Rustin’s Kaliner makes up for missing Regionals last year

It was one of those we’ll-laugh-at-it-later moments for West Chester Rustin’s Brett Kaliner.

During the week leading up to regionals last winter, Kaliner was being swung by his ankles by assistant coach Joe Cristaldi in a playful moment before practice, when Kaliner’s nose connected perfectly with the back of teammate Costas Hatzipavlides’ foot.

Kaliner wasn’t able to compete after breaking his nose, but today at 5:30 p.m. at Oxford High, the Rustin sophomore will finally get on the mats in the Class AAA Southeast Regional, with the first round and quarterfinals. The first round of consolations start at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, while the semifinals are tentatively scheduled for 11:30 a.m., and the finals are slated for 6 p.m.

The 46 locals are vying for a top-five finish to qualify for the PIAA tournament, beginning next Thursday in Hershey.

“We were just goofing around and (Cristaldi) didn’t mean anything by it,’ Kaliner recounted his freak accident. “Coach Joe has helped me out so much this year, he’s completely made up for it. But I joked that he needs to stay away from me this week.’

Kaliner hasn’t lost in eight matches since he dropped to 106 pounds. He was 20-7 at 113, and has five pins, two technical falls and a major at the weight he wrestled at as a freshman.

“(Regionals) is a different atmosphere, but I think I’m prepared for it,’ Kaliner said. “If I wrestle the way I’ve been wrestling, I can take on anybody.’

On paper, the Ches-Mont competed in the easiest of the three district tournaments that have filtered 12 wrestlers into the brackets, meaning the competition will be much greater. The past two seasons only the top-three from the region qualified for states. The PIAA tournament expanded from 16 to 20 wrestlers in each weight, so the Southeast and Southcentral region will rotate five and four qualifiers each year. This year the Southeast will send five.

Here is what to look for from each weight.


Pennridge sophomore Matt Parker is the No. 1 ranked kid in the state and therefore, the favorite, despite being the second seed. Kaliner has a challenging but winnable quarterfinal, that would set up a likely semifinal with Parker. Kaliner’s path to Hershey is a lot smoother if he gets to semis. In the upper half, Boyertown’s Jakob Campbell is a returning state qualifier and his biggest hurdle to the finals is Council Rock North’s Aidan Burke, who beat Campbell in the opening tournament of the season. Downingtown West’s Doug Zapf should hang tough but will have to deal with much bigger wrestlers. There are no seniors in the bracket.


Pennridge’s Kordell Rush is a returning fourth-place state medalist, but there are those who feel Upper Perkiomen’s Dustin Steffenino is the choice of the bracket. Either way, they’re expected to meet in the finals. From there, a half dozen or so viable candidates fight for the final three spots. Up top, Steffenino will wait for either Jake Taylor of Unionville or Quakertown’s Harrison Campbell. The winner of that prelim has a better-looking path should he lose to Steffenino. Downingtown East’s James Strommer is No. 3 and could get Boyertown’s David Campbell in quarters. It won’t be easy, but the winner is much better off. Expect a lot of low-scoring bouts outside of the top two seeds.


West Chester East’s Noah Hankin is in his second straight regional tournament, and he will have his work cut out to reach states for the first time. Chances are he’ll meet Garnet Valley’s Matt Marino in quarters. Hankin is also on the same side as Owen J. Roberts’ three-time state medalist, Derek Gulotta, and Harry S. Truman’s Dylan Nuttall, who beat Gulotta in December and is 1-1 against Hankin this year. Getting to semis will help in that quartet, but won’t guarantee a trip to states, as a drop into consolations could bring a matchup with Pennsbury’s Connor Joyce. Up top, Spring-Ford’s Ryan Hayes has been on fire and is the favorite. Avon Grove’s Kevin Edwards has a good prelim match to get to Pennridge’s tough freshman, Micah Visuwan.


A finals matchup between Downingtown East’s Wade Cummings and Council Rock South’s Zach Trampe would be one of the most highly-anticipated bouts. The pair has 82 combined wins this season and Cummings won their head-to-head, 3-2, last year at regionals. Trampe has knocked off four PA state medalists this season and has the size advantage, but Cummings comes in on a 33-bout winning streak. Conestoga’s Eric Hutchinson hopes to see Cummings in quarters, but Council Rock North’s Jake Potter can put up points. Also on the bottom with Cummings is Boyertown’s Lucas Miller, who is rangy and stingy on defense. Henderson’s Kyle Medrow and Rustin’s Dan Labus are both capable of reach Hershey at this weight.


The District 1 Central trio of Joey Wilson of Henderson, Jude McDowell of Downingtown East and Colin Devlin of Upper Dublin are the only returning regional qualifiers at this weight. With all that newness, there are bound to be some unexpected results. Upper Darby’s Colin Cronin is ranked No. 1 in the district, and he is on Wilson’s side and owns a 9-4 win over the Henderson senior. Pennridge’s Josh Stillings is a battle-tested freshman and a monster on top. For Wilson to make his first trip to Hershey in his third regional trip, he’ll have to stick to his strategy of keeping it close and winning low-scoring matches.


Owen J. Roberts’ Demetri D’Orsaneo is a returning eighth-place state medalist and he and Pottstown’s Bryant Wise are the only ones with state experience in the bracket. D’Orsaneo won’t wow you, but he’s solid and just wins. The opposite side is much tighter. Along with Wise is Interboro’s Eric Thomas, Downingtown East’s Austin Lillis and Upper Perk’s Eric Miller. Those three have had their best seasons and are looking to take the next step. It could be Thomas versus Wise and Lillis against Miller in the quarters. Lillis has won 22 bouts in a row, 15 by fall, but to get to Hershey he’ll likely have to win a couple tight ones.


Central Bucks West’s Riley Barth is one of four undefeated wrestlers in the tournament. He finished fourth in the region last year, falling to the top seed in this bracket, Dominick Petrucelli of OJR. On opposite sides, the two seniors would be an option for a finals matchup, though a tough group of underclassmen hopes otherwise. Coatesville’s Chase Stephens is a threat to crash the party, but he will have a tough quarter against either Nick Beauchamp of Spring-Ford or Council Rock South’s Lucas Martoccio. Stephens hasn’t lost since the opening weekend of the season. This is a win-on-your-feet type of weight, so let the best takedowns win.


This weight seems to have the highest probability of a local qualifier, as Downingtown East’s James Meyer, Conestoga’s Dan Iredale and Coatesville’s Zach Dellicompagni are the second through fourth seeds. Iredale is 22-0 this season and has been a menace on his feet. He and Meyer could see each other in the semis, and both are better from neutral than anywhere else. Up top, Council Rock South’s Dylan Schwartz is the favorite. Dellicompagni could have a tough go against Spring-Ford’s Jon Cooper in the quarters with Schwartz likely on deck. If Rustin’s Tyler Labus lets it rip, he could very well find himself wrestling for a spot in Hershey.


Spring-Ford’s Frankie Krauss hasn’t lost a match to a District 1 foe this year is the favorite from the bottom side of the bracket. That half is a bit tougher, with Sun Valley’s Alex Elliott and Pennsbury’s Luke Kowal set for a quarterfinal bout. Unionville’s Matt Stillman is also in this half, as the lone local representative. Up top, Council Rock North’s Josh Shalinsky is the pick to get to the finals.


Pennridge’s Kyle Gentile is the top-ranked kid in the state and the odds-on favorite to win. He’ll have a tougher-than-expected quarter, potentially, with Sun Valley’s Steve Okoorian coming in as the Central’s third-seed. Rustin’s Shane Boyer has a winnable prelim but a tougher quarter against Spring-Ford’s Steve Rice. In the bottom half, Radnor’s Tom Meyers is 35-0. Council Rock South’s Joe Doyle is the wildcard of the lower half. Downingtown East’s Alec Horne is the third seed and it would serve him better to reach the semis and take it from there.


On paper, Boyertown’s Gregg Harvey and Central Bucks East’s Evan Wilson are the class of the weight. On Harvey’s side, Avon Grove’s Peyton MacNeil and Downingtown East’s Jason Gibson have tough but winnable prelims. Rustin’s Costas Hatzipavlides is on Wilson’s side and he’s looking at a challenge in the quarters with Penncrest’s Joe Pyfer. Win or lose, Hatzipavlides has the ability to get through, but would likely have to duel with other Central Leaguers, Ridley’s Lawrence Alkins and/or Radnor’s Zak Taylor.


Something’s gotta give with Coatesville’s Wesley McGuire and Council Rock South’s Ben Kenis, who’ve been straight up dominant in a relatively shallow weight. Kenis, who bumped up from 182 for the postseason, has four first-period falls in five postseason bouts, while McGuire has pinned in the first period in all six of his matches. McGuire defeated Kenis for third-place at regionals last year. To get to the finals, McGuire will likely have to tango with either Xavier Ferrizzi of OJR or Pennridge’s Andrew Reinhold in semis. Kenis’ biggest threat on his side is Spring-Ford’s Brenden Zimmie.


Boyertown’s two-time state runner-up, Jordan Wood, ended up the No. 2 seed after missing the majority of the regular season recovering from a shoulder injury. Downingtown East’s Billy McGinley benefits as the top-seed, opposite of Wood and Pennridge’s Ezra Outlaw, but the coast is not totally clear. Upper Darby’s Joshua Yeboah-Gyasi, who Avon Grove’s Ryan Hoffman hopes to see in quarters, owns a 6-5 decision over McGinley this season and the two could meet in semis. McGinley has a great opportunity to head to Hershey.


Heavyweight always seems to be the hardest to project, as there is typically an upset or two each year. Henderson’s James McDonald is coming off his first loss of the season in the district final, and finds himself on the same side with Pennridge’s Joe Kracz and Boyertown’s Tommy Killoran. To get Kracz in quarters, McDonald has to beat Strath Haven’s Justin Fremont first. On the lower half, Rustin’s Christos Moscharis has a tough task navigating through Neshaminy’s Bruce Graeber, Norristown’s Shaheed Hill and Spring-Ford’s Zach Dorsey.

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