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District VI crowns five champions at state wrestling tournament

While local entries had to settle for experience and goals for next year, five wrestlers in District VI did claim gold medals over the weekend in Hershey at the PIAA State Wrestling Championships.
Bellwood-Antis has junior Will Edwards, who lost two one-point decisions at Regionals and Tyrone has all but one of six Regional qualifiers back in 2003-04, including state qualifiers Thad Westley and Terry Tate.
Tyrone coach Blair Packer stated he thought both Westley and Tate were capable of placing at states this year and presented a challenge to all the Eagle wrestlers that the opportunity is there if they work hard to improve.
Meanwhile for five district wrestlers, including four at the Class AA level, their reward this year is gold.
Freshman Garrett Scott (33-2) made Juniata Valley history by bringing home the championship at 119. After returning state champ Jake Strayer got pinned in a first round upset, district hopes seemed flatter than the Texas plains at the weight class, but Scott romped through four wins including a pin in the finals over four-time state qualifier Matt Guerrieri (37-4) of Brandywine Heights. Guerrieri came into the finals with an overall record of 145-30, with a second place in 2001 and third place last year. With Scott leading 6-2 early in the third period of the championship match, Scott worked a double underhook from his knees and took Guerrieri to his back for the fall in 5:56 to punctuate the gold medal performance. The Hornets’ best previous finish had been third place finishes for present Juniata Valley coach Brad Boyd in 1987, and Garrett’s cousin Brock Scott last year.
At 160, Jared Ricotta (37-0) secured West Branch’s first state championship since 1998, and third overall. Ricotta trailed Carlo Mercadante (35-1) of Wilksbarre Meyers, 4-1, when he caught Mercadante in a kind of reverse cradle, grabbing an arm and a leg and stacking his opponent on his shoulders for the quick fall in 1:14. Ricotta started slowly with a 4-2 decision in his opening match, then moved into another gear with three straight pins for the title.
Josh Kirsch of Mount Union, improved a sixth place finish in 2002, all the way to a state championship this year. Kirsch (41-0) became Class AA’s first 215-pound champion in the first year the weight class existed, with a technical fall over Jerry Afari (39-1) of Columbia. Kirsch and Afari traded throws early, before the Mount Union senior took Afari down a second time and added two sets of three-point nearfalls to close out the first period in control 11-3. Afari choose neutral with both wrestlers on their feet to begin the second period and Kirsch notched another takedown and five more back points to close out the 18-3 tech fall. Kirsch sliced through the weight class with two pins and a 10-8 win over returning state champ Matt Wilcox (36-5) 10-8 to collect the Outstanding Wrestler Award voted by the media.
Nate Morris (32-0) of Central Cambria, capped a perfect senior season with a State Championship at 275. Morris, a District VI and Southwest regional champ became the school’s first state champion with a win by disqualification. Morris won a pair of pins and a 3-2 decision to reach the finals. The Red Devil senior, who finished fifth at the 2002 state championships, was in complete control, leading Chris Snyder (34-2) of Milton 5-1 and 11-1 in the finals, after the first two periods. Morris built that advantage to 15-3 with a pair of final-period takedowns. With 1:06 to wrestle, the match was stopped on a Snyder injury to his upper arm. The match was officially declared a disqualification win for Morris, when Snyder threw his headgear and cursed after his coach, upon conferring with the mat trainer decided to stop Snyder from wrestling any further. Morris finished fifth in 2002.
District VI wrestlers who medaled by placing in the top eight at their respective weight class included: 103 – Adam Whetstone, Claysburg-Kimmel (32-6), Soph., eighth place; 112 – Shane Valko, Forest Hills, (41-5), Soph., fourth place; Brock Scott, Juniata Valley, (32-4), Jr., sixth place, 119 – Jake Strayer Forest Hills, (45-1), Jr., third place, 135 – Nick Thomas, Cambria Heights, (29-5), Sr., eighth place; 160 – Rob Sakmar, Richland, (36-4), Sr.. third place; 275 – Jon Neese, Marion Center, (31-4), Jr., fourth place.
In AAA, Matt Kocher (39-1) of State College, improved on a fourth place finish in last year’s state tournament to claim the only District VI big school championship. Clint Shirk (40-5) of Bald Eagle Area, at 125, and Tyler McCall (39-2) of Central Mountain, at 189, finished in third place. Kyle Fluke (37-5) of State College, at 103, Mike DePelligrini (24-8) of State College, at 145, and Joel Yoder (39-4) of Bald Eagle Area, at 275 all finished fourth. Casey Moore (27-6) of Central Mountain, at 119, and Brandon Guenot (36-6) of Bald Eagle Area, at 145, finished sixth.
AA Notes: Strayer, getting pinned in his first match, after winning the 103-pound title in 2002, placed third by winning five straight consolation matches, while the wrestler who upset him, Ryan Storm of Donegal went 0-2 following his big win to fall out of the tourney in the second round consis….George Childers, who wrestles for Berlin-Brothersvalley performed a very unusual feat this year, lettering at three different schools! Childers, who is a senior at Shade-Central High School, lettered in football and track at Shade, and because his school has no wrestling or baseball programs, lettered in wrestling at Berlin Brothersvalley, and in baseball at Shanksville-Stoneycreek High School…. The Southwest Regional, which District VI wrestles in at UPJ, had the only two wrestlers to repeat as state champs- Joe Makara (38-4) of Burrell won at 125, after winning at 119 last year and Freedom’s Kurt Brenner (38-2) repeated for the second straight year at 171….In addition to Scott and Morris, Kyle Kemmerer (39-4) of Brandywine Heights, who won at 112, Scott Rendos (42-0) of Brockway, who won at 140, and Jason Mitkowski (37-1) of Nanticoke, who won at 189, each became his school’s’ first state champion.