By Pete Chiodo
When talking about the cream of the crop in Class AAA wrestling in District 10, for years now that has, more or less, meant General McLane and McDowell and Cathedral Prep.
And as the Triple-A championship tournament wrapped up Saturday evening at Central Tech High School, that trio indeed lined right up in front.
General McLane (216 points) edged McDowell (202) for the top spot in the team standings, gaining a measure of redemption after losing to the Trojans in the D-10 duals earlier this month. Cathedral Prep (131) took third.
Then in the fourth spot, there was Meadville. And while the Bulldogs, who scored 80 team points, didn’t have any individual champions this weekend, head coach Barry Anderson saw enough positives to believe that in the years to come his team could well be in the conversation with those top three.
“It’s a young team,” said Anderson. “I only had one senior on the team, and he’s going (to the Northwest Region tournament). And I have a junior that’s going. And the rest are freshmen and sophomores. So I couldn’t be happier with that. I’ve got some young guys going to regionals. And that’s how you build a winning program, by bringing those guys down there early.”
That senior he spoke of is 138-pounder Zach Luben. He was the top finisher for the Bulldogs yesterday, finishing second. He beat General McLane’s Ken Stoll 8-4 in the semifinals and then lost to McDowell’s Shawn Spearman 14-4 in the title match.
Freshman 120-pounder Kyle Luben was the next highest finisher for the ’Dogs. He placed third, falling to Cathedral Prep’s John Ciotti 2-0 in the semis before bouncing back with a pair of pins in the consolation bracket. In the third-place match, Luben pinned Central Tech’s Jose Lopez in 3:59.
Sophomore Aaron Ehrgott added a fourth-place finish at 106. Junior Louis Crawford finished fourth at 170. Ben Bish, a freshman, was fourth at 182. And Luke Carr, a sophomore 220-pounder, also finished fourth.
Those six will represent Meadville at the Northwest Region championships, which take place March 1 and 2 at Altoona High School.
“I brought two (to regionals) last year,” said Anderson. “So, that’s a vast improvement. I had a lot of kids with winning records this year. They showed up to wrestle. They wrestled to their abilities and they left it all out there on the mat. They got the job done, in most cases. And the ones that didn’t were close, or improved. And that’s all any coach can ask for.
“So, this was definitely a good outing for Meadville. And it is something to build on.”
Lancers take the title
After climbing down from the top of the medal stand, General McLane’s Tyler Hendricks was discussing his 5-0 victory over McDowell’s Kyle Rogers in the District 10 Class AAA 170-pound title bout when the crowd in the stands behind him exploded in cheers.
When informed that his teammate, Alex Thayer, had just pinned Warren’s Chris McNeal for the 195-pound championship; Hendricks’ eyes got big.
“Really?” he said.
And then he said, “Yes!“
The Lancers wanted that team title.
It was just two weeks ago that McLane was defeated by McDowell 34-19 in the District 10 Class AAA Team Duals. This weekend’s individual Triple-A championships gave McLane an opportunity to one-up the rival Trojans.
They took that opportunity, edging McDowell 216-202.
“It’s not real easy to re-focus that late in the season, after we lost to McDowell,” said Lancers head coach Ryan Cook, who was also awarded Class AAA’s Coach of the Year at the tournament. “Some teams kind of, you know, tuck their tail and don’t work as hard at practice. Because we were really gunning for (the team duals). That was a big star on our calendar.
“But, the way they responded today, kudos to them. The kids want to win. The kids work hard. They show us every day in practice that they want to win. And it’s fun to watch.”
Both McLane and McDowell had five champions. And both had 12 wrestlers among the top four in their weight class to advance to the Northwest Region tournament.
However, McLane managed to edge the Trojans after winning all three head-to-head matchups in the finals, putting together some nice finishes in the wrestle-backs, and by scoring some key bonus points throughout the tournament.
The first McLane-McDowell matchup in the finals was at 106 where Joe Wheeling defeated Charlie Lenox 3-0. It was Wheeling’s first D-10 title after finishing as runner up the last two years.
The next head-to-head battle wasn’t until 170 pounds. And at this point, it was still anybody’s tournament. How-ever, McLane took it away with three straight championship victories, including two over opponents from McDowell.
First, Hendricks had his 5-0 win over Rogers at 170. Then at 182, Chris Laird scored an 8-3 decision over McDowell’s Andrew Bradley.
Finally, Thayer notched his fall over McNeal in 57 seconds to win the 195-pound bracket.
“I took fourth here last year at 182,” said Thayer. “It feels great. I wrestled (McNeal) last year and he tried something similar and I pinned him last year too. ... He tried to throw me with not a lot behind it, and I slipped out of it and stuck him.”
Also gaining a first-place medal for the Lancers was Mike Sutton at 152 pounds, who nipped Cathedral Prep’s Dan Krysiak in a narrow 3-2 battle.
“(Krysiak) is a real tough opponent,” said Sutton. “He has good hips, good hand control. And this time it turned out my way. It was a lot of fun. It was a tough match. Hopefully, I’ll be seeing him again at regionals.”
Also advancing for the Lancers is Hunter Hendricks (second at 113 pounds); Keller Watkins (second, 126); Deane Twitchell (fourth, 132); Ken Stoll (third, 138); Ossie Bowers (third, 160); Jake Baker (third, 220) and Ian Mallory (third, 285).
Rockets advance four
The Titusville wrestling team will bring four wrestlers to the Northwest Region tournament.
The Rockets’ top finisher was 160-pounder Ehrin Lee, who took second. He bested McLane’s Ossie Bowers 7-3 in the semifinals before falling to McDowell’s Tyree Spearman 7-4 in the title bout.
Dalton Burns earned third place after an exciting 6-4 overtime victory over General McLane’s Deane Twitchell. And Tyler Nicole, at 195 pounds, earned a third-place finish due to an injury default over Central Tech’s Seth Brown. Kaleb Chase, the Rockets’ 113-pounder, added a fourth-place finish.