There are those wrestlers who set themselves up nicely with wins last week and others who caught no breaks at all, despite a sectional title.
Sometimes it’s about the luck of the draw.
Despite who won last week or where they are seeded in the Class 3A Southeast Regional tournament, all that can be done now is embracing the challenges and overcoming them.
The two-day tournament starts Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Souderton High with the first round, followed by the quarterfinals. Action will pick up again Saturday morning at 9:30 with the first round of consolations, with semifinals slated for 11 a.m. and finals scheduled for 6 p.m.
The top five finishers will qualify for the PIAA tournament, and Great Valley senior, Ethan Seeley, knows that, while that’s the end goal, the focus has to be more narrow.
“Last year I didn’t achieve what I wanted to,” said Seeley, who went 1-2 as a junior. “Last year my goal was to make it to states, but this year I’m just focusing on each match being important and wrestling every match without looking ahead.”
Seeley was the No. 2 seed last winter, but a loss in his opening match sent his tournament into a tailspin.
In the North sectional finals last week, Seeley (195 pounds) knocked off Boyertown’s Jacob Miller, who was ranked No. 3 in the state on papowerwrestling.com. It not only was a huge boost to Seeley, but set him up with a much more favorable path to the regional finals, with the other four top-five wrestlers (according to pa-wrestling.com) on the opposite side.
“I know I can’t anything for granted,” Seeley said. “Everyone is good at regionals, but it definitely gave me confidence that I can hang with anyone in the region.”
Seeley’s offseason workout buddy, Chase Mielnik of Downingtown West, is in a similar boat. After finishing sixth in the region as a sophomore, Mielnik (182) upset Unionville’s returning state medalist, Tyler Mousaw, in the West sectional final last week and earned the No. 2 seed. In doing so he avoids the favorite, Spring-Ford’s Joey Milano, on the other side of the bracket.
Then there are those like West Chester Henderson’s Killian Delaney (120) or Oxford’s Brandon Sheffield, who caught tough draws.
Delaney (120), a returning state runner-up, is the top seed, but will likely have to deal with Council Rock North’s Luke Lucerne, who is 2-0 against Delaney in high school, in the quarterfinals.
Sheffield (138), who has 97 career victories, won the West and was rewarded with a first-round matchup against Methacton’s Kibwe McNair, a returning state qualifier.
“I know it’s going to be tough,” said Sheffield, Saturday. “I know all of those guys and I’m looking forward to good competition and having fun.”
Seeds are just the starting point, but whether you’re the hunter or the hunted, it’s the time of year where only the strongest survive.
Here’s a quick look at each weight class:
As will be a theme in many brackets, advancing will require getting through the Council Rocks. Council Rock North’s Kyle Hauserman is the top seed, while Council Rock South’s Kyle Waterman, a fifth-place state medalist last year, lurks on the bottom half. Downingtown East’s Keanu Manuel is No. 2 and has a good path to the semifinals where he likely sees Waterman, or Boyertown’s Julien Maldonado. Downingtown West’s Dom Findora has a winnable couple matches to likely reach Hauserman in the semis. Oxford’s Cannon Hershey is as exciting a young wrestler as there is in District 1, and he would get Hauserman in the quarterfinals. Don’t be surprised if Findora and Hershey meet for a rubber match with a trip to states on the line.
CR South’s Max Mendez has the No. 1 spot, while Henderson’s Sammy McMonagle is No. 2. Mendez has reached states the last two seasons and would likely be the foe of West Chester Rustin’s Jimmy King in the quarters. Coatesville’s Nate Lucier is on the top half, as well, and he has a pair of freshmen to get thru to reach the semis. McMonagle’s biggest hurdle on his half is Spring-Ford’s Shane Reynolds. McMonagle would be favored, but Reynolds is a motivated senior. If Lucier can’t upend Mendez, he should be able to manage a trip to Hershey, and if King can find enough offense, he can put himself in the mix, also.
Delaney placed higher at states than at regionals last winter. The latter was due to a one-point loss in the semis to Lucerne. The Warriors’ junior is hoping the third time is the charm against Lucerne if they meet in quarters. The semis wouldn’t be much easier with William Tennent’s TJ England. CR South’s Shane Hanson-Ashworth is the No. 2 seed and is expected to reach the finals. After Oxford’s Kevin Quin was forced to withdrawal with an injury, Kennett’s Trent Kochersperger moved up a slot and would see Hanson-Ashworth in quarters with a win. Quakertown’s Corey Cope and Owen J. Roberts’ David Forrest are on the bottom half, as well. The first four slots seem accounted for, but the race for fifth will be very tight, with Spring-Ford’s Quinn Tobin and Garnet’s Griffin Hollingsworth giving the weight depth.
After finishing sixth in the district at this weight last year, Neshaminy’s Colton Jordan is the top seed in an unproven bracket. West Chester East’s Corey Celenza is the only wrestler who’s been to states, and he is the No. 2 seed. He should make semis, to potentially face CR South’s Braden Ricchini, an energetic senior. Two local sophomores, Oxford’s Cooper Johnson and Rustin’s Josh Viarengo, have a puncher’s chance to get out. Johnson likely sees Jordan in quarters, while Viarengo would be challenged by Strath Haven’s tough freshman, Chase Barlow, there. Unionville’s Dom Chaclas could also throw his name into the hat, but there is a lot of very similar talent spread out in a weight without a powerhouse.
A rematch of the 126-pound regional final from last year between Downingtown East’s Lukas Richie and Harry S. Truman’s Gunnar Fuss is possible, if not likely, here. Richie is the top seed and is 9-0 since making the drop from 138. Fuss has won all 12 of his bouts at the weight, and is the No. 2 seed. Richie’s path to the finals seems open, but LJ Kahn could prove challenging as a battle-tested senior from CR South. Fuss’ side has more of the up-and-comers, with Lower Merion’s Christian Hodges, Neshaminy’s Zach Martin and Penncrest’s Christian Reed. An interesting local battle in the first round between Conestoga’s Morgan Lofland and Oxford’s Landon Meredith could set up the winner with better shot at sneaking into the top five.
The talk around this weight is how the top four ranked kids all competed in the North last week. This resulted in the aforementioned brutal first round matchup between Sheffield and McNair. Souderton’s Tyler Williams, a sixth-place state medalist last year, is the top seed and state qualifiers, Antonio Petrucelli of OJR and Jack McGill of Spring-Ford, are on the bottom half. Outside of those five, the depth does not appear to be there, but all it takes is an upset to throw the bracket into disarray. Whoever loses the Shefflied-McNair opener has the talent to move through the consis, and the two may meet again in the consi semis. With all the focus on the boys from the North, this is the perfect weight for someone to come out of nowhere.
CR North’s Cam Robinson, Avon Grove’s Nick Barnhart, Pennridge’s Evan Widing, CR South’s Eric Woloshyn and OJR’s Cole Meredith have reached Hershey in their careers, and William Tennent’s AJ Tamburrino is ranked No. 3 in the state, right behind Robinson, on papowerwrestling.com. Barnhart gets Widing in quarters with wins. Barnhart pinned Widing in the consi finals last season, and Widing missed chunks of time this season due to injury, but that bout should be a battle. Tamburrino-Meredith is the other potential quarter on the bottom half, meaning, if all four win, a contender will be eliminated in the blood round.
Dan Mancini of OJR is ranked No. 1 in the state, but is the second seed to Neshaminy’s Jackson Erb. Mancini owns a win over Erb this season, and this is not the deepest weight. CR North’s Dillon Sheehy lost to Mancini in the finals at this weight last year, and the two likely face off again in semis this year. CR South’s Cole Flanagan looks to return to Hershey, but he’d have Mancini in quarters. Outside of Erb up top, two Pioneer Athletic Conference seniors, Brett Breidor of Boyertown and Spring-Ford’s Dirk Nugent, will push for the final spot. Rustin’s Alex Pratzner won his section last week, but he will need to shrug off the first-time jitters.
In the latest rankings on pa-wrestling.com, five wrestlers received first-place votes, implying the weight is wide open. North Penn’s Pat O’Neill took seventh in the state last year, but he was defeated by CR South freshman, Matt Colajezzi, in the East finals last week. Top-seeded John Crawford of Strath Haven, OJR’s Connor Quinn, Methacton’s Roman Moser and Boyertown’s Evan Mortimer made trips to Hershey a year ago. Downingtown East’s Spencer Uggla was one of the surprise champs out of the West last week, and he’ll put his hot streak to the test against a balanced bracket. With a first-round win, Uggla would get either O’Neill or Mortimer in quarters.
Downingtown West’s Max Hale has won 20 straight matches, scoring bonus in all of them. His track record, a sixth-place state medal, and hot streak make him the favorite, and he may see Spring-Ford’s Chase Smith for the third time this year, in the semis. Hale won the first two. The lower half of the bracket has the depth. West Chester East’s Andrew DiBernardo has a tough freshman in Alan Alexander of Boyertown, in the first round, with CR South’s Nik Korbich likely to follow. DiBernardo has the ability to reach the finals on his side. Oxford’s Will Johnson will have a tough opener against OJR’s Ricky McCutchen, and that pair, along with Lower Merion’s returning state qualifier, James Lledo, will vie for the other spot in the semis on DiBernardo’s side.
With Mielnik’s upset of Mousaw last week, the Whippets’ junior is the No. 2 seed with a very winnable path to the finals. He should reach semis, where he likely faces his nemesis, CR South’s Giani Gilch. Mielnik lost both matches to Gilch at regionals last year, including the 5th-place bout, but scored some revenge with a pin over him earlier this season. Mousaw must now deal with top-seeded Joey Milano of Spring-Ford, that is if he can get past an old foe. Mousaw’s potential quarter matchup is with Upper Dublin’s 33-0 Mason Novak. Mousaw beat him two out of three times two seasons ago. Milano is the biggest fish at the weight at 38-2.
As touched upon earlier, Seeley is the top seed, while the bottom half of the bracket hosts arguably the top four other wrestlers. Seeley, who’s 32-0, is favored to reach the finals, with South sectional champ, Wissahickon’s Brian Fennell, a potential semi opponent. West’s Joe Shafer has a much steeper hill to climb. He’s the No. 2 seed, but Boyertown’s Jacob Miller, Pennridge’s Logan Green and Souderton’s Bruno Stolfi are there too. Stolfi would be Shafer’s quarters foe, and if that quartet wins in the first round, the losers in those quarters would have to square off in the blood round.
Sun Valley’s Hunter Catka looked like he was getting the rest of the rust off last week after missing most of the season with a leg injury. Even still, the junior by no means looks beatable, even with a group of solid wrestlers chasing him. Conestoga’s Paul Pelham is the No. 2 seed, though Hatboro Horsham’s Logan Flynn or Glen Mills’ Terrance Averett could block his path to semis. West’s Pat Cusack has been wrestling well and has a chance to continue his break out. To reach the semis he’ll have to overcome Central Bucks West’s Ryan Hieber, and then most likely Paola DiSanto, a returning state qualifier from Plymouth Whitemarsh. On Catka’s side is another returning qualifier, Tonee Ellis of Methacton, as well as Pennsbury’s Davis Lee and Pottsgrove’s Anthony Shivak.
Oxford’s Sam Blevins knocked off Garnet’s Coltin Deery a week ago, setting him up as the third seed. He has a nice path to the semis, where Ridley’s Tommy Bramwell, a sixth-place regional finisher last year, could be lurking. Deery is a pin away from tying a school record for falls in a season (27), but he is just 2-5 in decisions this winter. His toughest task likely shows in quarters with Bensalem’s top-seeded, 33-0, John Klewin. If Kennett’s Collin Watson is on, he has a shot at the semis on Deery’s side, and maybe even to sneak out.
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