SOL Wrestling Notebook: PIAA 3A Preview with Predictions

Glenn Kaiser makes his predictions for each weight class in the upcoming PIAA 3A Individual Wrestling Championships, which begins Thursday in Hershey. Stay tuned!


By Glenn Kaiser

When SOL wrestlers toe the line Thursday afternoon in the Giant Center for the start of the PIAA AAA Individual Wrestling Championships, it will all be on the line as they hope to garner precious medals.  For many, the dream of reaching the state championships have been realized, and for others the quest for gold continues.  Don’t be fooled, the accomplishment of reaching the ultimate test in wrestling has been no easy task, as Pennsylvania’s best will assemble in each weight class to line up on the podium.  No match will be easy, in fact every match will be a battle, and a test of will and talent.  Only the strong will survive a very tough first day of competition in these 20-man brackets.

Look for many SOL wrestlers to advance to Friday’s quarterfinals and second round of consolations.  Josh Stillings is atop the 182-pound bracket as the #1 seed and looks to return to the state finals to capture a championship.  Other SOL grapplers are primed for deep runs as well. Here is a look at the weight classes and my predictions.  Since I am only .500 with my championships picks thru the SE Regional, don’t expect much better with my state picks, but for sure there will be surprises, upsets, and, of course, domination throughout the tournament.

106-pounds:  Two Council Rock wrestlers are here, and unfortunately, they are in the same bracket down low.  Kyle Waterman (CR South) at 41-4 will await the winner of CR North’s Kyle Hauserman (37-7) and Franklin Regional’s fellow freshman Carter Diebert (30-8) for his first opponent.  Don’t be surprised to see Waterman and Hauserman go at it again on Thursday evening in another epic battle.  Waterman comes in as the #2 seed after winning the SE Regional.  In the top half of the bracket looms Norwin’s undefeated Kurtis Phipps at 36-0. He is the favorite to win as the #1 seed.  PICK-Phipps over Tai-Reese Flemming (Bethlehem Liberty).

113-pounds:  Three wrestlers from the SOL National are wrestling in this weight class.  Max Mendez (CRS) is the #4 seed with a 33-7 record, and is hot after winning league, district and regional titles.  He will be a medalist; however, he will be tested in the semifinals by top seed Ryan Sullivan, a Shaler junior at 38-1.  Luke Lucerne (CRN) is 32-9 and should advance to the quarters to grapple Manheim Central’s undefeated Will Betancourt (32-0).  Neshaminy freshman Zach Martin (32-11) is down with Betancourt should he get by Hempfield’s Kyle Burkholder (35-4).  Lucerne and Mendez could meet again in Hershey for in a medal match or elimination match, my guess it will be a medal match.  PICK-Sullivan over Betancourt.

120-pounds:  CR South’s Shane Hanson-Ashworth is the lone SOL wrestler here. He is one of eight Golden Hawks that will compete this weekend in Hershey.  Hanson-Ashworth is 33-10, and he will need to crank it up this weekend if he plans to place.  He is headed for a showdown with Nazareth’s 35-5 Sean Pierson in the quarters.  Logan Macri (35-2), the #2 seed from Cannon Mac, is down below with Shane. Macri is my pick to win should they meet in the semis.  In the top half, it will be all Doug Zapf (DTW) shooting for his second gold medal.  PICK-Macri over Zapf.

126-pounds:  Truman’s Gunnar Fuss is the 5th seed as the SE Regional champ and is currently 33-2 in this loaded weight class.  Josh Stahl (Quakertown), who is having a great postseason at 24-9, is down below Fuss and should advance in his prelim bout but will run into Central Dauphin’s 45-1 Chris Wright there.  The #1 seed, North Hills’ Sam Hillegas (29-1), is the favorite, and should Fuss manage a run to the semis, he will see Hillegas.  Stahl and Fuss are good bets to medal but will need some big wins and a little luck to do so in my opinion in the most stacked weight class top to bottom.

PICK-Hillegas over Wright.

132-pounds:  Three of the hottest SOL wrestlers are positioned here.  CR South’s Ben Radner (31-10) fresh off a stunning SE Regional crown is up top in the same bracket as Quakertown freshman Dominic DeFalco (33-10).   D1 East champ and SE region runner-up Tyler Williams from Souderton brings a 30-7 record back to Hershey.  Williams is 1-1 versus Radner this postseason.  Williams is down below and will be tested out of the gate by Central Mountain’s Seth Andrus (31-4).  The top guns here are #1 Andrew Wert (41-3) from Central Dauphin and #2 Patrick Gould (East Stroudsburg South) at 28-3.  PICK-Wert over Gould.

138-pounds:  Cam Robinson (CRN) is the SE champ at 34-5 and could see Downingtown West’s Nick Lilley (38-10) in his first-round match.  He is up top with a group of strong grapplers from around the state.  He will need to be perfect to get to a semi match with undefeated Seth Koleno from Bald Eagle, the #1 seed with a perfect 34-0 record.  Council Rock South’s Eric Woloshyn (35-16) is battled tested, and will need all of his ammo to medal, but don’t count him out of a medal just yet.  PICK-#2 seed Ryan Anderson from BECCA who is only 19-3 over Koleno.

145-pounds:  Pennridge’s Evan Widing (33-10) finds himself up top with Nazareth returning state champ Sammy Sasso (34-1).  This is not a favorable draw for Widing, who finished fourth at the SE region.  He will be hard pressed to medal in a wide-open class besides Sasso, perhaps PA’s best wrestler.  Neshaminy’s Jackson Erb (35-3) did not fare well at regions finishing 5th, but will have a chance to medal in this weight class if he returns to early postseason form.

PICK-Sasso over Jobe Chisko (Penn Traford), just a hunch Chisko squeaks thru to the finals.

152-pounds:  Only the Golden Hawks Cole Flanagan (41-16) is here for the SOL.  He brings 57 bouts worth of experience to the Giant Center this season against great competition.  Flanagan will face tough competition in Hershey but can reach the podium.  PICK-Luke Kemmerer (Hempfield Area) over Jake Blumer (Kiski Area).

160-pounds:  Patrick O’Neill continues his quest for a medal for North Penn coming in as the SE champ with a talented group in this weight class.  O’Neill (32-7) will be tested early in his first- round match with Gerrit Niujenhuis (40-5) from Cannon Mac.  He’ll have to bring his A-game to Chocolate Town, USA, if he hopes to reach the podium.  PICK-Undefeated Carter Starocci (Erie Cathedral Prep) over Belle Vernon’s Zach Hartman (40-1).

170-pounds:  CR South has yet another wrestler alone here representing the SOL. It is Nik Korbich who comes in as the SE-5 with 46-matches at 37-11.  He is up top with three regional champs, one being defending state champion Trent Hidlay (Mifflin County), who is a perfect 39-0.  PICK-Hidlay will win his second title over Nazareth’s Cade Wilson (31-4).

182-pounds:  Josh Stillings (Pennridge) will not be denied a state title. He has mapped his path brilliantly over the past four years.  Stillings (27-1) has one loss on the season and is 100 percent healthy after an early season injury.  He is the clear- cut favorite up at 182 with Hidlay – who he lost to in the 170-pound final last year - down at 170.  Stillings is the top seed and will have work to do to reach the finals against South Central champ and #3 seed Blake Barrick (32-5) from Big Spring.  Stillings is joined by fellow SOL wrestlers in Alex Litz (Truman), who brings a 31-7 record into the Giant Center, along with Giani Gilch (CRS), who has had a phenomenal season racking up 31 wins in 50 matches.  PICK-Stillings over Barrick.

195-pounds:  William Tennent’s Yusuf Aladinov (37-9) is a pinning machine and is dangerous in this weight class with no undefeated wrestlers.  Souderton’s Bruno Stolfi (33-7) joins him here.  Aladinov and Stolfi are big and strong enough to medal if they get some breaks and wrestle their best.  PICK-District One’s top 195-pounder Elijah Jones (Boyertown) wins over State College’s Cole Urbas.

220-pounds:  This weight class is full of skilled wrestlers of various types, wrestlers that have bumped up from 195 during the regular season and wrestlers who are most likely heavyweights who have come down.  All in all, it’s a talented group of grapplers.  Hatboro-Horsham’s Nick Chapman (35-2) has something to prove with his second trip to states, down from 285 last-season.  He has a good draw with an opportunity to reach the semis and medal.  North Penn’s Owen Verespy (36-6) makes his second trip as well but has struggled as of late.  Chapman’s only losses are to Sun Valley’s Hunter Catka.  Catka suffered one defeat to Selinsgrove freshmen Nate Schon who is 26-0.  There will some big battles here.  PICK-Catka over Ship’s undefeated Cole Forrester (34-0).

HWT:  Ryan Cody (NP) has established himself as the best heavy in District One at 35-5.  He has knocked off Bensalem’s Nick Cooper (33-3) two weekends in a row.  Cody and Cooper should medal with their second chances in Chocolate Town, USA. Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Paolo DiSanto (26-9) finished 3rd at regions and will have to come up big if he plans to win matches here.  Cody will most likely meet a solid Garrett Zobel (LaSalle) in the quarters, and Cooper will run into Cathedral Preps Kawaun Deboe if he can down John Pineda (Easton) in first round action. PICK-Kiski’s Issac Reid over Preps’ Deboe.

The team competition will be fierce here in these individual championships. Unlike the PIAA dual team event, teams with the most wrestlers and talent will rise to the top.  CR South brings eight wrestlers to Hershey, the most from the SE Region. They will battle for a top-10 finish. CR North will be there with four wrestlers, and North Penn with three competitors.  North Penn, Pennridge, Truman, Souderton, Quakertown and Neshaminy all have two apiece.  Bethlehem Catholic is a slight favorite to win the title, but the western teams are loaded as well, so be wary of Cath Prep, Cannon Mac and Kiski area.  Nazareth will also be in contention from D11, along with Central Dauphin from central PA District III. 

Best of Luck to all of our SOL wrestlers, bring home the medals, especially gold.  All championship info can be found at