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Sunday, November 20, 2011

College news and notes 11/20

With a little luck and some great wrestling skill, Pennsylvania could have three of the top 10 Division I wrestling teams heading into next week.
No. 2 Penn State hosts No. 4 Minnesota at noon today in a match that will be televised live by the Big Ten Network. At the same time, 180 miles to the east, No. 8 Lehigh will be taking on No. 7 Illinois.
If the Nittany Lions and Mountain Hawks each take care of business at home - which is no sure thing - they'll likely be joined in the top 10 rankings by the surprising Pitt Panthers.
Rande Stottlemyer's team beat the sixth-ranked team in the country for a second consecutive weekend. After beating Lehigh on the road a week ago, Pitt stopped No. 6 Michigan on Saturday night. Zac Thomusseit scored a takedown with two seconds left in overtime for a 3-1 victory that sealed the Panthers' 19-13 victory.
You can watch every match from the dual, plus an interview with Pitt assistant Jason Peters, at flowrestling.com.
Even though Michigan was without several starters, including defending national champion Kellen Russell, it was a big win for the Panthers. I have an email in to Pitt asking when the last time the Panthers were ranked so high, but haven't heard back yet. I can't remember it having happened there in the past two decades, although there might have been a brief appearance in top 10 earlier this decade.
The Panthers won't wrestle another dual meet for nearly three weeks, when No. 10 Ohio State visits on Dec. 9. After that, the schedule gets considerably easier. It's possible that Pitt might not face another ranked team until closing out the dual-meet season with a home match against Edinboro on Feb. 17 and at Penn State on Feb. 19.
---
Speaking of the Nittany Lions, the defending champions found a way to shine even when the team wasn't in action. Five Penn State wrestlers won titles at the Mercyhurst Laker Open. Kyle Moran (141 pounds), Seth Beitz (149), Matt Brown (174), Justin Ortega (197) and Jon Gingrich (285) each claimed championships in Erie.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Big weekend for colleges in Pa.

It's a big weekend for college wrestling in Pennsylvania. The highlight, of course, is Sunday's showdown between Big Ten powers Minnesota and Penn State.
But there's also a big match 130 miles to the west tonight as No. 11 Pitt hosts No. 6 Michigan.
I don't have the time to preview each of these big duals in the way I would like to, but I've collected some other people's previews.
The fine folks at Flowrestling preview that match here while here is a link to Pitt's match notes and Michigan's match notes.
I'm hoping to make it Pittsburgh tonight to see the Panthers and Wolverines clash, but if you can't, I believe you can still catch at flowrestling.com.
Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it to State College for Sunday's big match, but I'll have my DVR set for the Big Ten Network, which will show the match live.
In terms of previewing it, there are some options out there. If you're patient, the guys in this video offer some informative stuff, even though about 17 of the 31 minutes are about themselves, not the dual. Here are the Penn State match notes.
The Golden Gophers are coming off Friday night's loss at Cornell, but I've seen some projections that have Minnesota pulling off the upset.

Opening-night loss not a good sign for UPJ

Pitt-Johnstown's 20-17 loss to West Liberty on Friday could be the beginning of a rough year for the Mountain Cats.
Yes, No. 8 UPJ was missing a pair of injured starters. And, yes, West Liberty wouldn't have been in the dual if not for a rare defensive fall at 174 pounds. But, accepting those things, there still were some troubling trends for the Mountain Cats.
The obvious problem was the fact that UPJ lost its final four matches. That won't happen on most nights, if only because Travis McKillop should be a solid fixture at 174 for the next four years. Jordan Nolan's defensive fall is the kind of thing you see maybe once a season.
But the final three weights could continue to be a problem, with Gary Lantz wrestling up a weight (he was at 165 last year!) at 184 pounds and two inexperienced wrestlers in Zak Newton and Josh Krupa at 197 and 285, respectively.
Pat Pecora
That's not to say that Newton and Krupa can't develop into solid points producers for Pat Pecora. It's just that there will be some growing pains. Both showed flashes of that potential last night. Newton scored a first-period takedown and put his athleticism on display. Krupa unleashed the double-leg takedown that was so devastating at Bedford High School, taking down seventh-ranked J.D. Ramsey once and getting close on at least two other attempts.
But in what might have been the most troubling sign of the night, West Liberty looked like the better-conditioned team in the upper weights. Part of the reason for the Mountain Cats' dominance - 20 regional titles in Pecora's 35 years - is that they always seemed to be in so much better shape than the competition. That wasn't the case on Friday night. Lantz was clearly gassed at the end of his match - though he almost scored the winning takedown at the end of regulation - and was outscored 4-1 in the third period and overtime of his match.
Newton gave up a takedown and a riding-time point in the third period of his match.
Krupa was within a point entering the third period but got put on his back twice and and gave up a riding-time point as Ramsey ended the night with a major decision.
Not all of the Mountain Cats struggled in the third - Zach Lundgren was bouncing on his toes after beating Jarrod Shaw at 165 and sprinted off the mat, presumably for a post-match workout - but most didn't include the strong finish that has become a trademark of Pecora-coached teams.
Friday night was not the kind of ending that he - or UPJ fans - expect. And it's not one that Pecora will accept. As one Mountain Cat wrestler told me, the real story might be what happens at practice this evening.
In other words, they're going to be in for some long and intense workouts. If not, it's going to be an even longer year.

Update to the Giant Wrestling Calendar

Special thanks to the WestPAC's Paul Leonard, who let me know that the conference will be holding its first tournament on Feb. 11, 2012, at Meyersdale beginning at 9 a.m.
I'd heard rumors that it was going to happen - I've been told that conference tournaments don't cost teams valuable scheduling points like others do, but I'm not sure if that's true or not - but didn't have a date on. Paul gave me the info last night, so it's now been added to the Giant Wrestling Calendar.
As someone who grew up wrestling in the old Appalachian Conference tournament, it's great to see these schools getting together for an event. The WestPAC won't a very big event - the only schools with wrestling are Berlin, Conemaugh Township, Meyersdale, North Star, Portage and Shade - but if it doesn't cost them any points to compete in it, why not?
It probably won't be a problem this year, but the date of the tournament has the potential to eliminate another squad. That's because the PIAA duals in Hershey also are set for Feb. 11. Odds of any WestPAC teams advancing that far are slim, but North Star has made it to Hershey in the past.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Previewing UPJ vs. West Liberty

In Pat Pecora's mind, four teams distanced themselves from the pack at last weekend's W&J Open: Division I West Virginia along with three DII teams - Mercyhurst, West Liberty and Pecora's own Pitt-Johnstown squad.
The latter two will meet tonight at the Sports Center in the dual-meet opener for both teams. UPJ is offering a free live stream of the match as well as live scoring.
Pecora's eighth-ranked Mountain Cats have two All-Americans and two other returning national qualifiers back from last season. They also have a rarity in a true freshman starter in PIAA champion Travis McKillop of Burrell. You can check out my full season preview here.
McKillop (174 pounds) joined UPJ teammates Ryan Link (133) and Zach Lundgren (165) in winning titles at Washington & Jefferson. West Liberty got a 149-pound championship from Art Hobley.
"It’s going to be a tough one," Pecora said. "West Liberty is always a solid, solid team. They have a solid program. They’re in our region, so it’s a very, very important match. It has consequences in regional seedings and national rankings."
UPJ offers a complete breakdown of tonight's potential matches. I won't rehash it here, but instead look at how the matchups compare to the W&J results.
125-Forest Hills grad David Fogle should get a rematch at 125 pounds with West Liberty's Joe Wagstaff, whom he beat 8-0 in the first round. Looks like a good start for the Mountain Cats.
133-Link, a returning All-American, didn't wrestle tonight's projected opponent, Dillon Nolte at 133 last week. But Link did beat West Virginia's Jesse Schiffbauer 15-5 in the semifinals. Schiffbauer teched Nolte, 17-2, in the quarters. Should be bonus points for UPJ.
141-Jack Bachman was scheduled to wrestle West Liberty's Nick Wykoff for fifth place at W&J but forfeited. Bachman actually forfeited his final two matches - to Mercyhurst's Logan Kellogg and Wykoff. Both are on UPJ's schedule, so I don't know if that was the main factor in skipping the matches or if Bachman was simply dinged up. Unless there's a significant injury, it's hard to go against Bachman, a returning All-American.
149-This one could be interesting. Hobley's a redshirt freshman who gave up just 10 points total in winning five matches for the W&J title. UPJ's Nathan Link is a fifth-year senior and returning national qualifier. He won his first two matches at W&J before defaulting out. Again, no word from Pecora about a significant injury, but last week's results seem to favor West Liberty, even though Link is ranked seventh nationally.
157-UPJ's David Cawley won four matches at W&J before forfeiting to West Liberty's Matt Thomas. No word on whether Thomas or David Schlieper will be in the lineup tonight, but both placed at W&J. Interestingly, UPJ backup Joel Paolo was the highest finisher from either school, as he came in third.
165-Lundgren beat West Liberty's Jordan Nolan 9-3 for the W&J title, but Nolan isn't expected to go tonight according to the Mountain Cats' match notes. Instead, Lundgren could face another national qualifer in Jarrod Shaw, who did not wrestle at W&J. Shaw is ranked a spot ahead of Lundgren in the regional rankings, so this looks like a toss-up.
174-McKillop was impressive in his debut, with two pins and a major decision on his way to the title, but could face a bigger test tonight. West Liberty's Matt Littleton, who did not wrestle at W&J, is ranked third in the region. Could be the highlight of the night.
184-Like Cawley, Gary Lantz is bumping up two weight classes from where he was last year. In fact, Lantz is up 10 pounds from last week, when he placed third at the W&J Open. Tonight, he'll face Derrick Williams, a fourth-place finisher at 184 pounds last week. If they are that evenly matched, the 10-pound weight difference would seem to be too much for Lantz to overcome, but UPJ freshman Nikos Garofola beat Williams 5-1, so maybe Lantz should be the favorite.
197-West Liberty's Jacob Donley took second at W&J while UPJ's Zak Newton went 4-1. Newton lost to Mercyhurst's Brian Slattery - who was beaten by Donley - in the first round, but the Penn Cambria graduate and St. Francis transfer bounced back with a solid day. Pecora said he got better with each match, but after taking two of the previous three years off to concentrate on football, this match might bee too much for him.
285-West Liberty looks to have the advantage here. Seventh-ranked J.D. Ramsey took second at W&J while UPJ's Josh Krupa went 2-2 and was pinned by Hilltoppers' backup Mike Carpenter.
Overall, I'd expect a UPJ victory, but West Liberty should win a few matches.
"We’ll see where we’re at right away," Pecora said. "Things are going to get going right off the bat."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Giant Wrestling Calendar

Hi, my name is Eric and I'm a wrestling addict. It's been nearly eight months since I've attended a match.
There, I got that off of my chest.
And while I plan to rectify that soon enough - I'm scheduled to cover UPJ's first dual meet on Friday night - all this time away from the mats has given me plenty of time to plot out which matches I want to see this season. (By the way, I have a Mountain Cats season preview appearing in Friday's Tribune-Democrat. The truncated version of that will appear at www.tribdem.com. I'm also planning a preview of tomorrow's match with West Liberty right here. If you need more of a UPJ fix, check out their season preview or the look at Friday's dual. UPJ also will offer live coverage of the match, both in the form of stats and streaming video. You can find both here.)
But back to my original point: I've put together a list of matches that my newspaper could/should be covering or ones that I realistically could attend. (Not that my schedule or my wife will actually allow me to see all of these in person).
Most of it revolves around high school teams from The Tribune-Democrat's coverage area, which includes parts of District 5 and 6, but it features some college matches as well. UPJ home matches are included, as are select Pitt and Penn State duals. I even listed some big events like the Ironman tournament in Ohio, the Beast of the East event in Delaware and the Division I national tournament in St. Louis at the end of the season, though I probably won't be able to make any of those.
At any rate, it includes some of the bigger dual meets and tournaments in the Greater Johnstown area and can provide a quick reference guide to wrestling fans in the region. It's not set in stone by any means - I came up with it more than a month ago, basing it mostly on what matchups would have been interesting in the past few years. I haven't broken down lineups this season, so some of these might end up being blowouts while I've skipped some that could be must-see events. If you think I've missed something, feel free to let me know. Or, if you see any errors in dates, locations, etc., please tell me.
Without further ado ...


Fri., 11/18        West Liberty at UPJ, 7 p.m.
Sat., 11/19       Michigan at Pitt, 7 p.m.
Sun., 11/20      Minnesota at Penn State, noon
Fri., 12/2          Findlay at UPJ, 7 p.m.
Sun., 12/4        Penn State Open
Fri., 12/9          Conemaugh Township tournament at Davidsville
Sat., 12/10       Conemaugh Township tournament at Davidsville
Sun., 12/11      West Virginia at Penn State, 2 p.m.
Sun., 12/11      Walsh Ironman finals at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio,
Tue., 12/13      Bedford at North Star
Thu., 12/15      Westmont Hilltop at Bedford
Fri., 12/16        Penn Cambria tournament at Cresson
Sat., 12/17       Penn Cambria tournament at Cresson
Sun. 12/18       Beast of East championships, 3:15 p.m.
Sun., 12/18      Lock Haven at Penn State, 2 p.m.
Tue., 12/20      Forest Hills at Westmont Hilltop
Thu., 12/22      Bedford at Chestnut Ridge
Wed., 12/28     Wilkes Open
Thu., 12/29      POWERade tournament at Canonsburg
Fri., 12/30        POWERade tournament at Canonsburg
Wed., 1/4         Berlin at Chestnut Ridge
Thu., 1/5          Meyersdale at Conemaugh Township
Fri., 1/6            Kutztown at UPJ, 7 p.m.
Sat., 1/7           Pitt Duals at Pitt (Columbia, Eastern Michigan, Princeton, VMI)
Wed., 1/11       Mercyhurst at UPJ, 7 p.m.
Fri., 1/13          Lock Haven at Pitt
Sat., 1/14         Escape the Rock finals at Council Rock South, Holland, Pa.
Tue., 1/17        Westmont Hilltop at Somerset
Thu., 1/19        Bedford at Somerset MOVED TO 1/25
Fri., 1/20          Richland Duals
Fri., 1/20          Super Region I Duals at UPJ, 6/8 p.m.
Sat., 1/21         Richland Duals
Sat., 1/21         Super Region I Duals at UPJ, 9/11 a.m., 1/3 p.m.
Sun., 1/22        Iowa at Penn State, 2 p.m.
Fri., 1/27          Thomas tournament at Bedford
Sat., 1/28          Thomas tournament at Bedford
Sun., 1/29        Ohio State at Penn State, 2 p.m.
Wed., 2/1         Gannon at UPJ, 7 p.m.
Thu., 2/2          District 5 duals
Sat., 2/4           District 5 duals
Sat., 2/4           District 6 duals (assumed)
Sun., 2/5          Michigan at Penn State, 2 p.m.
Thu., 2/9          PIAA team duals at Hershey
Fri., 2/10          PIAA team duals at Hershey
Sat., 2/11         PIAA team duals at Hershey
Sat., 2/11         Anderson at UPJ, 7 p.m.
Sat., 2/11         WestPAC Tournament at Meyersdale, 9 a.m. (NEW EDITION)
Fri. 2/17           District 6 Class AA tournament at Altoona
Sat. 2/18          District 6 Class AA tournament at Altoona
Sun., 2/19        Pitt at Penn State, 2 p.m.
Fri., 2/24          District 5 Class AA tournament at Windber
Fri. 2/24           District 6 Class AAA tournament at Altoona
Sat., 2/25         District 5 Class AA tournament at Windber
Sat. 2/25          District 6 Class AAA tournament at Altoona
Fri., 3/2            Southwest Regional Class AA tournament at Johnstown
Fri., 3/2            Northwest Regional Class AAA tournament at Altoona
Sat. 3/3            Southwest Regional Class AA tournament at Johnstown
Sat., 3/3           Northwest Regional Class AAA tournament at Altoona
Sun., 3/4          EWL Championships at Clarion
Thu., 3/8          PIAA Championships at Hershey
Fri., 3/9            PIAA Championships at Hershey
Sat., 3/10         PIAA Championships at Hershey
Thu., 3/15        NCAA Championships at St. Louis
Fri., 3/16          NCAA Championships at St. Louis
Sat., 3/17         NCAA Championships at St. Louis
Sun., 3/25        Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic at Pittsburgh, 4 p.m.

Wiercioch cleared, Retherford still waiting

Very happy that I'm not covering the PIAA hearings for Cody Wiercioch and Zain Retherford.
Sounds like the PIAA wimped out the Retherford decision and kicked it back to the district. I've been following Mitch Rupert on Twitter for updates. In the meantime, Retherford will be able to practice with Benton but won't be able to compete. That groundbreaking decision came about two hours after the scheduled start time for the hearing.
Of course, that's much better than the Wiercioch hearing. Two and a half hours after its scheduled start, Joe Tuscano is tweeting that there still has been no decision on the eligibility for the current Canon-McMillan wrestler.
Both reporters mentioned above should have stories on their respective wrestlers. Rod Frisco is also a good bet for some solid coverage of the hearing.

Update: Tuscano tweets that Wiercioch has been unanimously approved by PIAA to wrestle for Canon-Mac this season. He should have a great report on it at http://www.observer-reporter.com/ by late tonight/early tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A big day for PIAA wrestling

While the high school wrestling season is still nearly a month away and plenty can happen between now and the PIAA tournament, one of the biggest days on the wrestling calendar is almost upon us - Nov. 17.
Doesn't ring a bell?
Well, it would if you lived in the Benton or Canon-McMillan school districts.
Those two wrestling heavyweights are about to find out how much punch they'll be packing this winter.
It's decision day for the PIAA regarding the recent transfers of Cody Wiercioch and Zain Retherford.
Wiercioch, who won a Class AA title at 152 pounds as a freshman before losing in the 160-pound final last year, transferred from Charleroi to Canon-McMillan.
Retherford, who knocked off defending champion Nick Roberts of North Star on his way to the 103-pound title in 2009, finished third a year ago at 112 last season. Both of his medals came while wearing a Line Mountain uniform.
But Retherford recently transferred to Benton, the tiny wrestling hotbed in Columbia County.
Like Wierioch, Retherford was declared ineligible by his home district earlier this year.
By early Thursday evening, they'll both find out if they can bolster powerhouse programs or have to sit out their entire junior seasons. How the PIAA rules will have a huge impact on both team and individual championships.
For a more in-depth look at their individual situations, check out Rod Frisco's site from last month.
The debate over transfers is a heated one. No one wants kids transferring schools every other year in an effort to find a better wrestling room. But, at the same time, if my hypothetical daughter wants to leave School A for School B because the latter has a better band and better positions her to get a scholarship, who's going to stand in her way?
I don't envy those charged with making these monumental decisions, ones that will alter the lives of both young men involved immeasurably.

Tooting my own horn

Oh yeah, I forgot, a totally self-serving post, too: Check out my first-ever article for Intermat - a feature on Lehigh's Robert Hamlin - here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Westmont grad finishes second at Wolfpack Open

T-Hough is proving to be plenty T-O-U-G-H.
Westmont Hilltop graduate Tanner Hough, a true freshman 141-pounder at Duke, improved to 8-1 in his young career with a second-place finish at the Wolfpack Open in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday.
Hough had two pins and a major decision - giving him four falls and three majors already - before falling to Virginia's Nick Nelson in the championship match. Nelson, who is ranked 13th nationally by Intermat, was able to ride out Hough for a 3-2 victory.
Before that, Hough - who finished second in the PIAA Class AAA tournament last season - was dominant. He started the day with a fall over Campbell's Tony Donati in 1:45. After a 9-1 rout of VMI's David Yost, Hough pinned Old Dominion's Taylor Moeder in 4:26 to reach the finals.
The fact that Hough was able to stick with Nelson, a redshirt senior from Shaler, shows that the Cradle Kid is ready for big-time college wrestling. He'll have to wait a year to prove exactly how he stacks up, however, as the plan is for Duke's talented freshman class to redshirt this season.
Nelson was one of five Virginia wrestlers to capture Wolfpack titles, and one of three who hails from Pennsylvania. Former Lewistown standout Matt Snyder beat another Pa. product - N.C. State's Colton Fought (Benton) - in the 125-pound championship bout. The Cavaliers' Jon Fausey (Line Mountain) captured the 184-pound title.
___

Penn State certainly didn't disappoint in its first dual meet since winning the NCAA title last season.
The second-ranked Nittany Lions mauled Bloomsburg 39-3 on Sunday in front of more than 6,000 fans.

Not surprisingly, Penn State's three top-ranked wrestlers - Frank Molinaro (149), David Taylor (165) and Bald Eagle Area graduate Quentin Wright (184) - led the way. Taylor and Wright each had falls while Molinaro scored a tech fall.

See post-match interviews or check out the full recap from Penn State.


As talented as Cael Sanderson's team is - and make no mistake, Penn State's lineup is as good as any in the country - it's still very young. Four freshmen were in the lineup on Sunday, but three of them are already in the national rankings.
They'll need to live up to expectations, as next Sunday brings a huge Big Ten showdown with No. 3 Minnesota. The noon match will be shown live on the Big Ten Network.
Penn State's depth also was evidenced over the weekend, as six Nittany Lions captured individual titles at the East Stroudsburg Open. New Oxford's Jordan Conaway (125), Montoursville's Luke Frey (141) Central Mountain's Andrew Alton (149), Council Rock South's James Vollrath (157), Matt Brown (174) and Bald Eagle Area's Jon Gingrich (285) won championships.
___

No. 18 Pitt improved to 2-0 on the young season by beating Drexel 25-13 on Sunday. A day after knocking off No. 6 Lehigh a night earlier, the Panthers won seven of 10 matches in Philadelphia. Keystone Oaks graduate Anthony Zanetta (125), Meadville's Shelton Mack (133) and Pittsburgh Central Catholic's Andy Vaughn (184) picked up bonus points in the Pitt victory.
Here's the full recap.
In other Pitt news, former State College standout Erik Galloway won the East Stroudsburg Open while Tyrone graduate Ronnie Garbinsky finished second.
The Panthers' first home match of the season will be a big one, as No. 8 Michigan visits Fitzgerald Field House at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Johnstown-area wrestlers find success in college

Carolina seems to be on the mind of a number of Pennsylvania wrestling fans.
Johnstown-area wrestlers are making a big impact for both the University of North Carolina and Duke wrestling teams.
I've already documented Evan Henderson's strong start to the season in The Tribune-Democrat. The thing is, when I wrote that the former United wrestler and New Florence native couldn't have dreamed up a better start to his college career, I didn't realize how much better it would get. After earning a share of the ACC Wrestler of the Week award for his 5-0 start at the Hokie Open, Henderson was simply dominant in the Wrestle for a Cure Duals on Saturday in Harrisburg. The true freshman went 4-0 with four falls in the event.
How's that for a good day?
Henderson wasn't doing it against weak competition, either. The "worst" team that the Tar Heels took on was Boston University, which is ranked 36th by Intermat. Henderson pinned the Terriers' Peter Ishiguro in 35 seconds!
Against Nebraska, which is tied for 26th in the national rankings, Henderson needed to go to the second period (but only 23 seconds of it) to pin Jake Sueflohn.
I haven't been able to locate how long it took Henderson to pin of Tucker Armstrong of Illinois, but a pin is a pin, especially when it comes against a team that is tied for ninth in the rankings like the Illini.
But Henderson saved his best for last. He pinned Hunter Stieber of No. 11 Ohio State in just 1:31. Not only was Stieber, another true freshman, listed higher in the recruiting rankings, he is No. 15 in Intermat's ranking of 141-pounders. Henderson has now beaten the No. 15-ranked wrestler twice in a week. (The first was North Carolina State's Darius Little in the finals of the Hokie Open).
Henderson, who entered Saturday 18th at 141, seems destined to shoot up the rankings after his amazing start.
The same can't be said for his team, which went 0-4 in Harrisburg. Henderson's win over Stieber was the Tar Heels' only victory against the Buckeyes. They won just won one other match against Illinois, two others against Boston and three more against Nebraska.
North Carolina sure could use the skills that Westmont Hilltop graduate Zac Bennett provided last season, when he captured the ACC title and won a match at nationals. Unfortunately, the 197-pounder recently had surgery and probably won't return to the lineup until January.
Considering 149-pounder Joe Burns went 1-3 on Saturday, North Carolina likely could have used Robert Henderson, Evan's twin brother, as well. But Robert has had some medical issues of his own and is expected to redshirt this season.
Tar Heels coach C.D. Mock had made recruiting Pennsylvania a priority - which isn't a surprise considering he was a PIAA champion at Council Rock North - and having Keystone State legend Cary Kolat on his staff certainly doesn't hurt.
North Carolina was interested in Richland heavyweight John Rizzo, but the two-time PIAA champion has his heart set on playing college football. The Tar Heels were reportedly going to let Rizzo walk on to the football team if he agreed to wrestle for them.
But, as Joe Tuscano reported yesterday, North Carolina has now inked Canon-McMillan heavyweight Cody Klempay.
Rizzo, who is ranked as the nation's fifth-best heavyweight prospect, isn't expected to make a decision any time soon.
Another District 6 wrestler is quickly making an impact just down the road from Chapel Hill, in Durham, N.C. Like Henderson, Westmont Hilltop grad Tanner Hough won his first tournament as a college wrestler.Wrestling unattached, Hough was dominant in Charleston, S.C., last weekend. Oddly enough, he started his career against a familiar face - Claysburg-Kimmel graduate Cole Claar, who is wrestling for Georgia's Darton College. Hough beat Claar 13-3 in the first round, the first of his three major decisions on the day.
He added a pair of falls, including one over Belmont-Abbey's Eric Tozzi with a second left in their championship match.
Hough will be looking for a second consecutive tournament title today when the Blue Devils compete in the Wolfpack Open at North Carolina State, but he won't get an opportunity to wrestle Evan Henderson on Jan. 9 when Duke visits North Carolina, as he is redshirting this season.
He's far from the only Hilltopper in a college wrestling room. Josh Polacek, is a freshman 125-pounder at No. 9 Maryland who is injured, while Westmont grad Trevor Kushner is a still trying to recover from a serious knee injury at West Virginia. T.J. Keklak is a 157-pounder with No. 25 Kent State, and a sixth former Hilltopper, 165-pounder senior Mike Brant, is wrestling for Navy.
While there are no Johnstown-area wrestlers currently competing for Pitt or Penn State, both kick off their dual-meet season this weekend. No. 18 Pitt did it in style, beating No. 6 Lehigh on the road Saturday night. The two-time defending EWL champions built a 15-0 lead, then held on for the 18-16 victory at Grace Hall. You can watch the entire match here for $6.95.
The Panthers won't have long to enjoy the victory, as they visit Drexel at 1 this afternoon.
No. 2 Penn State will hit the mats an hour later. After an extremely difficult week in State College - which followed a problem-filled offseason for the defending NCAA champs - the Nittany Lions must be ready to do what they do best: Wrestle for coach Cael Sanderson. Bloomsburg, which lost 41-3 a year ago, will be a decided underdog. The most interesting match will be at 157 pounds, where PSU's No. 12 Dylan Alton is set to face No. 14 Frank Hickman. The Nittany Lions have eight wrestlers ranked in the top 20 according to Intermat. Derek Reber (133 pounds) and Sam Sherlock or Bryan Pearsall (141) will be the only Nittany Lions to hit the mat unranked.