Notes from Hershey: Farley, Roberts to collide?
The following notes will be published in our print edition Friday, but I figured they'd make for good blog fodder, as well. I also added a couple extra tidbits the end for everybody's enjoyment.
HERSHEY -- To get to a state title, Bermudian Springs' Brad Farley (36-1) may have to go through North Star sophomore Nick Roberts -- the defending Class AA 103-pound champion.
Farley said he's wrestled Roberts (36-0) before, but not since he was 10 or 11 years old. In other words, the experience won't help much should the two meet.
Farley and Roberts are on opposite side of the bracket, so if they do match up, it won't be until the final.
"You have to go match at a time and see what happens," Farley said.
No respect: Being a returning finalist meant little during the Class AAA opening session as four, including a returning state champion, were dropped immediately into the wrestlebacks.
Connellsville's Nate Gaffney, the 2009 215-pound gold medalist, lost in a convincing manner, 6-2, to Methacton's Brandan Clark. That win was also Clark's 100th of his career.
Blue Mountain's Tyler Rauenzahn, Bradford's Mark Havers and Cedar Cliff's Clint Morrison each left Hershey with silver medals but can only place third this year after losing Thursday afternoon.
Kennard-Dale's Victor Bracey had the unfortunate luck of meeting Rauenzahn in the first round of consolations and was eliminate from further competition.
Flohr healthy this year: Upsets were few and far between in Class AA action. But a YAIAA entrant turned in one.
Fairfield's Kyle Flohr made a big splash early Thursday, scoring a surprising, 6-4 decision over Muncy's Zach Strickland at 152 pounds.
Last year, Flohr was two-and-done at states. The difference this time? He's healthy.
Flohr wrestled at Giant Center last year with an achy right knee -- the result of a bone chip that was floating around.
"My knee looked like a cantaloupe," Flohr said.
The junior had arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason. He feels fine now, except for the cold that he's fought the last week or so.
"I was popping medicine, and now I'm back and getting all excited," Flohr said. "My goal is just to get top four. That's what I want."
Time for homework: Class AA wrestlers who won their preliminary round bouts Thursday morning were left with the rest of the day off. They'll be back in action today, starting with the quarterfinals scheduled for 8 a.m.
In the meantime, what did Thursday's early winners do with their free time?
For Biglerville 125-pounder Laike Gardner, it was back to his hotel to work on some marketing homework.
"I have time today, so I might as well get it out of the way," the sophomore said.
Team race: One of the biggest points of discussion heading into the tournament was Central Dauphin's slipping grip on the Class AAA titles.
The Rams have won six consecutive team titles, three in the state team duals and three in Giant Center. But this weekend, the Mid-Penn Conference powerhouse brought only four wrestlers to Hershey.
Meanwhile, Central Mountain out of District 6 -- losers to Central Dauphin in the team duals semifinal round -- qualified seven wrestlers and will likely end the Rams' streak after a 6-for-7 opening round.
Little consolation: The YAIAA had next-to-no luck in the Class AA first-round consolations Thursday.
Of the six local wrestlers that dropped their preliminary bouts, only one -- York Suburban's Stan Williams -- won his first wrestleback. Even that victory came at the expense of a York-Adams grappler -- Williams won a 5-4 decision over Delone's Joseph Kreiner.
Kreiner and four other Class AA competitors went two-and-done: Delone's Joseph Byers (103), Bermudian's Dalton Anthony (140), Suburban's Jordan Knaub (152) and Fairfield's Dylan Ferguson (215).
Plummer looking strong: Ricardo Plummer (pictured above) has improved steadily during his York Suburban career. This year, he made the jump from a decent 16-7 record in 2008-09 to a state title contender
The Trojans senior 171-pounder looked comfortable during his 9-4 decision in the Class AA, preliminary round over Keystone Oaks' Michael Kazalas on Thursday.
"It's a great experience," Plummer said of his first visit to states. "I just want to live it and have fun, go out there and wrestle my matches, and hopefully come out on top."
After a few early takedowns by Plummer, Kazalas seemed to keep his distance the rest of the match.
Plummer shows great quickness for his size -- something that could make the Southeast region's top seed a tough out.
"I want to at least medal," Plummer said. "That's everybody's goal coming in here."