The Journey begins: PIAA state wrestling tournament stars
HERSHEY - The PIAA Wrestling Championships begin today at 9 a.m. at the Hershey Giant Center.
Eight NTL wrestlers will be taking part with 37 from District IV in all.
At 113 Troy's Ethan Calkins (33-5) will face Claysburg-Kimmel's Josh Brown (27-7) while at 120 Wyalusing freshman Collin Edsell (33-5) takes on Smethport's Trent Neely (26-3).
Returning state medalist Logan Everett of Williamson (36-2) faces off with Boiling Springs' Kyle Shoop (36-8) in the preliminaries while teammate Trevor McWhorter (35-5) takes on Annville-Cleona's Jeffery Inman (40-4).
At 145 third Warrior Billy Barnes (35-2) faces Blairsville's Noah Tarr (37-3).
The next NTL wrestler is North Penn's Ben Minnich (33-5) taking on Bedford's Caleb Grimes (26-12) at 170 pounds while at 182 Canton's Garrett Wesneski (32-2) faces Lancaster Catholic's Stephen Loiseau (40-2).
The final NTL competitor will be Wyalusing's Dylan Otis (34-3) facing Westmont-Hilltop's Don Shovestull (30-7) at 220 pounds.
Minnich will be looking to make history as the first North Penn state medalist. No wrestler from North Penn or fellow co-op school Mansfield have ever earned a state medal or won a state match.
Liberty, the third school in that triumvert, has had state medalists, including current North Penn wrestling coach Craig Pequignot.
For Troy and Wyalusing they will be looking for their first medal since 2008 while Canton is hoping for its first since 2010.
As for District IV, they will be looking to crown multiple champions.
Warrior Runs' Zack LeBarron (35-1) will face Brookville's Taylor Ortiz (32-7), Line Mountain's Cameron Newman (34-7) faces Palisades Jacob Wasser (36-6) and Lewisburg's Brian Friery (32-9) takes on Reynolds' Seth Hogue (30-13).
After Calkins Warrior Run's Ethan Hunt is the only other District IV wrestler. Hunt (35-5) faces Ligonier Valley's Justin Patrick (33-4) in the opening round.
There are two others from District IV besides Edsell. Benton's Matt Welliver (35-8) takes on Boiling Springs' Grant Bond (37-8) and Hughesville's Zach Fry (31-13) faces Northwestern's Matt Wheeler (32-4).
Southern Columbia's Kent Lane is the other D4 kid other than Everett. Lane (37-0) faces Pen Argyl's Andrew Sutton (33-10) in the preliminaries.
Mifflinburg's Cole Walter (34-4) is the other D4 wrestler. Walter faces Pius X's Michael Comunale (37-6) in the opening round.
District IV only has two wrestlers at this weight but they may be the top two.
Benton's Zain Retherford (43-0) is the heavy favorite to win the state title. He will start his run against Camp Hill's Alex Gallagher (29-14).
Line Mountain's Seth Lansberry (35-4) faces off against Saegertown's Matt Humes (34-10).
Regional champion Colt Cotten (40-5) takes on West Greene's Matt Johnston (41-6) while third D4 wrestler Zach Heeter of Midd-West (38-5) faces Conemaugh Towns' Tanner Cahill (35-3).
Regional champion Ryan Preisch (29-4) takes on Bethlehem Catholic's Mark Maloney (28-18), Hughesville's Kyle Barnes (35-4) faces Coudersport's Kyle Bova (36-1) and Southern Columbia's Blake Marks (34-5) faces Fort LeBoeuf's Taylor Harrington (36-12).
Mifflinburg's Tyl Walter (32-3) takes on Ber.-Brothers Valley's Bryce Fochtman (35-4), Benton's Jeric Kasunic (32-8) faces Penns Valley's Corey Hazel (36-3) and Montgomery's Isaiah Bobotas (32-3) has South Fayette's Jared Walker (31-7) in the opening round.
Regional runner-up South Williamsport's Justin Knee (32-8) takes on Chestnut Ridge's Tyler Dilbert (38-5) in the opening round while the third D4 wrestler Alex Liemberman of Midd-West (34-6) faces off against South Fayette's Mike Fetchet (39-3).
Regional champion and title contender Muncy's Troy Hembury (39-1) faces Boiling Springs' Kyle Taylor (32-15) in the opening round while third D4 wrestler Benton's Logan Womelsdorf (26-15) faces Bethlehem Catholic's Jose Ortiz (42-4) in the preliminaries.
Heavy favorite Milton's Ryan Solomon (36-0) takes on Saucon Valley's Justin Blobe (34-11) in the opening round while Muncy's Skylar Ebner (34-9) faces Seneca's Trevor Beiter (29-2) in the opening round.
Regional champion Lewisburg's Brandon Smith (33-1) takes on Ber.-Brother's Valley's Mitchell Walker (30-11) while third District IV wrestler Central Columbia's Eric McCracken (36-6) faces West Greene's Cody Jacobs (34-6).
Returning state champion Mifflinburg's Nazar Mironenko (34-3) has Wyomissing's Ben Wertz (25-10) in the opening round. Central Columbia's Alex Shiber (39-3) faces Penn Argyl's Brady Mutton (39-8) while Southern Columbia's Jake Becker (36-4) takes on Biglerville's Trevor Stover (36-3).