Huskies looking for state berths
The second phase of the tournament trail begins today in Altoona for Mifflin County and Juniata at the Northwest Regional Class 3A tournament.
Meanwhile, three Mid-West grapplers try to punch their tickets to states at the Northeast Class 2A regional in Williamsport.
The Huskies advanced 12 to regionals after a stellar performance that saw them crown six champions – Nic Allison (106), Kyler Everly (138), Ethan Kauffman (145), Anson Wagner (152), Trey Kibe (170), and Blaine Davis (285).
Also qualifying were Hunter Johnson (113), Derek Burk (120), Trey Shoemaker (160), Brycen Hassinger (182), Jacob Krepps (195), and Haydn Crum (220). Burk and Crum placed second and the rest all took third.
The champs and qualifiers tied a school record.
The Indians brought two – Casey Smith at 106 and Cameron Sweigart at 120 – back to Altoona, hoping to advance.
Each step up the ladder is harder. Districts 4, 8, 9 and 10 join the party and making it even more difficult, only the top three in each weight advance.
For the Mustangs, junior Avery Bassett (145), freshman Connor Heckman (113) and senior Carter Sauer (220) hope to place in the top four in the always rugged District 4 dominated region to earn a trip to the Giant Center.
With wrestling on my mind, I, the Great Carsoni, brought out my crystal ball to give you my predictions of who will bring home Northwest Regional gold this weekend.
Here are my NW region predictions:
106: Nic Allison, Mifflin County
113: Vincen Rinella, Meadville
120: Lane Aikey, Bellefonte
126: Jude Swisher, Bellefonte
132: Matt Sarbo, Altoona
138: Riley Bower, Williamsport
145: Paniro Johnson, Erie Prep
152: Ed Scott, DuBois
160: Ethan Richner, Bellefonte
170: Trey Kibe, Mifflin County
182: Ethan Rossman, Bellefonte
195: Garrett Eddy, Punxsutawney
220: Nate Schon, Selinsgrove
285: Oliver Billotte, Clearfield
The best matches in the finals should be at 145, 160 and 220.
Erie Prep’s Paniro Johnson, fifth in the state last year, will meet up with Shikellamy’s Cade Balestrini, seventh at Hershey a year ago. Johnson will take his talents to Iowa State while Balestrini, who owns a victory over Gage McClenahan this season, is off to Lock Haven.
At 160, PIAA sixth-place finisher Ethan Richner of Bellefonte will most likely face Selinsgrove’s Coy Bastian, a state qualifier last season.
In what could be the most anticipated final, returning PIAA champion Nate Schon of Selinsgrove tangles with Dorian Crosby of Erie Prep, fourth in the state in 2019. The Rambler senior is a Bucknell recruit. Schon is just a junior. That match will be worth the price of admission. Schon is No. 1 in the state, Crosby is second.
Mid-Penn Commonwealth All-Stars
Five Mifflin County wrestlers earned places on the Mid-Penn Commonwealth All-Star team. Allison, Kibe and Davis made the first team with Burk and Hassinger on the second team.
Central Dauphin led the way with seven selections, four on the first team. The Huskies were next with five, Cumberland Valley, Chambersburg and State College had four, Carlisle placed three, and Harrisburg had one.
Locals in College Roundup
The collegiate regular season came to a close and now the focus is on conference tournaments hoping to qualify for nationals.
Four former Mifflin County standouts are wrestling Division I and here’s a look at how the regular season went for each one.
Leading the pack is Hayden and Trent, the Hidlay Brothers, AKA the Gruesome Twosome. Both lived up to the nickname this season by being gruesome to their opponents.
Hayden continues his stellar career with a 26-1 regular season. His only loss coming at the hands of Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin at the Cliff Keen Invitational. The Wolfpack junior owns the number two ranking in the country and has an impressive 76-6 career record and two all-American finishes – second as a freshman and fourth as a sophomore.
The national championship is between him and top-ranked Deakin. They are head and shoulders above the rest of the field. I know one thing, it’s hard to beat Hayden twice, He’s always prepared and a very cerebral wrestler.
Look for him to bring the first DI national championship back to Mifflin County. How awesome would that be?
Trent is 22-3 in his redshirt freshman season. His only losses have been to Zahid Valencia (Arizona State), Louie DePrez (Binghamton) and Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech). Trent owns a victory over DePrez.
He heads into the postseason ranked second in the nation behind Bolen. It should be a great rematch when they face each other in the ACC finals on March 8 in Pittsburgh.
The suspension of Valencia opens up the 184-pound class. I believe it’s a three-horse race between Bolen, Trent and Aaron Brooks of Penn State. It all depends on who gets hot at the right time and is mentally stronger.
Also at 184 is Army-West Point’s, Noah Stewart. The Black Knight senior is 15-4 this season and ranked No. 17. He is a solid 72-37 for his career.
Stewart will get the third seed in the EIWA tournament behind DePrez and Chris Weiler of Lehigh. He will earn his second trip to nationals and with his riding ability and outstanding mat wrestling, Stewart could earn all-American honors for the first time.
Trey Hartsock is a two-year starter with a 35-44 career record at Lock Haven. The former two-time state place winner for the Huskies is at heavyweight for the Bald Eagles as they get ready for the MAC championships.
Four local wrestlers making their mark at the next level and representing Mifflin County in a most outstanding way.