6 area wrestlers shooting for PIAA medals
Qualifying for the PIAA Wrestling Championships is quite an accomplishment for any wrestler.
But once there for the big show, the object is to at least make a run for a medal; if not gold, then at least try for a spot on the podium and get a ribbon around your neck.
Chambersburg coach Matt Mentzer said, "All three of our kids have a chance to place. They just have to find a way to win three bouts before they lose two. It's not easy."
Wrestling begins Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey with a Class AA session starting at 9 a.m. The Class AAA session begins at 4 p.m. For the second straight year, there are 20 wrestlers in each weight class, so a four-match preliminary round at each weight precedes the first round.
The Trojans lead the way with three qualifiers - junior Aaron Rump at 126 pounds, senior Garrett Kyner at 138 and junior Drew Peck at 182. Also in Class AAA, Shippensburg is sending a pair of juniors in Chandler Olson at 126 and Cameron Tinner at 220.
Southern Fulton's Liam Flaherty, a sophomore who wrestles for Everett under a cooperative arrangement, made the field in Class AA at 120.
Of the six, Rump and Tinner are the only ones with no prior state experience. Olson has two medals already, eighth in 2014 and sixth last year, Kyner is at states for the third straight year and Peck was one win away from a medal a year ago. Flaherty made it as a freshman last year.
Ship coach Tony Yaniello believes Olson (34-2) is in the toughest weight class in the entire tournament, and with good reason. Among the contenders are Luke Karam of Bethlehem Catholic (returning champion), Ethan McCoy of Latrobe (3rd place), Wade Cummings of Downingtown East (4th), Lucas Miller of Boyertown (5th), Olson (6th), as well as Central Dauphin's Tyshawn White (46-0), third at 120 last year, and Cole Manley of Altoona (106 runner-up).
"There's no breath of fresh air in that bracket," Yaniello said, "but you want to see how your wrestler compares. Even with all those other guys, we're concerned about his first match (vs. Kordell Rush of Pennridge, 37-6). He won at 126 at the CV Tournament when Chandler was up at 132, and he's tough and aggressive. But I like Chandler's chances."
If he gets through Rush, it's likely Olson would hit Karam in the quarterfinals. Karam edged OIson 4-2 in the semifinals a year ago.
The Hounds' Tinner enters the tournament as one of the few unbeatens, with his sparkling 33-0 record. His first match will be against the winner of Nathan Barcaskey of Moon vs. Isaiah Spriggs of Bayard Rustin.
Tinner is ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 1 (Jacob Robb of Armstrong, 30-1) and No. 2 (Andrew Boob of Selinsgrove, 28-2) are both on the other side of the bracket. Of course, this weight was thrown wide open when defending champion Jordan Wood of Boyertown was knocked with a rib injury in his district tournament.
Yaniello said, "I don't think Cameron has been behind in a match this year - he's only been taken down one or two times. We've talked about how he'll have to win some close ones this week. But until I see somebody beat him, he's not a fluke."
Chambersburg's Rump and Peck have a very tough road. Rump is in that tough 126 class and Kyner, should he get past his first bout against Abraham Charles of Pennwood would meet last year's runner-up, Luke Pletcher of Latrobe.
"Of the three draws, we were most pleased with Peck's" Mentzer said. "He has some favorable matchups, and I think the bottom half is stronger."
Peck (35-5) meets Dallas' Cole Dixon (39-2) in the first round. Peck is ranked third and Dixon ninth. The No. 1 (Jake Woodley of North Allegheny) and No. 2 Kyle Gentile (Pennridge) are above Peck and could meet in the quarterfinals.
"Dan Craig (Waynesboro coach) came up and worked out with Drew this week, and Tinner and Olson were here, too," Mentzer said. "It was nice to get that extra help."
Rump (33-10) needs one win to reach 100 for his career, and he tangles with Cary Palmer of Council Rock South (27-15) in his opener.
At Kyner's weight, 138, the No. 1 (Pletcher) and No. 2 (Sammy Sasso of Nazareth), both with one loss each, could meet in a quarterfinal.
Mentzer said, "Unless somebody pulls an upset, that could happen - and they're both ranked in the top 10 in the country. At that weight, there will be eight really good first-round matches and a crazy quarterfinal round."
PIAA Class AAA Tournament
126: Aaron Rump (Chambersburg), 33-10 vs. Cary Palmer (Council Rock South), 27-15; 126: Chandler Olson (Shippensburg), 34-2, bye. 138: Garrett Kyner (Chambersburg), 33-7, vs. Abraham Charles (Pennwood), 33-4. 182: Drew Peck (Chambersburg), 35-5, bye; 220: Cameron Tinner (Shippensburg), 33-0, bye.
126: Rump-Palmer winner vs. Chris Eddins (Greensburg Salem), 35-3; 126: Olson vs. Kordell Rush (Pennridge), 35-6; 138: Kyner-Charles winner vs. Luke Pletcher (Latrobe), 39-1; 182: Peck vs. Cole Dixon (Dallas), 39-2; 220: Tinner vs. winner of Nathan Barcaskey (Moon), 35-5, vs. Isaiah Spriggs (Bayard Rustin), 35-8.