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Carson: Powerade Duals showcase region’s best wrestlers

Editors’ note: Brian Carson’s wrestling column normally runs on Saturdays. The column is in today to preview the Powerade Duals.

With the glow of Christmas fading into the background and a new year waiting to be born, wrestling takes center stage today and Saturday as Mifflin County competes in the prestigious Powerade Tournament at Canon-McMillan High School.

Powerade is one of the big three, along with the Ironman and Beast of the East, in-season tournaments in the country.

How tough is Powerade? Let’s look at the numbers.

There are 17 state champions in the field and 24 who competed in the national prep tournament. Pennsylvania alone has 11 teams that finished top ten in the PIAA tournament – six in Class 3A and five in Class 2A, and 71 wrestlers from the Keystone State made it to Hershey last season.

Seven Powerade champions and two runner-ups return, as does Wyoming Seminary, the number one team in the country according to Intermat. Throw in Parkersburg South (VA), Malvern Prep (PA), Reynolds, and Camden Catholic (NJ) and you have the makings of a nice race for second.

The Huskies picked up three seeds – Nic Allison (7th at 106), Trey Kibe (3rd at 170) and Blaine Davis (4th at 285). Kibe finished third at Powerade last year, dropping a 1-0 decision to Tyler Stoltzfus of St. Joseph’s Academy in the semifinals. It was Kibe’s only loss of the season.

Connor O’Neil (Camden Catholic-NJ) and Stoltzfus have the top two seeds at 170. Kibe, even though he avenged his loss to Stoltzfus by pinning him at Ultimate Warrior, is seeded behind the Lock Haven commit because of the Powerade loss.

Kibe (No. 6) and Stoltzfus (No. 11) are ranked ahead of O’Neill (No. 12) nationally, but O’Neil was a Powerade champion last year. Besides the power trio above the weight class features Trent Schultheis of Freedom, number one in the state in Class 2A and Lenny Pinto of Stroudsburg, second behind Kibe in Class 3A,

An interesting situation at 106 with the top three ranked wrestlers in the state in Class 3A in the field with Erie Prep’s Jacob Van Dee (No. 1), Allison (No. 2) and Waynesburg Central’s Mac Church (No. 3).

This is a great tournament for Mifflin County to be a part of and I hope it continues. They get to wrestle some of the best competition in the country with no pressure on them. Martin likes to say, “Iron sharpens iron,” and Powerade fits the bill.

Wrestling competition like this only makes you better come postseason. Witness the performances last year from Kyler Everly, Trey Shoemaker and Brycen Hassinger to prove my point. Wrestling at King of the Mountain, Powerade and Ultimate Warrior gives the Huskies a big advantage over most teams in District 6.

Here are the top seeds at each weight for Powerade with national ranking in parenthesis:

106: Mac Church, Fr, Waynesburg Central (No. 9)

113: Gary Steen, Jr, Reynolds

120: Dylan Chappell, Jr, Seneca Valley

126: Nic Bouzakis, So, Wyoming Seminary (No. 3)

132: Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, Jr, Seneca Valley (No. 16)

138: Sam Hillegas, Sr, North Hills (No. 9)

145: Lachlan McNeil, Sr, Wyoming Seminary (No. 5)

152: Ed Scott, Sr, DuBois (No. 8 at 145)

160: Jack Blumer, Sr, Kiski Area (No. 15)

170: Connor O’Neil, Sr, DePaul Catholic-NJ (No. 12)

182: Gerrit Nijenhuis, Sr, Canon-McMillan (No. 2)

195: Luke Stout, Sr, Mount Lebanon (No. 3 at 182)

220: Braxton Amos, Sr, Parkersburg South-VA (No. 2)

285: Isaiah Vance, Jr, Hempfield (No. 16)

Note: Penn State commit Beau Bartlett (Wyoming Seminary) holds down the two seed at 138 even though he is top-ranked in the nation.

Also on tap this weekend are Juniata at the Newport Duals and Midd-West at the Battle of the Bridge in Woodbridge, Virginia.

The Indians return to Newport after a short absence and will be in a field featuring Camp Hill, Harrisburg, Williamson, York Suburban, Tulpehocken and Newport.

The Future Looks Bright for Penn State

Penn State dominated the Wilkes Open as expected but one wrestler stood out. Redshirt freshman Michael Beard (Malvern Prep) had a stellar day.

Beard posted a 4-0 record with all four wins coming by technical fall. He outscored his opponents by an amazing combined score of 67-5. Next up for Beard will be the Southern Scuffle.

Aaron Brooks and Ohio State transfer Greg Kerkvliet placed sixth and third respectfully at the Senior Nationals last weekend.

Brooks faced off with Zahid Valencia in the semifinals in what could be a preview of the NCAA finals in March. The two-time NCAA champion won by a 6-0 decision, but the score wasn’t indicative of the match.

Valencia tallied three points from Brooks stepping off the mat and one on the passivity clock. He scored on a nice double leg in the second period. It would have been 2-0 in a folkstyle match. There was some chippiness near the end of the match with both wrestlers head-slapping one another and trash-talking.

Brooks needs to shoot more. He was too laid back and passive in the match for my liking. Regardless, the next time they meet, it should be a barnburner.

Kerkvliet, who recently transferred to Penn State, impressed at the Senior Nationals with his third-place finish. Only a year removed from high school, Kerkvliet hung with the big boys before dropping a 3-2 decision to Anthony Nelson, a two-time NCAA champ from Minnesota, in the semifinals.

Kerkvliet battled back through consolations for third and a berth in the U.S. Trials at the Bryce Jordan Center. Two of his victories came over Nittany Lion redshirt Seth Nevills.

The top recruit of the 2019 class and four-time Minnesota state champion should bring plenty of smiles to the Penn State faithful when he finally dons the Blue and White singlet.

Thank you, Kyle Snyder. The gift that keeps on giving.

I want to wish everyone a happy and safe New Year. Thanks for reading.

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