CANONSBURG - Mifflin County's debut in the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament was a rousing success. The Huskies had four wrestlers earn place-winner status by finishing among the top eight in their weight class.
"I expected us to have some place-winners," Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin said when asked of his expectations coming into the tournament. "I don't like to put a number on how many, but I did really think we had some kids who could come here and place in spite of not having any seeded wrestlers."
Martin entered 12 wrestlers and four came home with a medal.
Sentinel photo by Ken Wunderley
Mifflin County’s Noah Stewart, top, rides Paul Dunn of Bethel Park in the 152-pound seventh-place bout at the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament Saturday. Stewart won a 5-2 decision.
"This is a very prestigious tournament, so I'm very proud of our kids," Martin said. "The four kids who placed have had an outstanding season to this point. Their perseverance in practice and constant work ethic paid off."
Martin felt the King of the Mountain Tournament, held two weeks earlier, prepared his squad for the Powerade Tournament, which is considered the third-toughest tournament in the country.
"Our four place-winners also placed at the King of the Mountain Tournament, which is a tough tournament in itself," Martin said. "King of the Mountain has fewer teams than this, but the level of competition is very close. As far as being prepared for a tough grueling two-day tournament, they were ready."
Sophomore Hayden Hidlay placed fourth in the 138-pound weight class after suffering a 7-2 loss in the semifinals to Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer, who claimed his second title in three years.
Hidlay posted a 4-3 win against Hempfield's Joey Alessandro in the consolation semifinals. He then faced Brookville's Brock Zacherl in the match for third place and dropped a 3-1 decision.
Sophomore Noah Stewart finished seventh at 152 pounds. After losing in Friday's quarterfinals, Stewart defeated Jake Martin of Ripley High School in West Virginia, 3-1, in the fifth round of consolations to assure his place-winner finish. He then lost 1-0 to Latrobe's Jake Shaffer, but rebounded with a 5-2 win over Bethel Park's Paul Dunn in the match for seventh place.
Sophomore Trey Hartsock placed eighth at 182 pounds. After losing in Friday's quarterfinals, Hartsock became a place-winner with his 9-3 win against Franklin Regional's John Wohlin in the fifth round of consolations. He was then pinned by Cedar Cliff's Josh Colello dropping him to the seventh-place match which he lost 10-2 to Nick Miller of Maryland's Good Counsel.
Timmy Pearce, the Huskies lone senior entry, placed eighth at 195 pounds. After losing in Friday's quarterfinals, Pearce earned place-winner status with a 4-1 win against Erie Prep's Phil Selker. He then lost a heartbreaking 1-0 decision to Mt. Lebanon's Bakhtiyar Zaynullaev, thus dropping to the seventh-place match where he was pinned by Tony Adkins of Ohio's St. Vincent/St. Mary's.
"We only brought one senior, Timmy Pierce," Martin said. "Our future is very bright. Just improve every week and ever year so that hopefully we're competing with the top teams in this tournament. That would be the ideal situation."
Mifflin County finished 27th out of 46 teams in the teams standings, finishing with 70.5 points.
Martin is already planning a comeback to next year's tournament.
"This is an outstanding tournament that is well run," Martin said. "We're definitely going to come back."
Overall, it was a night of repeat winners at Canon-McMillan High School. Nine wrestlers entered the finals with at least one Powerade title to their credit; claimed another title in the 46th annual showcase of the top wrestlers in the country.
The first match of the finals featured a pair of returning champions as Kemerer made his third consecutive appearance in the finals and claimed his second title with a 3-2 win against Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph at 138 pounds.
Kittanning's Jason Nolf followed with his second title, a 13-7 win against Franklin Regional's Josh Maruca in the 145-pound final.
The next repeat champion was Kennard Dale's Chance Marsteller, who became only the fifth four-time champion in the tournament's history with a 17-1 technical fall of Chartiers Valley's Noah Wilps in the 170-pound final.
Latrobe's Zack Zavatsky added his name to the two-time champion list with a 3-0 shutout of Mt. Lebanon's Kellan Stout in the 182-pound final.
In another battle of returning Powerade champions, Luke Pletcher of Latrobe defeated Parkland's Ethan Lizak in the 120-pound final. Scalise claimed his first title with a 3-0 win in the 160-pound final against Penn-Trafford's Devin Austin.
The last of the repeat champions was Solanco's Thomas Haines, who made a third appearance in the finals and claimed his second title with an 8-1 win against Erie McDowell's Scot Augustine at 285.
With six wrestlers in the finals, and five champions, Franklin Regional captured the team title with 236.5 points. Latrobe was second with 206.