Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Bellefonte wins Northwest Regional; crowns three champs

BEA’S COEN BAINEY, left, defeated Damon Michaels of Elizabeth Forward, 7-5, at 113 pounds to finish in third place at the Southwest Regional scholastic wrestling tournament.

Finishing third at the District 6 Class 3A Tournament must not have sat well with the Bellefonte wrestling team because it had a heck of a Northwest Regional Tournament on Saturday at the Altoona Fieldhouse.

The Red Raiders repeated as regional champions by 4.5 points over Williamsport, 119-114.5, crowned three champions and had a second-placer.

“I thought the guys wrestled really well from districts to regionals,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said. “Give credit to the entire coaching staff. We were able to work on adjustments. Certainly you’d like to win all the matches, but our guys made a big jump in one week.”

“They did a really nice job. They rebounded well from last week,” said State College coach Ryan Cummins, whose team won a District 6 title before finishing in fourth place at the regional with 110 points, one champion and three runners-up. “Congratulations to them.”

There were no Centre County champions in the rugged Southwest Regional at IUP, but there were 10 West Super Regional qualifiers.

Here’s a closer look at both tournaments:

NORTHWEST REGIONAL

Bellefonte senior Lane Aikey (120), junior Jude Swisher (132) and senior Ethan Richner (160) all claimed their third regional titles. State College senior Carson Manville (189) earned his first title.

Swisher’s title was arguably the most satisfying as he defeated State College’s Pierson Manville, 7-6, in the finals to cap off a 3-0 tournament performance. Manville beat Swisher, 2-1, in the District 6 finals and was voted the Outstanding Wrestler.

“That was an extremely tough weight class,” Maney said, “and unfortunately there had to be a loser in the match with him and Manville. It’s just kind of one of those matches where as coaches we sit back and say ‘Boy, they’re two really good wrestlers.’ Jude puts an extreme amount of time into the sport. No one puts more time in than him in trying to get better.”

Swisher hiked his record to 20-1. Manville went on to finish third, but only the top two wrestlers at every weight advanced to the Super Regional.

“It hurt not getting Pierson through, of course,” Cummins said. “It’s so back and forth (between Manville and Swisher). They’re both really skilled, tough, young wrestlers.”

Aikey, who was 0-0 entering the postseason, went 3-0 with a pin in 51 seconds, a 15-0 technical fall and an 8-0 major decision over Altoona’s Caleb Fasick in the finals.

“It’s a credit to his mental fortitude and mental toughness,” Maney said. “He unfortunately didn’t get a regular season, but he’s done what he’s had to do each week.”

Richner went 2-0 after a bye in the quarterfinals, recording a pin in 2:33 in the semifinals and a 15-0 technical fall over General McLane’s Jackson Spires in the finals.

After getting a bye in the quarters, Carson Manville (9-0) rolled up an 18-3 technical fall in the semifinals and eked out a 2-1 tiebreaker win over Bellefonte’s Ethan Rossman in the finals.

“Carter did very well,” Cummins said. “Rossman is another good wrestler. Carter gets a little better every week. He’s getting there.”

“We made some improvements for sure from districts to regionals,” Maney said of Rossman. “Now it’s just a matter of him believing and wrestling confidently. Manville is one of the best guys in the state and the country for that matter.”

State College’s Owen Woolcott (126), Lance Urbas (172) and Ty Price (215) finished second.

Woolcott went 2-1 with a pin and decision before losing to Central Mountain’s Luke Simcox, 10-2, in the finals. Urbas won 18-4 and 9-1 before losing, 7-1, to Mifflin County’s former Penn State commit Trey Kibe in the finals. Price went 3-1, losing 5-1 in the finals to Cathedral Prep’s John Campbell and winning his true second bout, 7-4, over Central Mountain’s Nikolas Miller.

“I think they did a tremendous job,” Cummins said of his second-place finishers. “I’m really proud of them.”

Carter Weaverling (152) joined teammate Pierson Manville in finishing third. Bellefonte’s Aidan O’Shea (113) finished third, while Garrett Choates (106) took fourth.

The Red Raiders and Little Lions will get ready a brutal Super Regional, which starts at 8:30 a.m. for qualifiers from the Northwest, Southwest and Southcentral. The top four at every weight qualify for the PIAA Championships in Hershey next Saturday.

“Each week gets a little bit more exciting,” Maney said. “We’re bringing in the WPIAL and the Southcentral Region, which have always been notoriously good. Now there’s a state medal on the line. We’re looking forward to it.”

SOUTHWEST REGIONAL

St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy senior Zack Witmer (132) and Penns Valley senior Malachi DuVall (172) were the closest to winning titles among the four Centre County teams at the Southwest Regional.

Witmer, a three-time state placewinner who hadn’t won a regional title since his freshman year, won his first two bouts 8-0 and 14-9 before getting pinned by Forest Hills’ 2019 state champ Jackson Arrington in 3:57. Arrington pinned Witmer in the district finals.

“I was hoping we’d close the gap a little bit more at 132,” WolfPack coach Brian Witmer said, “but he’s a stud. We have two weeks to close that gap, but we’re moving on. Hopefully we’ll go on to states and get a shot at that title.”

DuVall (12-1), a two-time state medalist and first-time regional finalist, won his first two bouts by decision and major decision. In the finals, he was losing 7-6 to Frazier’s Rune Lawrence (24-1) when the freshman sensation pinned him in 5:37.

Philipsburg-Osceola didn’t have a finalist, but all four of the Mounties qualified for the Super Regional. Seniors Hunter Weitoish (160) and 2020 regional champ Parker Moore (215) placed fourth, while freshman Marcus Gable (120) and junior Austin Foster (138) finished fifth. P-O finished in eighth place among 44 teams represented.

“It’s really exciting,” P-O coach Brad Pataky said. “Four is the most we’ve had in a long time. I’m grateful that we’re even able to wrestle in the postseason. Even in the pandemic, they were able to overcome a lot of adversity today and move on to the next round.”

The top five at every weight qualified for the Super Regional.

Bald Eagle Area, which finished in 13th place, had all three of its wrestlers place in the top five. Sophomore Coen Bainey

(113) finished third, while senior Cooper Gilham (126) was fourth and freshman Lucas Fye (106) was fifth.

“The goal was to move all three on to next week, and that’s what we did. We accomplished that goal,” BEA coach Ron Guenot said. “In a couple places, it would have been nice to finish a little higher up on the podium.”

Bainey had one of the biggest wins in the tournament when he defeated Chestnut Ridge’s returning state runner-up Calan Bollman, 5-1, in the consolation semifinals. Bollman beat Bainey to win the 106-pound regional title last year.

“That was a big win over Bollman,” Guenot said, “especially coming off of a loss. I’m really proud the way he rebounded.”

St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s Amonn Ohl (138) finished third.

Penns Valley’s Ben Sharer (285) came up a win short with a sixth-place finish.

The area Class 2A qualifiers will now get ready to return to IUP’s Kovalchick Center for the West Super Regional. The Northwest Regional qualifiers join the battle to see who will place in the top four at every weight and advance to the PIAA Championships next Friday in Hershey.

“It’s going to be tough, obviously,” Guenot said. “We’re just going to have to take it one match at a time like we did (here). We’re going to watch some film this week, fine-tune some things at this point and we’ll be ready to go Saturday morning.”