By KENN STAUB for D9and10Sports.com
With the start of every new wrestling season, one of the more interesting exercises is trying to project who could make an impact at the district level and possibly beyond. Using the PA Power Wrestling state and regional (Districts 9 and 10) preseason rankings as a guide, here is a look at who to keep an eye out for in 2021, remembering that there is a certain degree of imprecision as some wrestlers will be changing weight classes, may opt-out of the coming season, or not compete due to injury.
Five wrestlers will carry state and NW regional rankings into the start of the season: Commodore Perry sophomore Hunter Geibel, third in the state and first in the region; Hickory freshman Louie Gill, sixth in the state and second in the region; Titusville freshman Trenton Rodgers, 19th in the state and fourth in the region; Fort LeBoeuf freshman Jake Bennett, 21st in the state and fifth in the region; and Reynolds freshman Logan Hammerschmidt, 22nd in the state and sixth in the region. Geibel qualified for regionals at this weight class a year ago and posted a 24-14 record. Hammerschmidt took a 10-6 decision against the region’s number seven, Jared Popson of Brookville, in December.
Senior Luke Munsee (88-37 career) of Corry is ranked sixth in Pennsylvania and second in the NW Region. In 2019-2020 Munsee went 44-9 at 106 pounds, placing second in the district, third in the region, and eighth in the state. He also qualified for regionals at 106 pounds the year prior. Junior Hunter Robinson (41-10) will begin his first year in a Saegertown singlet as the state’s number nine and region’s number 3. Robinson wrestled at 106 pounds for General McLane as a freshman and sophomore. During his freshman season, he was a state qualifier and put together a 35-8 record. Last year he was 6-2. Reynold’s freshman Chase Bell is fourth-ranked regionally. In December he lost a 1-0 decision to Brookville’s Cayden Walter, ranked fourth in the state. Sophomore Kyle Lantz of Conneaut is coming off a freshman year that saw him go 26-12 and qualify for regionals at 106 pounds. He is ranked eighth in the NW Region.
This year will see the close of one of the more distinguished careers in the district as Gary Steen (136-7 career) will don a Reynolds singlet for the last time. Despite going 48-1 last season and winning the state title at 113 pounds, Steen enters his final year as a Raider ranked second in the state (though first in the region). Steen is a three-time district and regional champion, parlaying that into a state title at 106 pounds as a freshman and a third-place finish in Hershey to conclude his sophomore season. The University of Pittsburgh commit has never won less than 40 bouts in a season. He opened his senior season in December by pinning Antonio Thornton of Brookville in the first period. Corry junior Kayden Reyda (42-36) had a 24-21 record in 2019-2020 and made his first trip to regionals. He is ranked third in the region Hunter Gould, a Conneaut freshman will make his varsity debut as the fourth-ranked wrestler in the region.
Reynolds senior Liam Foore (18-16 career) is ranked 17th in Pennsylvania and second in the region. He was 17-13 last year at this weight and made his first trip to the regional tournament. Foore lost a major decision to the state’s fourth-ranked wrestler, Brookville’s Owen Reinsel, in December. Justin O’Neil (63-36 career), a Hickory senior, is ranked 25th in the state and fourth in the NW Region. He was 29-15 and qualified for regionals at 120 pounds a year ago. Another returning regional qualifier is Greenville senior Blayke Knauf, who went 30-15 last year as a 113-pounder. He is ranked fifth in the NW region, followed by Fort LeBoeuf freshman JoJo Przybyrcien in the sixth position.
It’s possible there could be three returning state qualifiers in the weight class; Greenville senior Chase McLaughlin (98-23 career), Reynolds junior Kane Kettering (38-12 career), and Hickory sophomore Connor Saylor. McLaughlin wrestled the previous three seasons as a Jamestown Muskie, qualifying for states as a freshman at 106 pounds and as a junior at 120 pounds. Currently ranked seventh in Pennsylvania and first, in the NW Region, McLaughlin was 41-7 a year ago. Kettering, wrestling at 106 pounds in 2019-2020, was 31-9 and finished first at districts and second at regionals. Presently 13th in the state poll and second in the region, he scored a major decision against Brecken Cieleski of Brookville in December. Saylor was the district runner-up at 113 pounds as a freshman, wrestling his way to a 33-11 mark. The Hornet grappler is 15th in the state and third in the region. Two others will begin the season with state and regional rankings. Coming in at 16th in Pennsylvania and fourth regionally is Cambridge Springs’s Gunnar Gage. A sophomore, Gage went 41-12 during his freshman campaign and qualified for regionals at 113 pounds. Commodore Perry senior Zane Grinnell (63-33 career) is ranked 25th in the state and seventh in the NW Region. He was a regional qualifier at 126 as a junior, going 25-13 along the way. Also regionally ranked is Colin Hearn of Conneaut. The sophomore went 28-11 at this weight a year ago. Freshman Jackson Bowers is on target to make his debut as a member of the Fort LeBoeuf squad.
Two-time state placer Conner Pierce (79-12 career) of Lakewood will start the season ranked seventh in Pennsylvania and first in the NW Region. The junior finished last season with a 43-4 record as a 126-pounder, a campaign in which he finished first at districts and regionals and seventh at the state tournament. He also placed seventh at states as a 113 pounder to conclude his freshman year. Cochranton junior Jack Martinec (60-16 career) is a two-time regional qualifier. He finished his sophomore season with a 35-10 record at 120 pounds. Martinec is ranked 21st in the state and third in the region. Ranked 25th in the state poll, senior Carson Filer (89-46 career) has qualified for the regional tournament three times, doing so last year as a 126-pounder. Filer, ranked fifth in the region, had a record of 35-14 as a junior. Drew Johnson of Iroquois and Collin Clough (52-48 career) of Youngsville are ranked sixth and seventh in the NW, respectively. Johnson, a senior, got his first taste of varsity completion a year ago, putting together a record of 22-11 as he descended from 132 to 126 pounds. Clough qualified for regionals in 2019-2020 at 138 pounds, wrestling his way to a 22-19 mark. Six other regional qualifiers from last season could be competing in this weight class; Greenville junior Riley Kneeland (54-37 career), Northwestern junior Alex Cottrell (45-30 career), Reynoldsville junior Camren Klenke (7-12 career), Hickory junior Cody Miller (46-13 career), Corry junior Damion Kinney (46-39), and Girard sophomore Lance Cardman. Of these wrestlers, four had at least 20 wins in 2019-2020: Kneeland, who started the season at 126 pounds and finished at 120, 31-17; Cottrell, who went from 126 pounds to 113, 25-16; Miller, who also qualified for regionals at 106 pounds as a freshman, 22-18 at 120 pounds; and Kinney 29-21 at 120 pounds. Cardman just missed the 20-win mark, going 19-20 in a year that saw him descend from 126 to 113 pounds. Klenke, 7-12 last year as a 145 pounder, was pinned by Brookville’s Josh Popson in December. Freshman Nate Stearns is expected to be in the varsity lineup for Titusville.
Willis Morrell (39-36 career), a Cochranton junior, is ranked 24th in the state and second in the NW. He was 26-20 last season and qualified for regionals at 132 pounds. The region’s number four, senior Easton Headman (69-37 career) of Eisenhower, and five, senior Brady Gould (66-39 career) of Conneaut, will both be looking for at least a first trip to regionals to cap off their high school tenures. Headman was 27-10 last year at 132 pounds and Gould 25-11 at 138 pounds. Two others ranked in the NW region are going to be looking to return to the regional tournament after missing out last season. Grove City senior Logan Breese (62-39 career), a regional qualifier at 138 pounds as a sophomore, was 24-14 a year ago and Hickory senior Connor Haddon, who didn’t wrestle last year, went 31-14 during a sophomore season in which he qualified for regionals at 126 pounds. Breese is ranked sixth in the NW Region and Haddon, who will be donning a Hickory singlet this year as the result of West Middlesex’s co-op agreement, is seventh. Fort LeBoeuf freshman Conner McChesney could be in the Bisons’ starting line-up at 145 pounds when the season starts.
Ranked fifth in the state and first in the region, Cambridge Springs’s Ayden Miller (97-34 career) is a three-time regional qualifier and a returning state qualifier. The senior made the trip to Hershey at 138 pounds in 2019-2020 after placing third at both districts and regionals. He put together a junior-year record of 38-9. Alex Ischo (49-29), a Reynolds senior, is 13th in the state poll and third regionally. Isch qualified for regionals last year at 138 pounds after starting the season in the 145-pound class. He went 31-11. The fifth through eighth regionally ranked wrestlers are, respectively: senior Eli Buck (38-33 career) of Sharon, junior Michael Berger (40-27 career) of Mercer, sophomore Luke Gentile of Greenville, and junior Alex Hummel (18-15 career) of Eisenhower. Buck and Berger both qualified for regionals last season; Buck was 23-17 at 132 pounds and Berger was 19-18, at 138 pounds. Berger was also a regional qualifier as a freshman at 126 pounds. Gentile went 23-14 last year at 138 pounds and Hummel, seeing his first significant varsity time a year ago, was 17-15 as he ascended from 138 to 152 pounds. Lakeview’s Trevn Schaffer (20-32 career), a junior, was 17-13 as he went from 152 to 145 pounds last season.
Three of the top five ranked wrestlers in the state call the district home; Gage Musser (102-22 career) of Commodore Perry, who occupies the second spot in the poll, Kaeden Berger (95-33 career) of Reynoldsville, who is fourth, and Carter Gill (71-20 career) of Hickory at fifth. Musser, a senior, first qualified for states as a 152-pound sophomore. Last year, wrestling at this weight, he placed fourth at states after winning district and regionals. Currently ranked first in the NW Region, Musser had a junior-year record of 36-4. Berger, another senior, is a three-time state qualifier, placing seventh at 132 pounds as a sophomore and fifth at that weight last season as a junior. The Clarion University commit compiled a record of 42-9 a year ago and is presently ranked second regionally. Berger took a major decision in December against the region’s seventh-ranked grappler, Brookville’s Wyatt Griffin. Gill, a junior, is another state placer, earning the sixth step on the 132-pound podium to cap off last season, during which he compiled a 38-10 record. Ranked third regionally, Gill also qualified for regionals as a freshman. Two additional grapplers, both seniors, carry state rankings into the season; Fort LeBoeuf’s Jack Rimpa (61-30 career) is 16th and Saegertown’s Jaeden Reagle (69-37 career) 24th. Rimpa qualified for states last year at 152 pounds and put together a 33-14 record. Ranked fifth in the NW, he also qualified for regionals as a sophomore. A three-time regional qualifier, Reagle will be looking to cap off his final high school season with a trip to the state tournament. The sixth-ranked grappler in the NW Region, he was 30-13 last year when he descended from 138 to 132 pounds. One other wrestler carries a regional ranking, Mercer senior Aiden Bright (69-43) at eighth. Bright qualified for regionals last year at 160 pounds and sported a 25-15 record. Another two-time regional qualifier could find his home at this weight, junior Gannon Jaquay (52-33) of Eisenhower. As a sophomore, he went 30-15 and qualified for regionals at 138 pounds. A couple of sophomores have garnered attention, Titusville’s Brock Covell, 17-17 last season at 138 pounds, and Seneca’s Ryan Miller, 19-10 a year ago at 145 pounds. Freshman Danick Hickson of Lakeview could also find himself in the 160-pound mix.
Fort LeBoeuf junior Tim Church (58-39 career) is ranked 21st in the state and second in the NW Region. He compiled a 28-17 record last year and qualified for regionals at 182 pounds. Other regionally ranked wrestlers are senior Colton Smith (66-37 career) of Cambridge Springs at fourth, senior Mason Hesselgesser (62-37 career) of Mercer at fifth, senior Jordan DeCarmen (22-21) of Reynolds at sixth, and junior Clayton Smith (50-27 career) of Commodore Perry at eighth. Colton Smith, Hesselgesser, and Clayton Smith qualified for regionals last year; Colton Smith was 29-15 and qualified as a 160-pounder, Hesselgesser was 20-12 and qualified as a 170-pounder, and Clayton Smith was 28-13 and qualified as a 145- pounder. DeCarmen wrestled at 160 pounds a year ago and tallied a 15-8 mark. In December DeCarmen fell to the third-ranked wrestler in the region, Brookville’s Jackson Zimmerman. Seniors Josh Anderson (35-26 career) and Nick Kaday (51-35 career) had over 20 wins during the 2019-2020 season. Conneaut’s Anderson put together a 28-15 record and qualified for regionals at 160 pounds. Union City’s Kaday, wrestling at 170 pounds, was 27-21.
Senior Cole Toy (89-40 career) of Reynolds and junior Landon Caldwell (54-27 career) of Saegertown are both state-ranked, Toy fourth and Caldwell 23rd. Toy is a three-time regional qualifier and two-time state qualifier. Both of Toy’s state appearances, his first coming as a sophomore and second as junior, came at 170 pounds. He capped off his junior season, during which he went 31-8 and finished first at districts and third at regionals, with a seventh at states. In December, Toy ranked second in the region, started his senior season by pinning Caden Marshall of Brookville in the first period. Caldwell qualified for regionals during both of his varsity seasons, at 152 pounds as a freshman and 160 pounds last year. During his sophomore year, Caldwell ranked fourth in the region, was 37-10. A host of other wrestlers, all of whom previously qualified for regionals, received a ranking in the NW Region poll; Girard sophomore Abraham Keep is fifth, Cochranton junior Stetson Boozer (48-33 career) is sixth, Corry senior Dylan Gourley (58-42 career) is seventh, and Cambridge Springs senior Eli Mosconi (63-42 career) is eighth. Keep was 29-15 as a freshman and qualified for regionals at 160 pounds, Boozer was 33-18 as a junior and qualified for regionals at 152 pounds, Gourley was 31-15 as a junior and qualified for regionals at 160 pounds (he was also a regional qualifier at 182 pounds as a sophomore), and Mosconi was 33-11 as a junior and qualified for regionals at 170 pounds. Two other grapplers also qualified for regionals a year ago, sophomore Dan Church of Fort LeBoeuf and senior Nik Dignall of Sharon. Church qualified for regionals at 170 pounds and went 19-17, while Dignall qualified at 145 pounds after starting the season at 160 pounds and compiled a 21-19 record. Another former regional qualifier who could be in the mix is Commodore Perry’s Jonny Rodgers (33-29 career). Rodgers qualified for regionals at 145 pounds as a sophomore but went 2-4 at 170 pounds during his junior year. Slippery Rocks Tony Pillosi (26-5 career), a junior, was 11-0 last season wrestling at 220, 195, and 182 pounds. Kaleb Brunst could debut as a freshman for Titusville.
This is the fourth weight class where the district will start with five wrestlers having garnered statewide rankings, all in the top 20; Eisenhower junior Cael Black at second (ranked first regionally), Conneaut senior Trevor Tursky at fifth (ranked third regionally), Corry junior Hayden Linkerhof at ninth (ranked fourth regionally), Greenville junior Cole Karpinski at 14th (ranked second regionally), and Lakeview senior Isaac DeVault at 16th (ranked fifth regionally). Black (71-20 career) is a two-time state qualifier, making the trip to Hershey at 195 pounds as a freshman and placing sixth at 220 pounds to conclude a sophomore year in which he went 37-10. Tursky (83-36 career) qualified for states last year as a sophomore at 195 pounds and posted a 35-10 record. Linkerhof (73-16 career) was a regional qualifier in his first two seasons, doing so both times at 195 pounds. Last year as a junior he wrestled his way to a 40-7 mark. Karpinski (66-23 career) is a two-time regional qualifier and returning state qualifier. Last season as a 170-pound junior he compiled a 38-8 record. DeVault’s junior year was the first in which he saw varsity mat time, capitalizing on it by going 36-14 and earning a trip to regionals at 220 pounds. There are two other wrestlers with regional experience, Jackson Carico (44-36 career) of Cambridge Springs and Josh Perrine of Saegertown. Carico, a senior, was 27-16 last year and qualified for regionals at 182 pounds. Perrine, a junior, saw his first significant varsity action as a sophomore, posting a 14-23 record and qualifying for regionals as a 195-pounder. Maplewood junior Dylan Reed (career 12-10) was 8-8 wrestling primarily at 195 pounds a year ago, while Titusville senior Sebastian Titus (40-43 career) was 10-10, also as a 195-pounder.
There are three returning state qualifiers who have been awarded statewide preseason rankings at heavyweight; Joey King (86-28 career) of Maplewood third, Jordan Schell (86-29 record) of Girard fourth, and Guy Rocco John-Daniello (44-18 career) of Reynolds 13th. King, a senior, is a two-time state qualifier, making the trip as a sophomore and junior at 220 pounds. Last year, King, ranked second in the NW Region, went 33-7 and won districts, was runner-up at regionals and was eighth at states. Schell, a senior, qualified for regionals each of the last two seasons at 285-pounds and for states last year. As a junior, Schell ranked third regionally, took first and districts and second at regionals before heading off to Hershey. Also a senior, John-Daniello saw his first significant time in the Raiders’ varsity lineup last year. The 285-pounder parlayed that into a 38-11 record, taking third at districts and regionals to advance to states. In December, John-Daniello, who is also ranked fourth in the region, was pinned by Brookville’s Nathan Taylor, the state’s number two heavyweight. Another regionally ranked wrestler is Corry’s Xavier Reyda (45-36 career), coming in at eighth. The junior went 33-16 at this weight and qualified for regionals. Three others have also qualified for regionals. Sophomore Isaiah Gilchrist of Conneaut qualified for regionals in this weight class during his first varsity season. He went 9-8. Cambridge Springs senior Jacob Jones (52-51 career) was a regional qualifier at 170 pounds as a sophomore. Last year he wrestled at 195 pounds, going 24-14. Like Jones, Greenville senior Zack Nesevich (60-50 career) qualified for regionals as a sophomore at 220 pounds. In 2019-2020 he finished with a record of 31-16 during his descent from 285 to 220 pounds. This will be Nesevich’s first season wrestling for Greenville after spending the previous three competing under the Jamestown banner. Senior Jesse Phelps (32-23 career) of North East was 12-7 at this weight a year ago.
(all records from PA-Wrestling.com)