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PIAA Wrestling: Hard openers await Pioneer Athletic Conference teams

There will be a significant local presence in Hershey this weekend.

Three Pioneer Athletic Conference teams will take the floor at the Giant Center for the 2019 PIAA Duals Tournament, which starts Thursday and runs into Saturday.

The threesome — Spring-Ford, Owen J. Roberts, Boyertown — will comprise the largest state-duals contingent from the area in recent years.

Spring-Ford is making a second straight appearance in the tourney’s Hershey phase, that after finishing as runner-up in the District 1 Class AAA competition last weekend. Boyertown and Owen J. Roberts qualified for the trip to Chocolatetown for the first time since 2017, both by winning preliminary-round matches Monday.

“That was our goal all year, to get back to Hershey,” SF head coach Tim Seislove said following a title-round match with defending district champion Council Rock South.

Boyertown has been a visitor to Hershey four of the five previous years. The Bears (15-8) qualified for states last year, but they fell short of the next level in a pigtail-round loss … a fate they avoided this week by dispatching Archbishop Ryan Monday, 55-16.

“One of our goals was to be among the Top Four in the district,” Boyertown head coach Dave Jones said. “Anything after that is icing on the cake. We want to step on the floor at Hershey.”

Like Boyertown, Owen J. Roberts is back at Hershey for state duals after a year’s absence. The Wildcats (19-3) faced a somewhat-identical scenario as Boyertown, though their third-place finish in districts got them a home pigtail match against Cumberland Valley — one they took by a 40-28 score.

“We know what it’s like, and how special it is to get back to Hershey,” OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo said.

Boyertown goes first Thursday, facing defending champion Bethlehem Catholic at 6 p.m. Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford (18-4) will follow at 8 p.m. with respective pairings against District 7 winner Kiski Area and District 10 champ Erie Cathedral Prep.

Boyertown will face off in first Hershey match against Bethlehem Catholic, District 11 champion.

BeCaHi (12-1), the District 11 champion, suffered its lone loss to date against Bethlehem Liberty, a 32-30 verdict on Jan. 4. The Golden Hawks got back at Liberty, though, in the 11-AAA Duals title bout, winning 34-22.

A regular participant in the PIAA Duals, Bethlehem Catholic is the defending champion after a 38-22 victory over Kiski last year. It’s 2-1 in finals the last three times, winning in 2016 (37-12 over Boyertown) and being edged by Nazareth in 2017 (30-29).

Kiski Area (15-0) handled Seneca Valley in the 7-AAA title bout, 49-17. The District 7 champion won three tournaments earlier this season, and the Cavaliers were fourth in Powerade competition at Canon-McMillan over the holiday break.

Kiski has also been a frequent participant in the PIAA Duals. Prior to losing the 2018 title to Bethlehem Catholic, the Cavaliers finished third in 2017 with a 41-21 victory over Erie Cathedral Prep. In 2016, they got as far as the consolation semifinals before being eliminated by Belle Vernon 36-26, coming away with a 3-2 record.

Erie Cathedral Prep (18-3) comes in as District 10-AAA duals champion, rolling Warren in the championship match 55-15.

Another frequent qualifier for state duals, the Ramblers placed third last year with a 42-22 win over Canon McMillan. It was fourth in 2017, topped by Kiski Area 41-21.

* * *

The state duals could see two PAC wrestlers reach the 100-win plateau for their scholastic careers.

Boyertown senior Jacob Miller goes to Hershey will 99 victories. Miller is in position to become the program’s 30th grappler to achieve triple-digit win fame.

Owen J. Roberts’ Cole Meredith comes into the state duals with 98 career wins. The Wildcat middleweight will join 16 program alumni when he gets the 100th victory.

* * *

Class AAA action will continue Friday with first-round consolations at 10 a.m., quarterfinals at 2 p.m., second-round consis at 6 p.m. and semifinals at 8 p.m. Saturday, third-round consis start at 9 a.m., followed by consolation semifinals at 11 a.m. The championship and third-round matches will be at 1 p.m.

In Class AA, matches of regional interest Thursday will see Faith Christian, the District 1/12 champion, take on West-Mont Hilltop (District 6 champ) at 4 p.m.; and District 3 titlist Hamburg go against Greenville (District 10 third) at 2 p.m.

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