Double schedule complete, Bulldogs head to districts | Sports
CLARION — Ending the dual season with a 10-10 record, the Redbank Valley Bulldogs wrestling team heads into the individual playoffs which begin Saturday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium.
The District 9 Class 2A tournament has yet to take place at the renovated Tippin, and the district has not held its playoffs on campus since 2015.
It will be a one-day event this time around as 120 wrestlers from the 14 D9 schools will compete to place in the top four to qualify for the North West Regional tournament in Sharon on March 4-5.
District 9 officials announced that Clarion University requires fans to wear masks at all times during any event at Tippin throughout the playoffs, including basketball games as well.
Preliminary round action and the quarter-finals begin at 9:30 a.m. The semi-finals and consolation rounds follow before battles for third and fourth place conclude the first session. At 4 p.m., the finals and consolation finals will be held simultaneously in all 13 weight classes on two mats.
It’s back to the traditional playoff format where the top four qualify for regionals and there it’s a top four earning a ticket to the PIAA Championships at Hershey’s Giant Center March 10-12.
For the Bulldogs, eight wrestlers qualified for regionals a year ago, with three returning in senior Ridge Cook, junior Cole Bish and second Daniel Evans. All three were third at 120, 113 and 106 pounds.
This year, Cook (21-5) is the No. 2 seed at 126, the highest seed for the Bulldogs. Bish (22-6) is the No. 3 seed at 120 while Evans (22-9) is the No. 4 seed at 113. From there, the Bulldogs have their work cut out for them. that they surpass their seeded ones to enter a top-four position. Wyatt Bussard, Cole McHenry, Carsen Rupp and Gabe Carroll are all No. 7 seeds at 138, 172, 215 and heavyweight respectively.
The rest of the Bulldogs are unranked. The Bulldogs, tournament favorites Brookville and Port Allegany are the only teams starting the weekend with full 13-man rosters.
Five D9 champions return from last year – Bryce Rafferty and Owen Reinsel of Brookville, Jacob Carfley of Curwensville, Weston Pisarchick of Brockway and Kaden Dennis of Johnsonburg.
Reinsel, a two-time fourth-place state medalist in the past two years, is aiming for his fourth D9 title and if successful, it will only be the second time in D9 history that a wrestler has won four individual titles and is in the roster of four D9 Dual champion teams. Only 11 Class 2A D9 wrestlers have won four individual D9 titles.
Reinsel is seeded at 132 while Rafferty is back at 215 as the No. 1 seed. Pisarchick and Carfley are seeded 1-2 at 113 while Dennis is seeded No. 2 at 172.
The Raiders, seeking their third consecutive tag team title and 10th in the past 12 years, have six No. 1 seeds, the others being Cole Householder at 120, Brayden Kunselman at 138, Easton Belfiore at 172 and Jackson Zimmerman at 189.
Other seeds are Cranberry’s Eli Brosius at 106, Brockway’s Mark Palmer at 126, Kane’s Reece Bechakas at 145, Port Allegany’s Caleb Fergeson at 152, Johnsonburg’s Aiden Zimmerman at 160 and Brockway’s Gavin Thompson at heavyweight.
How good is District 9 this year? Some 17 wrestlers were ranked in the top 25 of the papowerwrestling.com state rankings last week. Reinsel is highest ranked at #2 while Rafferty is #3. Other high rankings belong to Pisarchick (#8) at 113, Kunselman (#12) at 138, Jackson Zimmerman (#9) at 189 and Brockway’s Thompson (No. 12) at heavyweight.
LAST THURSDAY, the Bulldogs lost 49-21 at Brockway to close the double season. The Bulldogs won just one fight on the mat as Carsen Rupp decided Garrett Faust, 6-2, at 215. The Bulldogs had forfeit wins at 106, 138 and 160.
Here is an overview of the composition of the Bulldogs district:
106: Aiden McAnulty, Fr., 9-13
Unranked, it will open with freshman Oswayo Valley No. 7 seed Andrew Coriaty. Coriaty pinned McAnulty in the second period of the season.
113: Daniel Evans (4), SO, 22-9
Seeded fourth, Evans opens with No. 5 seed Kai Stauffer of Port Allegany. He beat Stauffer twice this year by pin. A victory puts Evans in the semifinals against top seed Weston Pisarchick of Brockway. Pisarchick pinned him last week in their only meeting.
120: Cole Bish (3), Jr., 22-6
Bish will face No. 6 seed Christian Rothermel of Port Allegany in the quarter-finals. The two have not faced each other this year. The winner gets Brockway’s No. 2 seed, Colton Ross, in the semifinals. Ross beat Bish 5-3 last week. Brookville’s Cole Householder is the top see on the other side of the bracket.
126: Ridge Cook (2), Sr, 21-5
He will start with Coudersport’s No. 7 seed Brett Moss in the quarterfinals, with the winner likely getting Port Allegany’s No. 3 seed Chase Weimer in the semis. Cook hasn’t faced Moss this year and shut out Weimer 3-0 in late January. The top seed is Brockway’s Mark Palmer on the other side of the bracket. Palmer specialized in Cook 11-0 last week.
132: Jacob Kundick, Sr., 4-12
He will open with No. 7 seed Eli Perez of Johnsonburg in the first round. The two did not meet during the season. The winner gets the No. 2 seed Nik Fegert of Curwensville. Brookville’s Reinsel is the big favorite on the other side of the bracket as the top seed.
138: Wyatt Bussard (7), son, 2-9
Bussard starts with Kane’s No. 2 seed Harley Morris in the quarterfinals. Morris is ranked No. 19 in the state. Brookville’s Kunselman is the top seed on the other side of the board.
145: Drew Downs, Sr., 1-12
Downs starts with No. 2 seed Rayce Milliard of Johnsonburg in the first round. The seed on the other side of the bracket is Kane’s Reece Bechakas.
152: Drew Byers, Sr., 1-6
He starts with No. 4 seed Tyler Merritt of Ridgway in the first round. Merritt is ranked No. 24 in the state but No. 5 in the Northwest region with top-seeded Caleb Furgeson of Port Allegany ranked No. 21 in the state and No. 3 in the region.
160: Duncan Blake, So., 3-15
Blake has a first-round matchup with No. 6 seed Dayton Sherwood of Port Allegany. Kane’s No. 2 seed Luke Ely is on the same side of the bracket with Johnsonburg’s seed Aiden Zimmerman on the other side. papowerwrestling.com has Ely No. 18 and Zimmerman No. 23 in the state.
172: Cole McHenry (7), Sr, 10-5
He will face unseeded Abram Austin of Oswayo Valley in the first round, with the winner securing second seed Kaden Dennis of Johnsonburg in the quarter-finals. Easton Belfiore of top-seeded Brookville is on the other side of the board.
189: Johnathan Slack, Sr., 6-17
Slack secures No. 7 seed Dylan Hajzas of Coudersport in the first round with the winner meeting No. 2 seed Seth Stewart of Brockway in the quarter-finals. Brookville’s Jackson Zimmerman is the top seed on the other side of the board.
215: Carsen Rupp (7), Jr., 21-4
Rupp will likely meet second seed Miska Young of Port Allegany in the quarter-finals. Young has a first-round match while Rupp gets a bye. Young beat Rupp 5-2 in their Jan. 25 meeting. Winner Rupp-Young will likely meet No. 3 seed Brayden McFetridge of Cranberry in the semifinals. Bryce Rafferty of top-seeded Brookville is on the other side of the board.
HWT: Gabe Carroll (7), Jr., 16-9
Carroll opens with Kane’s unranked Shawn Nystrom in the first round. The winner gets No. 2 seed Danah Campbell of Sheffield in the quarter-finals. Campbell pinned Carroll on Jan. 8, then needed overtime to beat Carroll, 3-1, on Jan. 29. The top seed is Brockway’s Gavin Thompson on the other side of the bracket. The possible Carroll-Campbell winner would likely get Coudersport’s No. 3 seed Cooper Rossman in the semifinals. Rossman pinned Carroll during the season.