Day 1 of the PIAA Wrestling Tournament is in the books and already there are plenty of things to talk about. We’ll start with the most obvious:
The random draw HAS TO GO!
You’d think most would be all for the random draw, but there are some severe flaws in it with a 5-regional pool. No matter how you draw it there are two regional champs that if they each win would have to face each other in the quarterfinals.
Here are just a few of the matchups that’ll occur tomorrow but have no business being contested as a quarterfinal:
113 pounds: Matt Parker (Pennridge, 43-3) vs. Gage Curry (North Hills, 40-0). Parker finished fifth last year and Curry was a runner-up.
120 pounds: KJ Fenstermacher (Liberty, 39-1) vs. Austin DeSanto (Exeter, 48-0). Fenstermacher was a seventh place finisher a year ago and the latter a fifth.
126 pounds: Tyshawn White (Central Dauphin, 47-0) vs. Wade Cummings (Downingtown East, 43-2). White finished third in the state last year while Cummings was fourth a year ago.
138 pounds: Luke Pletcher (Latrobe, 40-1) vs. Sammy Sasso (Nazareth, 45-1). Both these athletes finished as runner-ups last year. This year, one of them won’t even reach the semifinal.
285 pounds: Josh Fye (Bald Eagle, 29-0) vs. Andrew Gunning (Liberty, 39-0). Combined record of 68-0 meeting in a quarterfinal?
I guess in order to be the best you have to beat the best, but it’s a travesty that these matches have to happen at 2 p.m. Friday instead of 9 a.m. on Saturday to kick off the final day, or even in some cases, the main event Saturday at 7 p.m.
Officiating this year is suspect at best!
I know what you are thinking. Officiating is only a problem when you lose. Not true in this case. There have been a plethora of poor calls and even inconsistency of calls. I’ve seen lightweight basically do nothing for a significant period of time without a stall call while I’ve seen heavyweights called for stalling after two seconds of inactivity by the same officials.
We’ve seen takedowns called on the edge very questionably, including one against Central York’s Dylan Chatterton while seeing a similar takedown, albeit further away from the edge. Oh, did I mention this was the same official that made or did not make this same call?
Wrestling is still king in Pennsylvania!
Seeing close to 10,000 people combined between AA and AAA today shows just how important these championships are. Pennsylvania is well renowned as the best wrestling state in the United States and the attendance and enthusiasm from the fans in attendance make it that. Whether it was fans on opposite ends of the arena clapping and cheering as Mifflin County’s Trent Hidlay won an ultimate tie break match on a caution warning. Or even the massive roar that caused my ears to crackle as Andrew Gunning of Liberty recorded a go-ahead takedown in the first round despite trailing the whole match.
If you haven’t experienced these championships in person, you need to make your way up to Hershey Friday or Saturday.
Skin check ends a career
Parkland’s Jacob Lizak, a fifth-place finisher in 2014 and a four-time qualifier saw his storied career come to an end after failing a skin check. After the debacle that was the wrestlers safety at the District 3 tournament, PIAA meant business. Even with Lizak’s skin check the mats were cleaned between each session and again at the end of the night. I’d also expect the mats to be cleaned in the morning when the crews arrive.
Despite struggles in prelims and first rounds, the YAIAA fared OK
With just four quarterfinalists, two in each AA and AAA, the YAIAA struggled to win bouts early on in the tournament. However, of the 20 wrestlers the league brought to the tournament 16 still remain. 12 of them need two wins to earn a state medal while the other four with just one win will earn one.
Action at Giant Center resumes Friday morning at 9 a.m. with the Class AA quarterfinals and consolation second and third rounds while AAA wrestling returns at 2:15 p.m. with the same rounds. Day 2 action concludes with the Class AA semifinals, fourth and fifth round consolations.