The nine Wyoming Valley Conference state-qualifying wrestlers learned their first round matchups on Sunday when the PIAA released the brackets for the PIAA Championships, which will be held Thursday through Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey.
Five WVC grapplers in Class 2A qualified and four in Class 3A will participate in Chocolatetown.
Dallas' Dominick DeGraba (106 pounds) will be the first wrestler in the whole state to step on the mat Thursday morning when the Class 2A event kicks off at 9 a.m. The Mountaineer junior, who is 42-8 this season coming off a Northeast Regional championship, will wrestle in the event's bout No. 1 against Wilson junior Jaryd Flank (37-4), the fifth seed out of the Southeast Regional. DeGraba has the second most wins in his bracket to Boiling Spring freshman Korbin Myers (44-3).
A few minutes later, Meyers' Vito Pasone will begin his third state tournament also off a regional title at 113. The senior 113-pounder with a record of 33-4 will take on Bishop McDevitt sophomore Terrence White (34-9) in his first match. Like Flank, White is the fifth seed from the Southeast Regional.
Two weights after Pasone, the third 2A regional champion, Lake-Lehman's Austin Harry (126 pounds) will begin his second state tournament. The sophomore entering with a mark of 37-1 will go up against Richie Cerebe (35-2) from Philadelphia-Mont Christian Academy; he's also No. 5 out of the Southeast region.
At the following weight, 132, Andy Schutz, a Wyoming Area junior, makes his first state appearance going against Southern Huntingdon's Brennon Shields. Schutz, who is 30-3 and took third at regionals, will face the junior, who is 35-8 and the No. 2 seed out of the Southwest Regional.
The final 2A participant is Pasone's teammate Darren Stucker at 145. A senior with a record of 24-5, the Mohawk is set to see Fort LeBoeuf senior Kody Pace (44-8). Stucker is a regional third-place finisher and will go against Pace, who took second at the Northwest Regional.
In Class 3A, Crestwood's Kyle Hankinson (145), Hazleton Area's Chad Hoffman (195), Pittston Area's Chris Wesolowski (285) and Coughlin's Brad Emerick (285) will participate. Hoffman is the only two-time state qualifier in 3A.
Emerick (39-0), a junior and the lone regional champ from the WVC in 3A, will get his quest started against McDowell sophomore Scot Augustine (34-7). The sophomore took third at the Northwest Regional. Also at 285, regional runner-up Wesolowski (21-12) will see a sophomore from Kiski Area, Shane Kuhn (34-3) in the first round. Kuhn is the No. 2 seed from the Southwest Region.
Hankinson was also a runner-up like Wesolowski. The Comet, who enters with a 27-3 record, starts his tournament with a match against Canon-McMillan senior Dario Dobbin (36-9), who is the Southwest Regional's No. 2 seed.
Hoffman, who placed eighth last year and is the No. 3 seed from the region, will start against Council Rock South's P.J. Steinmetz. The Cougar senior who has a mark of 34-4, will see the junior with a record of 39-3 and is the Southeast Regional champion.
Here are the first-round matchups for the nine WVC participants in this weekend's PIAA Championships at Giant Center in Hershey:
106 – Dallas' Dominick DeGraba (42-8) vs. Jaryd Flank (37-4), Wilson Area
113 – Meyers' Vito Pasone (33-4) vs. Terrence White (34-9), Bishop McDevitt
126 – Lake-Lehman's Austin Harry (37-1) vs. Richie Cerebe (35-2), Philadelphia-Mont Christian
132 – Wyoming Area's Andy Schutz (30-3) vs. Brennon Shields (35-8), South Huntingdon
145 – Meyers' Darren Stucker (24-5) vs. Kody Pace (44-8), Fort LeBoeuf
145 – Crestwood's Kyle Hankinson (27-3) vs. Dario Dobbin (36-9), Canon-McMillan
195 – Hazleton Area's Chad Hoffman (34-4) vs. P.J. Steinmetz (39-3), Council Rock South
285 – Pittston Area's Chris Wesolowski (21-12) vs. Shane Kuhn (34-4), Kiski Area
285 – Coughlin's Brad Emerick (39-0) vs. Scot Augustine (34-7), McDowell