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National high school wrestling news, notes, updates (3/11/2024)

Ohio and Pennsylvania state tournaments bring a close to the 2023-24 high school wrestling season

The book closed on the 2023-2024 High School Wrestling Season when the final whistle blew on Sunday night in Ohio. Pennsylvania concluded its season a day earlier, with a tournament that featured a number of surprise results.

We will recap the happenings from these events below, and then our next order of business will be final rankings starting later this week. The postseason tournaments start flying this weekend coming up with USA Wrestling’s 16U, Junior, and Girls Folkstyle Nationals in Cedar Falls, IA on March 15-17.

Faith Christian Academy tops Bishop McCort for Pennsylvania AA Tournament title

Pennsylvania’s AA Tournament came down to Faith Christian Academy and Bishop McCort with Faith Christian Academy adding the tournament crown to their dual meet haul from earlier this season. In the state dual final, the Lions won 46-18. The tournament tally was 167-151.5 in their favor. The 167 points is a new tournament record.

Faith Christian Academy crowned two champions to McCort’s three but placed nine total wrestlers to McCort’s seven.

Winning gold for the Lions were No. 1 Joey Bachmann (106) and No. 8 Adam Waters (172). Bachmann, a freshman, defeated No. 2 Dominic Deputy (Chestnut Ridge), 6-1. Waters, a sophomore, locked down his second title in two trips with a first period fall of Northwestern Lehigh’s Luke Fugazzotto, 1:41.

Coming up short in their title quests were No. 13 Max Stein (152) and Cael Weidemoyer (160, No. 23 at 157).

Faith Christian Academy won the 2024 Pennsylvania Class AA state tournament after winning dual meet state title earlier.

Faith Christian Academy won the 2024 Pennsylvania Class AA state tournament after winning dual meet state title earlier.

Pennsylvania uses a set of weight classes that are not common across the nation with only 13 weight classes. One of the quirks of this is they have a 160-pound weight class. Most states have 157 and 165. We are not doing separate 160-pound rankings for just a few states so those wrestlers get placed at the weight they’ve competed at when they step out of state. For Weidemoyer, that was 157. Some of the other 160lbers, competed at 165, so that’s where they live in the rankings.

No. 24 Mark Effendian was third at 285 for the Lions. Placing fourth were honorable mention Chase Hontz (152) and Jason Singer (215). No. 7 Gauge Botero was sixth at 121 and Cody Wagner placed seventh at 189. Botero fell to No. 5 Louie Gill (Reynolds) in the quarters then was upset by Bishop McCort’s unranked Lincoln Sledzianowski, 2-1, in the consolation semis before forfeiting the fifth-place bout.

Securing top honors for Bishop McCort were No. 2 Jax Forrest (127), No. 2 Bo Bassett (139), and No. 4 Melvin Miller (152). Forrest exacted quick revenge on No. 12 Chris Vargo of Bentworth, mud sliding his foe with a 15-0 tech-fall, a week after dropping a 13-7 decision to Vargo.

Bassett destroyed everyone he crossed paths with including a 21-6 technical fall of Cameron Mingee (Littlestown) in the finals. On his path there, Bassett registered falls of 44 and 43 seconds, plus a 20-5 tech in the semis.

Miller worked much harder for his glory, edging Stein 2-1, in the finals and going into overtime in the quarterfinals and semis with Brady Collins (Clearfield), 8-6, and Cameron Milheim (Warrior Run), 5-3.

Other Crushers earning hardware were Sledzianowski with a bronze. At 160, Devon Magro (No. 17 at 157) also secured a bronze. No. 13 Mason Gibson was fourth at 133 and Jackson Butler finished eighth at 145.

Frazier’s No. 3 Run Lawrence joined an elite club by becoming the 14th four-time state champion in Pennsylvania history with a 6-3 decision of No. 7 Austin Johnson (Muncy).

Montgomery crowned two champions in the Harer brothers with sophomore Brandt (No. 10) authoring a mild upset of No. 8 Camden Baum (Bishop McDevitt) in his title bout at 133. Senior Conner (No. 4 at 157) edged Weidemoyer, 4-3, at 160 for his second straight crown.

Warrior Run’s No. 22 Reagan Milheim didn’t have to wait long to avenge a loss from last week’s regions over No. 21 Mason Barvitskie (Southern Columbia), 3-1, at 145.

Central Valley’s honorable mention Brennan Morgan picked off Effendian, 5-1, in the quarters, and then downed No. 23 Brody Kline (Berks Catholic), 6-4, in the 285-pound finals. Two unranked wrestlers met at 189 with Huntingdon’s Andrew McMonagle winning a 7-6 match over Southern Columbia’s Garrett Garcia.

No. 3 Ayden Smith (Notre Dame-Green Pond) posted a 7-4 win over Trinity’s Will Detar at 114 for the senior’s second consecutive crown. Northern Lebanon’s No. 6 Aaron Seidel, a junior, also beat an unranked foe for a second straight championship, 8-0, over Greyson Music (Bishop McDevitt). Music upset Gill, 7-5, in the semis.

Before we move on to AAA, we want to shine a light on unranked Charlie Robson from Conwell Egan. Robson beat two honorable mention grapplers, Cyrus Hurd (North East) and Hunter Gould (Conneaut), plus took out McCort’s Gibson in the consolation finals.

The AAA title was secured by Bethlehem Catholic over Nazareth, 95.5-78.5. The AAA division is deeper as evidenced by the winning team only having five placers and the runners-up, just three.

Bethlehem’s titlists were No. 18 Keanu Dillard (121) and No. 2 Kollin Rath (152). Both won their second championship in a row. Dillard, a sophomore, is now on pace to join the four-timer club after a 3-1 overtime decision of Franklin Regional’s Tyler Kapusta. Rath, who is a junior, edged No. 7 Collin Gaj (Quakertown), 3-2. Rath previously beat Gaj in the tiebreaker period in the finals of the Beast of the East.

Rounding out Catholic’s placers are Shane McFillin (4th at 145), Marco Frinzi (6th at 139), and James Deluise who was seventh at 189.

Two of Nazareth’s three placers won gold and the other, Jack Campbell, was fifth at 139. No. 11 Tahir Parkins won a 9-2 match with Tyler Adams (York Suburban). No. 7 Sean Kinney’s 15-0 plastering of No. 20 Dean Bechtold (Owen J Roberts) at heavyweight gave him his third state title. Kinney was second the year he didn’t win it all.

Central Mountain’s No. 1 Luke Simcox backed up his regional final win over No. 2 Pierson Manville (State College), who was No. 1 until that loss, with a 4-1 decision in the tiebreaker frame.

State College did crown one champion at 160 in Asher Cunningham (No. 12 at 157). This bracket was perhaps the toughest of both divisions with five nationally ranked wrestlers, and three being ranked in the top ten.

Cunningham beat Central Dauphin’s Ryan Garvick (No. 10 at 165), 2-0, in the finals. Garvick beat Pottsville’s Nick Kunstek (No. 8 at 165) to reach the finals.

Speaking of upsets. 107 and 114 on the AAA side had some big ones. No. 1 Santino Sloboda (Butler, 114) fell to the sixth spot after suffering his first losses of the season, the first being to unranked Curtis Nelson (Ridley), 6-4, in the semis. In the consolation rounds, Sloboda lost to two more unranked wrestlers, Kaedyn Williams (Manheim Township) and Connor Lenehan (Council Rock South).

Sloboda was ranked 19th when he beat the previous No. 1 Landon Sidun (Norwin) at the regions. Without any losses on his sheet, it made sense to promote Sloboda. While he fell back to earth this weekend at states, Sidun got back on track winning the 114-pound title with a 6-3 win over Nelson.

We had been tipped off to keep an eye on Cedar Cliff’s Aiden Herndon, but throughout the long season, despite some quality wins, Herndon never picked up a signature win that would have allowed him to crack the rankings. While he didn’t win it all, losing to No. 10 Dominick Morrison (Hatboro Horsham), 2-1, in the finals, Herndon did etch some big wins onto his resume.

The first came in the round of 16 over No. 11 Alexander Diaz (Council Rock North), 1-0. In the semis, Herndon needed overtime, but pinned No. 23 Max Tancini (Perkiomen Valley), 7:40.

The finalists at 127 both pulled off upsets to get there as Northampton’s Trey Wagner won a 1-0 battle over No. 17 Andrew Binni (Canon-McMillan) and Daniel Boone’s Dean Houser beat No. 10 Eren Sement (Council Rock North), 6-3. Wagner defeated Houser, 5-1, for the state glory.

Daneil Boone did crown one champion with No. 2 Tucker Hogan claiming his second consecutive title at 189, with both title bout wins coming against No. 7 Cole Bartram (Northern York), this one, 5-2.

No. 3 Maddox Shaw (Thomas Jefferson) claimed a title this year after being a runner-up last season with an overtime 3-1 win versus No. 9 Dalton Perry (Central Mountain) at 139.

No. 14 Dean Bechtold (Owen J Roberts) also completed a title run a year after being second by pinning Abington Heights’ honorable mention Caleb Marzolino with three seconds left in the second period, 3:57.

Pine Richland’s Vaughn Spencer won a battle of unranked competitors at 172, 8-4, over Trinity’s Bode Morgan. Spencer decked honorable mention Sam Gautreau (Owen J Roberts) near the end of the second frame, 3:54, in the semis.

St. Edward, Graham, and Edison claim Ohio State titles

For brevity, we will dig into Ohio’s Division I, where the bulk of the national talent lies, and lightly touch on DII and DIII.

St. Edward claimed its ninth straight state tournament crown on the strength of eight finalists and four champs. Claiming gold were No. 9 Karson Brown (120), No. 14 Kade Brown (138), No. 8 Ryan Bennett (144), and Johny Slaper (215).

Karson won with an 11-7 decision of Oregon Clay’s Garrison Weisner. Kade took his title with a 10-3 win over No. 13 Charles Curtis (Massillon Perry). Curtis had beaten Kade at the OHSWCA State Duals, 13-8.

Bennett won a 1-0 encounter with No. 18 Omar Ayoub (Dublin Coffman) and Slaper also won a one-point match, 3-2, versus Moeller’s Will Adkins.

Placing second for St. Edward was No. 13 Ethan Timar (113), Adam Butler (132), No. 16 Tyrel Miller (175), and No. 14 Jarrel Miller (190). Khimari Manns (126) and Aiden Peterson (165) were fourth. Lucan O’Brien was fifth at 150 and Bradley Eaton placed sixth at 157.

Perrysburg was second, almost 100 points behind St. Edward (226.5-137.5). Perrysburg’s gold medalists were No. 14 Grey Burnett (113), No. 19 Cole Evans (126), and No. 2 Marcus Blaze (132). Burnett and Evans avenged losses from a week ago to their rivals.

Burnett beat Timar, 3-2, after dropping a 6-5 decision last week. Evan completely turned the table on No. 18 Phoenix Contos (Waite), winning 7-3, after dropping a 9-1 major decision last week. Blaze pinned St. Edward’s Butler as time was about to expire in the second period, 3:57.

Massillon Perry was close behind Perrysburg in third with 132.5 points. Perry’s lone champion was No. 13 Aidan Fockler, who beat Riverside’s Antonio Bottiggi, 8-2, for the heavyweight crown.

Both of St. Edward’s Miller brothers suffered upsets in their final’s losses. At 175, Tyler was handled by No. 18 Carson Thomas (La Salle), 10-3. Jarrel’s loss was more unexpected as he was picked off by honorable mention Matt Kowalski (Springboro), 6-1. At 190.

Highland’s Brandon Bickerton was third at last week’s Districts, while Perrysburg’s Ayden Dodd won the weight class. Both are honorable mention wrestlers who have moved around each other all year in the rankings. Bickerton will be the higher ranked man now after his 6-5 title bout win over Dodd at 106.

No. 21 Eugen Harney (Sycamore) blanked Olentangy Liberty’s Tyler Deericks, 5-0, in the 157-pound final. Deericks used a quarter final overtime upset, 4-2, of No. 16 Jeremy Ginter (Whitmer) to propel his run to the finals.

The last two DI champs were heavily favored with No. 3 Jaxon Joy enjoying a comfortable major decision win over Moeller’s Londen Murphy at 150 and No. 3 Ethan Birden (Dublin Coffman) ending up in a dog fight with Landen Johnson (Massillon Perry), 4-3.

Graham won its 23rd consecutive state tournament title and 25th overall. Three champions and six total placers gave them the edge over second place Buckeye (135.5-125).

Winning gold for Graham were Hayden Hughes (138), No. 12 Brogan Tucker (144), and No. 17 Gunner Cramblett (175). Placing second was Bryce Kohler (165). Jake Landis (106) and Blaine Demarco (126) were fourth.

Buckeye’s four champs paced the field with titles being captured by honorable mention Blake Bartos (113), Colyn Limbert (120), Kaden King (157), and No. 10 Eddie Neitenbach (190).

No. 4 Max Shulaw (Columbus DeSales) pinned Jace Knous (Wapakoneta) in 3:08 at 215. And the last ranked wrestler who won a crown in DII was No. 14 Brody Saccoccia (Steubenville) with a 13-9 decision of St. Mary Memorial’s Bo Hertenstein.

Edison won the DIII glory 94-85.5 over Barnesville.

Edison’s two champs were Kohen Horvath (165) and Luke James (175). Barnesville also had two titlists, Reese Stephen (150) and Skyler King (157).

Ranked wrestlers winning states in DIII were honorable mention Adam Mattin (Delta) at 113. No. 9 Dillon Campbell (Legacy Christian) at 132, and No. 11 Brodie Dominique (Archbold) at 144.