Following the career progression of Downingtown West's Gabe Hale, it would make sense that this will be the year he ends his season in Hershey.
After going 11-22 as a freshman and not getting out of sectionals, Hale qualified for districts as a sophomore and regionals last winter as a junior. Unfortunately it's that last step that is the toughest, earning a trip to the state tournament.
Coming off a relatively easy go of it at the Ches-Mont Championships last week, Hale will likely get a better test, and better gauge as to where he's at, Saturday at the Class AAA District 1 Central tournament at Oxford High.
The top seven finishers from the Ches-Monts join the top four from the Suburban One American Division to comprise the brackets. From there, the top three from each weight class will advance to the Southeast Regional tournament at Pottstown the following weekend. Wrestling will begin at Oxford at 9:30 a.m., and the finals are slated for 6 p.m.
The Suburban One American is the weakest of the three divisions in the league and is not as deep as it has been in years past. But there are a handful of wrestlers who will be very hard to beat by anyone in the Ches-Mont.
Hale could very well see one those tough challenges in Norristown's Rashon Lusane, who won the 152-pound district title last season and reached states as a freshman.Here is a weight-by-weight look at what to expect Saturday on the road to regionals.
Avon Grove's Edgar Garcia is looking for his second consecutive district crown and is the favorite. West Chester Rustin's Brett Kaliner finds himself on the same side of the bracket once again, and while he may be the second-best wrestler at this weight, he will likely have to fight for third again. If Coatesville's Sean McBride can win his pigtail he will see Downingtown West's Troy Smith, whom he beat earlier in the season. Downingtown East's James Strommer is itching to get a rubber match against Smith in the semis, but will have to get past West Chester Henderson's Jacob Reid and Norristown's Justin Altrogge first.
We could very well see a rematch of last weekend's final between Downingtown East's Jude McDowell and West Chester East's Noah Hankin. If Rustin's Jon Reardon is on his game he can win his pigtail and give McDowell a go. Octorara's Rico Camacho is up top, as well, and the junior wrestled his best last weekend. On the bottom half, Unionville's Bobby Murray is looking for revenge against Avon Grove's undersized, but gutty, Kevin Edwards. The winner gets Norristown's Eric Fuentes on the way to Hankin in the semis.
This has all the look of a rematch between Downingtown East's Wade Cummings and Henderson's Kyle Medrow. Cummings likely has to deal with Coatesville's Colin McBride in the semis. Medrow is favored on the bottom half with American Division champ Francesco Palagruto of Plymouth Whitemarsh on his side. Medrow is a big-move wrestler and will need to dip into his bag of tricks against Cummings after losing by major decision and technical fall the last two contests.
Coatesville's Chase Stephens lost a heart-breaker to Downingtown East's Jared Leonetti in the Ches-Mont finals but actually got the more favorable draw. Sun Valley's Sean Donohue is on Stephens' side, as is Cheltenham freshman August Gershwin. Leonetti is the top seed but may have to tango with Henderson's Joey Wilson, a returning regional qualifier, in semis. Both Stephens and Wilson are looking to avenge tough losses a week ago, but Leonetti has been able to find ways to win.
It'd be easy to pencil in another rematch of Unionville's Nate Chaclas and Henderson's Josh Nichter, but the American Division has a pair of up-and-comers to deal with. Chaclas could get Upper Dublin's sophomore Colin Devlin, who has just three losses on the season. Nichter has Plymouth Whitemarsh's junior Gianpiero DiBattista on his side, as well as Downingtown West's Tristan Reynolds. Chaclas edged Nichter in the Ches-Mont finals so expect a motivated Nichter.
Once again a very deep, even weight. Sun Valley's Sean Elliott is the favorite again and the junior has Downingtown West's Cole Zapf, who showed a ton of grit as a freshman last week, and Henderson's Brad Patton on his side. On the opposite side, Unionville's Ian Larson is looking for a rematch against Downingtown East's Austin Lillis, after being pinned by him last week. Octorara's Troy McBride and Rustin's Matt Ricci face each other in a win-or-go-home pigtail, and the winner has as good of a chance as anyone on the bottom to reach the finals.
Great Valley's Shane Ruhnke was dominant at Ches-Monts and is the clear favorite here. Rustin's Thomas Hatzipavlides and Coatesville's Noah Stephens are on his side. Unionville's Mike Caldwell is the front-runner to meet Ruhnke in the finals a second straight week. Upper Moreland's Anthony DeLaurentis is the American Division champ and will take on the winner of the bout between Downingtown East's Matt Fischer and Avon Grove's Garrett Compton.
This is the first weight where the American Division has an odds-on favorite. Norristown's Mike Springer, a two-time state qualifier and medalist as a sophomore, is the one to beat and may see a pair of Downingtowners in East's James Meyer and West's Manoa Taniguchi. Sun Valley's Steve Okoorian is up top, along with Coatesville's Stanley Woodward, who is looking to have a bounce-back effort.
Once again, the American Division has the favorite. Upper Moreland's Dom DeLaurentis was the Outstanding Wrestler of his tournament a week ago and is a major hurdle on the bottom of the bracket, with Coatesville's Zach Dellicompagni. If both can get there, Downingtown East's Chris Jarani and Wissahickon Pat Fennell will make for a very tight semi, that frankly screams overtime. Rustin's Shane Boyer and Henderson's Max Sontag are up top, too.
Hale is expected to reach the finals from the top and would face either Coatesville's Nick Guinta or Upper Dublin's Ben Gause in semis. Lusane is the natural favorite with his resume, but many expect a tight final. To get there, Lusane has Rustin's Costas Hatzipavlides and Octorara's Nick Prange on his side.
Avon Grove's Caleb Edwards didn't have any threat at Ches-Monts, pinning his way to a title, and it doesn't look much tougher this week. With another win, Edwards will have 100 for his career. Great Valley's Dom DiPiazza has Cheltenham's Connor Barton for a chance to take on Edwards in the semis. On the bottom half, Downingtown East's Jason Gibson is in line for a date with Plymouth Whitemarsh's Austin Pollock in the semis, and it could be another Edwards-Gibson final.
Downingtown East's Adam Pleines is a win away from his 100th for his career, and the undefeated senior will be hard to beat again this week. West Chester East's Rob Ritrovato is on his side of the bracket. Coatesville's Wesley McGuire has a good track back to the finals, though Norristown's Isaiah Samules will be tough. Great Valley's Marcus Johnson and Avon Grove's Rob Hoffman are on the bottom of the bracket, as well.
Coatesville's Mike Boykin was an absolute bully last week, having his way with whomever opposed him. Don't expect anything different this week, as the first two weeks of the postseason appear to be a tune-up for a regional and state run. Downingtown East's Billy McGinley has a good chance to see Boykin again in the finals. Norristown's Shaun Jones is on McGinley's side, and while he's only 10-8, Norristown tends to get a lot out of its upperweights.
There will be a regional-worthy wrestler not moving on from this weight this week. Norristown's Shaheed Hill is the slight favorite, largely because of a win over Downingtown East's Sean Snodgrass earlier in the season. Hill has Henderson's Jimmy McDonald and Great Valley's Dean Lang on his side to deal with. Snodgrass will likely get Kennett's Cory Tomasetti in the semis. The loser of each semi will likely set up one of the more competitive consolation finals.
Other area wrestling
Conestoga qualified nine wrestlers to the District 1 West tournament, which looks much deeper than the Central League tournament as the PAC-10 and Central League combine. The tournament begins at Spring-Ford at 9:30 a.m., with the finals at 6 p.m. The top three from each weight advance.
Dan Iredale (145 pounds) and Michael Karas (220) won titles a week ago. Iredale doesn't have an easy draw to the finals, with Boyertown's Dylan Wertz and Pottstown's Patrick Bohn on his side. Owen J. Roberts' Dominick Petrucelli is expected to reach the finals from the top.
Karas has a tough draw, as well, with Pottstown's Josh Slody and Perkiomen Valley's Luke DiElsi on his side. Up top is Boyertown's super sophomore Jordan Wood and Spring-Ford's Mason Romano.
Conestoga's freshman Eric Hutchinson took third at 113 pounds in the Central League and he is a part of the deepest weight of the tournament. The top six ranked healthy wrestlers at 113 in District 1 will all compete here, making Hutchinson's task brutal.
Malvern Prep qualified seven wrestlers for Prep Nationals, including three state champs — Nick Lattanze (106), Matt Lattanze (132) and Jake Anderson (220). Qualifiers from Malvern, Westtown and Phelps School will compete in the two-day tournament today and Saturday at Lehigh University.
Also moving on for Malvern was Frank Satriale (third at 113), Patrick Devine (fifth at 160), Ryder Harkins (second at 182) and Pete Ciesielski (fourth at 285). Nick Lattanze and Anderson are No. 1 seeds at nationals, while Matt Lattanze is No. 3.
Westtown's Luke Neal (138), Clay McKee (170) and Ethan Fye (182) took third at states. McKee is the No. 8 seed, while McKee is No. 10. Jake Scully (106), Jared Marshall (126) and Eric Ekas (195) will compete at nationals for Westtown, as well.
Phelps sends two to nationals, Fred Mase (113), who finished second at states, and Al Ciccitto (132), who placed third. Mase is the No. 8 seed at Lehigh, while Ciccitto is No. 13.
1. Nick Lattanze, Soph., Malvern Prep, 50-6
2. Edgar Garcia, Sr., Avon Grove, 27-5
3. Brett Kaliner, Fr., West Chester Rustin, 32-6
1. Fred Mase, Jr., Phelps School, 42-6
2. Eric Hutchinson, Fr., Conestoga, 22-8
3. Jude McDowell, Soph., Downingtown East, 24-14
1. Wade Cummings, Soph., Downingtown East, 38-0
2. Kyle Medrow, Soph., West Chester Henderson, 31-4
3. Colin McBride, Soph., Coatesville 31-4
1. Jared Leoentti, Sr., Downingtown East, 35-2
2. Chase Stephens, Fr., Coatesville, 26-5
3. Joey Wilson, Jr., West Chester Henderson, 31-5
1. Matt Lattanze, Soph., Malvern Prep, 41-4
2. Al Ciccitto, Soph., Phelps School, 39-4
3. Nate Chaclas, Sr., Unionville, 29-7
1. Austin Lillis, Jr., Downingtown East, 28-6
2. Brad Patton, Sr., West Chester Henderson, 20-6
3. Troy McBride, Sr., Octorara, 26-9
1. Shane Ruhnke, Sr., Great Valley, 29-3
2. Mike Caldwell, Sr., Unionville, 32-7
3. Noah Stephens, Sr., Coatesville, 26-4
1. Manoa Taniguchi, Jr., Downingtown West, 25-12
2. Stanley Woodward, Sr., Coatesville, 26-8
3. James Meyer, Jr., Downingtown East, 28-13
1. Christian Jarani, Sr., Downingtown East, 37-2
2. Zach Dellicompagni, Jr., Coatesville, 25-10
3. Max Sontag, Jr., West Chester Henderson, 17-13
1. Gabe Hale, Sr., Downingtown West, 32-3
2. Clay McKee, Sr., Westtown, 35-5
3. Nick Prange, Sr., Octorara, 27-6
1. Caleb Edwards, Sr., Avon Grove, 27-1
2. Ryder Harkins, Sr., Malvern Prep, 45-9
3. Jason Gibson, Jr., Downingtown East, 27-7
1. Adam Pleines, Sr., Downingtown East, 37-0
2. Wesley McGuire, Jr., Coatesville, 27-7
3. Rob Ritrovato, Sr., West Chester East, 26-8
1. Mike Boykin, Sr., Coatesville, 30-0
2. Jake Anderson, Sr., Malvern Prep, 46-4
3. Billy McGinley, Jr., Downingtown East, 32-7
1. Sean Snodgrass, Sr., Downingtown East, 34-3
2. Dean Lang, Sr., Great Valley, 28-3
3. Cory Tomasetti, Sr., Kennett, 29-6