Carson: Different look without NCAA tourney

This was supposed to be a column about whether the Penn State wrestling team could win its ninth national title under Cael Sanderson.

It was about the Hidlay Brothers and their attempt to bring back to the county double national champions. It was about Noah Stewart and his chances of getting on the podium this weekend and earning all-American status.

Instead, a virus, shaped like a crown, stole all the headlines and canceled most sports, including the NCAA Division I wrestling championships. For the first time since 1945, the last year of World War II, we will not have any champions in collegiate wrestling.

It’s a sad time for sports and worst of all for the young men who worked so hard to become the upper echelon in the most rugged sport on earth.

It’s especially hard for the seniors who won’t get another chance at nationals. How tragic that a microscopic bug could do so much damage even to people who don’t have it?

If the powers-that-be at the NCAA have any sense of fairness in their bones, they will grant an extra year to every athlete who qualified for the tournament, if they choose to take it. Even the military, who doesn’t deal in redshirting, should give Stewart and the others an extra year of eligibility.

Remember, there is no professional league for these guys, except maybe MMA. Only the rarest of the rare are good enough to wrestle in the Olympics. College is the last stop for most. Don’t let a virus take away the goals and aspirations of these athletes. Give them another chance to wrestle for a championship in the sport they’ve devoted their lives to.

Are you listening, NCAA? Give them all an extra year.

Pennsylvania led the way once again with 48 NCAA qualifiers. The top five states are below.

1. Pennsylvania – 48

2. Ohio – 31

3. Illinois – 28

4. New Jersey – 23

5. California – 19

Since we aren’t having nationals this year, I thought it would be good to highlight our Keystone State boys, so I listed all 48 qualifiers in this column.

Spencer Lee, Iowa (125), Gage Curry, American (125), Luke Werner, Lock Haven (125), Micky Phillipi, Pittsburgh (133), Austin DeSanto, Iowa (133), Zack Trampe, Binghamton (133),

DJ Fehlman, Lock Haven (133), Cole Matthews, Pittsburgh (141), Luke Pletcher, Ohio State (141), Max Murin, Iowa (141), Doug Zapf, Penn (141), Kyle Shoop, Lock Haven (141),

Sammy Sasso, Ohio State (149), Jarod Verkleeren, Penn State (149), Jimmy Hoffman, Lehigh (149), Brock Zacherl, Clarion (149), Hayden Hidlay, NC State (157), AC Headlee, North

Carolina (157), Justin McCoy, Virginia (157), Kaleb Young, Iowa (157), Alex Klucker, Lock Haven (157), Jake Wentzel, Pittsburgh (165), Cam Coy, Virginia (165), Vincenzo Joseph,

Penn State (165), Ethan Smith, Ohio State (165), Zach Hartman, Bucknell (165), Josh Shields, Arizona State (165), Gregg Harvey, Pittsburgh (174), Michael Kemerer, Iowa (174),

Michael Labriola, Nebraska (174), Jared Siegrist, Lock Haven (174), Jacob Oliver, Edinboro (174), Trent Hidlay, NC State (184), Nino Bonaccorsi, Pittsburgh (184), Chris Weiler,

Lehigh (184), Noah Stewart, Army (184), Travis Stefanik, Princeton (184), Dakota Geer, Oklahoma State (197), Jake Woodley, Oklahoma (197), Drew Phipps, Bucknell (197), Jake

Jakobsen, Lehigh (197), Cole Urbas, Penn (197), Greg Bulsak, Clarion (197), Ethan Laird, Rider (197), Andrew Gunning, North Carolina (285), Jordan Wood, Lehigh (285), Brendan

Furman, Cornell (285), and Tyler Bagoly, Clarion (285).

PIAA Leftovers

Here are some random notes and observations from last week’s PIAA Championships.

Midd-West’s Avery Bassett pulled off the toughest challenge one can do at the PIAA tournament – lose your first-round match and battle back for third.

Bassett lost his opener to Erik Gibson of Forest Hills in the first round and then won six straight for third place. The Mustang junior captured the highest placing in school history and will be one of the favorites to bring home gold in 2021.

Mount Union’s Jake Ryan joined Troy Sunderland as the only three-time medalist in school history. Ryan placed fourth, second and fifth with Sunderland finishing second, first and first from 1986-to-1988.

Sunderland, former NCAA runner-up and head coach at Penn State, went 89-3 in high school. Ryan ended his standout career with the Trojan record for wins (151) and pins (107). The falls are ther most by a District 6 Class 2A wrestler.

Mifflin County’s Nic Allison became ninth Husky wrestler to earn a medal at states. The nine combined for 18 PIAA medals with Hayden and Trent Hidlay earning three each, Trey Kibe, Christian Fisher, Trey Hartsock, Stewart and Tyson Searer collecting two, and Allison and Noah Myers having one each.

Kibe could become only the seventh wrestler in county history to be a three-time state placer joining Kenny Whitsel (1977-79), Matt Bonson (2005-07) and Matt Snyder (2006-08) of Lewistown; Nic Bedelyon (2005-07) of Indian Valley, and Hayden (2014-16) and Trent (2016-18) Hidlay of Mifflin County.

Kibe enters next season fourth all-time in school wins (117) and third in Husky history in pins (66). Trent is first in victories with 154. Hayden owns the fall mark with 88.

We all know how tough it is to win a PIAA championship, but how difficult is it to repeat? Of the 16 returning champions in Class 3A and 2A, only half won it again.

Falling short were Carter Dibert (Franklin Regional), Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (Seneca Valley), Kibe, Kyle Swartz (Northern York) and Nate Schon (Selinsgrove) in 3A, and Jackson Arrington (Forest Hills), Thayne Lawrence (Frazier) and Dayton Pitzer (Mount Pleasant) in 2A. Swartz and Pitzer were injured and didn’t compete in the tournament.

Defending their titles were Ed Scott (DuBois) and Gerrit Nijenhuis (Canon-McMillan) in 3A. Sheldon Seymour (Troy), Ryan Crookham (Notre Dame-Green Pond), Brock McMillen (Glendale), Andrew Cerniglia (Notre Dame-Green Pond), Gaige Garcia (Southern Columbia) and Colby Whitehill (Brookville) in 2A.


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