Roberts, much older & wiser, meets Hafizov again in Final X
Photo: Dalton Roberts (left) beat Ildar Hafizov at the 2023 U.S. Open...
By Rob Sherrill
If you went to the Pennsylvania state tournament hoping for a down-to-the-wire team race, it was time to find something else to do before the second day ended. Nothing to see here.
Instead, the Giant Center in Hershey hosted the conclusion of three of the dominant careers in Pennsylvania wrestling history.
In Class AAA, Chance Marsteller (170) of Fawn Grove Kennard-Dale and Thomas Haines (285) of Quarryville Solanco became the state’s 11th and 12th four-time champions. At 166-0, including 41-0 this season, Marsteller became the first Pennsylvania wrestler to complete his career without a loss since Cary Kolat did it for Jefferson-Morgan High School from 1989-92.
And in the Class AA finals earlier in the day, Jason Nolf (44-0) of Kittanning scored his third pin in four state tournament matches at 145 to win his third title and that meet’s Outstanding Wrestler award.
Marsteller, who followed a first-period pin and two technical falls with a 14-2 major decision in the final, was voted the AAA Outstanding Wrestler for the third time. Although he’s won everywhere and under every circumstance, Marsteller couldn’t help but be emotional after the final ended.
“I teared up a little bit,” Marsteller told the Associated Press. “Every other state title was just another match, just another day. This was one more memorable because it’s a different feat and it’s my last high school match ever. It was really something else to take in this time.”
Haines (42-0) allowed just four points in four matches, which included a semifinal pin of the weight’s other ranked wrestler, Shane Kuhn of Vandergrift Kiski Area.
Defending champions met in the 145-pound final, with Solomon Chishko of Canonsburg Canon-McMillan scoring a 7-2 victory over Joe Galasso of Philadelphia Father Judge. Galasso won at 138 last year.
Murrysville Franklin Regional and Bethlehem Catholic, the state’s consensus top two teams, quickly took the drama out of both team races, winning AAA and AA by 59 and 61 points, respectively. Two-time champion Devin Brown (106) and freshman sensation Spencer Lee (113) won titles for Franklin Regional. Jake Riegel (106), Luke Karam (113) and Zeke Moisey (126) won for Bethlehem Catholic, which set an all-time scoring record in either classification with 138.5 points.
Clovis caps another dominating run in California
In what was another strong tournament for the Central Section as a whole – their 36 place-winners once again led the section scoreboard and their four champions tied the Sac-Joaquin Section – Clovis scored 197.5 points to claim a record fourth-straight team state title in California, and the 12th in program history. District-rival Fresno Clovis West edged Poway, 118.5-110, for second place.
Senior heavyweight Nick Nevills was one of two champions for the Cougars, winning his third state title. Nevills, who pinned all six state tournament opponents as a junior, nearly matched that feat as a senior, scoring pins in five of his six matches. He settled for a technical fall in the semifinals.
Freshman Justin Mejia (106) also won for Clovis, which placed eight.
Senior Nikko Villarreal (145) of Gilroy matched Nevills with his third state title. The two became the 18th and 19th wrestlers in Golden State history to close their careers as three-time state champions.
Three more could join them next season. Sophomore Israel Saavedra (120) of Modesto and junior brothers Zahid (132) and Anthony Valencia (170) of Bellflower St. John Bosco all won for the second time. Saavedra also was part of a brother title act, as senior brother Emilio won at 138.
Zahid Valencia had four pins and a 10-1 major decision, and Anthony’s five wins included three pins and a major decision.
Jeremy Sweany (220) of Vacaville also won his second title.
Sebastian guts it out, voted OW in New Jersey
He’ll undergo surgery for a torn labrum after the season, but Johnny Sebastian (182) helped Oradell Bergen Catholic complete the best season in school history by winning his third state title.
Sebastian, who hit a low single to get past Joey Balboni of Kenilworth David Brearley/Dayton, 6-4 in overtime in the final, was voted the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler. His teammate, sophomore Nick Suriano (113), made the Crusaders the lone team with two champions with a rare blowout win – a 7-0 decision for his second state title – in a tense finals round that saw four matches go to overtime and four others decided by a single point.
Also winning their second titles: junior Craig delaCruz (126) of Bound Brook and seniors Anthony Cefolo (120) of East Hanover Hanover Park, Anthony Giraldo (132) of North Bergen, Dillon Artigliere (170) of Succasunna Roxbury and Bryan Dobzanski (220) of Franklinville Delsea.
The best story of the meet, though, was senior heavyweight Andrew Stevens (37-0), who became the first state champion from Camden High School, and only the fifth wrestler from an inner-city public school to win a New Jersey state title since the state tournament began in 1934. Stevens, who accepted a football scholarship to the University of Maine, was 12-12 as a first-year wrestler his freshman year.
Six repeat in Maryland
Did we mention down-to-the-wire team races? All you had to do was head down I-81 to College Park, Md. There, just four points – combined – decided the team races in the two classes.
Despite going 0-for-3 in the finals, North Hagerstown held off Clarksville River Hill, which went 3-for-3, 96.5-92.5 to win the 4A-3A title. River Hill’s winners included Cory Daniel (220), who finished 46-0 and became one of three two-time champions. The others: juniors Mikey Macklin (113) of Damascus and Marty Margolis (126) of La Plata.
Jake Pooton’s 9-1 major decision in the 182-pound final helped Sykesville South Carroll earn a share of the 2A-1A title with Stevensville Kent Island, both teams finishing with 94.5 points. Junior Charlie Perella (145) of Thurmont Catoctin and seniors Anthony Savage (126) of Ijamsville Oakdale and Matt Olauson (195) of Centreville Queen Anne’s County won their second titles.
Mount Anthony makes bid for final Top 25
After breaking its own state scoring record with 336.5 points and sending 13 to the finals to win its 26th consecutive team title – now the nation’s longest streak – Bennington (Vt.) Mount Anthony had a chance to confirm its standing as one of the best teams in program history with a winning performance in the New England Championships at Providence, R.I.
And the Patriots delivered.
With four-time state champion Jesse Webb (285) winning his second New England title and junior Troy Gassaway (120) also winning, Mount Anthony outscored Danbury (Conn.), 121-108 to complete a perfect season with its second-consecutive New England title.
Tyler Mattison (195) added a second-place finish for the Patriots, Austin Price (182) finished third and Calvin Call (106) sixth. Eight of Mount Anthony’s 13 entries won at least once.
Kevin Jack (126) of Danbury, who also won his second title, was voted the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler after reaching the finals with three pins, then scoring a 15-4 major decision in the finals. Danbury advanced just five to the New England meet, but three advanced to the finals and all five finished in the top four.
Christian Monserrat (138) of Methuen (Mass.), just the second four-time All-State champion in Bay State history, and fellow senior Christian LaBrie (152) of Exeter (R.I.) E.-West Greenwich also won their second titles.
On Jan. 21, Mount Anthony traveled to Danbury for a dual meet, rallying from an early 15-0 deficit to win 39-22.
Same score is lucky for Kaukauna, Coleman
That same score, 39-22, also was lucky for a pair of Wisconsin teams, Kaukauna in Division 1 and Coleman in Division 3.
While the Big Ten Championships were getting under way across the University of Wisconsin campus at the Kohl Center, two teams both built big leads, then coasted to their respective dual state titles at the UW Fieldhouse.
Kaukauna built a 24-3 lead over Green Bay Bay Port in its final, saw the lead cut to 24-16, then put the match away with pins by state champion Ty Lee (106) and Tres Leon (120) and a decision by Ian Gioacchini (113). The Ghosts did not allow a Wisconsin opponent to score in double figures this season until the state semifinals, a 40-21 victory over Burlington.
Sparked by three consecutive victories over state qualifiers, Coleman built a 33-10 lead over Spring Valley/Elmwood before clinching the title on freshman state placewinner Jordan Blanchard’s pin at 113.
Ellsworth won the Division 2 title, 41-12 over Pewaukee. State champions Jens Lantz (126) and Gable Frandson (160) each had two pins as the Panthers lost just six bouts in the tournament.