may be bringing you the action via the BEA school site. They have been awaiting approval from the District 6 wrestling chairman. The top two wrestlers at each weight will advance to the District 6 Class 2A Championships. Moshannon Valley was forced to withdraw from the Sectionals at BEA because of COVID-related issues. Similarly, Johnstown High has withdrawn from AAA. The AAA brackets/seed were to take place last night.

Central Mountain (11-1) and Bellefonte (13-0) will be among the favorites to win the AAA Districts on Saturday at Altoona. State College will also challenge and Mifflin County has enough talent to serve as spoilers. Starting time from director Phil Riccio is 10 A.M. A few weeks ago Bellefonte edged State College and CM to take the Big 7. Nik Miller (215) of CM has the most wins in the AAA local area with sixteen(16). Teammates Luke Simcox and Taylor Weaver check in with fifteen at 126 and 132 respectively. Bellefonte has three 15-match winners in Jude Swisher, Ethan Rossman, and Ethan Richner. John Lipez and I (with engineer/owner Michael Frank) will be streaming the CM matches from Altoona this weekend. We, of course, will do our best to report on our other area teams. Our sponsors are in the LH,Mill Hall area- thus our allegiance.

As for qualifiers, three from Districts 6 and District 7 and two from District 5 will advance to SW AA Regionals. In, AA, two each from Districts Six, Four/Nine, Eight and Ten. The Super Region for AA will have five from our SW AA and three from the NW; our NW AAA will just get two, while the SC and the SW will have three. Each Super-Regional will send four to the State meet at the Giant Center with the AA taking place on March 12th- the AAA the following day.

District 4 AA will be teaming with TrackWrestling to stream their championships this Saturday at a cost of $19.95. We will be streaming the D6 tourney at no cost to the viewer. We, in our area, are fortunate to have sponsors who step up each year to bring that service to you. As an aside and an oft-displaced blame, the PIAA does not make a cent from any district championship. Had the bottom line been about dollars, wouldn’t it stand to reason, tournament officials would allow maximum number of spectators? These are not normal times so many adjustments must be devised. Let’s hope these dark days are soon behind us.

Central Mountain and North Allegheny girl wrestlers made history with their performance in a recent dual meet. North Allegheny defeated Central Mountain 12-11 in the first contested match between sanctioned girls wrestling teams in Pennsylvania on Feb. 6. There are nine sanctioned girls’ team so far in PA. The PIAA requires 100 for any sport to establish a state championship. Only 91 more to go!

Cael Sanderson garnered his 200th dual meet victory as a collegiate coach on Sunday at Michigan for PSU. The legend is now 200-26-2 overall in this, his 15th season as head coach, including a 44-10 mark in three years at Iowa State. He is 156-16-2 so far in his 12th season at Penn State. Sanderson is also 86-11-1 in Big Ten dual meets.

How about that Carter Starocci? The PSU red-shirt frosh came up big in the Nittany Lion win Sunday over Michigan. Area fans will remember watching his wrestling for Erie Cathedral Prep in the Altoona AAA Regionals on his way to two PIAA championships.

Burrell in District 7 just won their 15th straight WPIAL Class AA Team title. Along with Reynolds, Brookville, and Southern Columbia, they continue to be a factor in the PIAA Team Championships.

My Facebook ‘Tom’s Wrestling Page’ draws closer to 10,000 members with followers including many prominent coaches and wrestlers across the nation. It is a closed group, but if you are on Facebook and a wrestling fanatic, simply request to join. Rub your elbows with the likes of Wade Schalles, Kevin Dresser, Lee Kemp, Stan Dziedzic, Dave Adams, Ron Pifer, Ralph Cindrich and many more.

Midd-West coach Dale Franquet, as you may have heard, was severely injured recently at his prison guard duties. Despite the loss of an eye, Franquet returned to coach his team this past weekend in sectionals. You just cannot keep a great man down. Anyone wishing to send a nice note to Dale, send to 295 Water Tower Rd, Middleburg, PA 17812. I had a call from Ed Branish, former Philipsburg wrestler and long-retired coach from Towanda, asking for Dale’s address. Ed is in his 90s but still following wrestling.One of his wrestler was Tony Yaniello, former Tyrone coach, who is now coaching Shippensburg HS. Shipp is known as ‘The Hounds’ which has endeared them to PA Chapter HOF 2021 inductee Rich Vetock.

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