A total of 306 District 2 wrestlers begin fighting for their lives later today when the D2 Class 2A and 3A tournaments begin tonight at 5 at the 109th Field Artillery (Kingston Armory).
There will be plenty of action as eight mats are set up today and six for tomorrow’s finals and consolation finals, which are set to begin at approximately 3 p.m.
Everywhere you look there will be a storyline. Whether it’s Lake-Lehman’s Austin Harry trying to become a part of history in reaching the 150-win milestone while shooting for his fourth straight District 2 Class 2A title. Or Wyoming Valley West’s trio of 100-win wrestlers — Travis Roper, Nathan Cheek and Cody Cordes — each looking for their first D2 Class 3A gold.
The bottom line is there will be a plethora of wrestling in Luzerne County for the next two days and if it’s anything like the district’s duals event held at the armory earlier this month, there won’t be many disappointments.
A loaded weight
The most exciting weigh class to watch this weekend no matter the classification is 132 in 3A. That’s because there’s four legitimate state qualifiers here, including two from last season in Delaware Valley’s Jalen Palmer and Wyoming Valley West’s Travis Roper. Those two met earlier this season with Palmer pulling out a one-point victory, but was on his back as time expired in the third period.
And then there’s Wallenpaupack’s Chase Gallik — a two-time district runner-up, who upset Palmer last weekend in the Lackawanna League Tournament final — and Crestwood’s Dan Ritz, who was runner-up last season and finished one win away from wrestling in the state-qualifying match at regionals.
There’s also Tunkhannock’s Bill Manley — who has won 14 of his last 15 matches and has as many wins this season as Roper — and West Scranton’s Tyler Baress, who qualified for regionals last season. Don’t forget about Abington Heights’ Jackson Renninger and Coughlin’s Mike Brown, who both claimed district medals a year ago.
Call it grueling if you will, but this is what District 11 wrestlers face in every weight during that district event.
For all but one year in the last 12, District 2 has been the recipient of at least one state medal in the heavyweight (275 or 285) weight class. Most of those years, the medalist has come from Class 3A.
With the incumbent champion now in college, that leaves the competition for this season wide open — for now.
Dallas’ Ryan Monk and West Scranton’s Kamron VanWert appear to be on a collision course. Monk was runner-up last year and was third in 2012, while VanWert has finished fifth and third the last two seasons. Both juniors, they have met twice in their high school careers. Monk bested the Invader earlier this season and in last year’s district semis.
A fresh beginning
Hazleton Area’s Jimmy Hoffman is already receiving state recognition as a freshman. This weekend, seeded No. 1 at 120 pounds, Hoffman is trying to take those accolades to another level. It won’t be easy though as he will have some tough competition along the way, but he will be fun to watch.
His freshmen teammates Chris Lasecki (106 pounds), Jacob Maurer (113) and Anthony Martoccio (126) all are seeded favorably and have potential to contend.
Team title up for grabs
Lake-Lehman has won more District 2 team championships than any other team regardless of classification. The Black Knights are hoping to win No. 23 this weekend and their third straight. With four top seeds, they have a good chance.
However, Lehman lost to Western Wayne in the district duals finals earlier this month and several other teams could have multiple champions, which should make it a close race to the finish.
In addition to the Wildcats, Meyers, Wyoming Area and GAR could all crown more than one gold medalist. If that happens, depth and wrestlebacks come into play to decide the champion. Then it’s anybody’s guess who walks away as the team titlist.
Western Wayne last won in 2010, Meyers’ last team title was 2000, while Wyoming Area and GAR have never claimed a team trophy.
A fresh beginning
Like in Class 3A, the WVC is represented with a stellar freshman as a No. 1 seed in Class 2A with Meyers’ Colin Pasone, who is 33-3 at 106 pounds. Pasone, the younger brother of former state runner-up from the Mohawks Vito Pasone, isn’t the only talented ninth-grader in 2A, let alone the weight class.
Montrose’s Jacob O’Brien is seeded second at 106 with a mark of 25-2, while Hanover Area’s Jeffrey Bennett is 14-6 and is seeded third.
At 132, Wyoming Area’s Kendrick Beyer is also a ninth-grader with tons of upside and is seeded second. He would stand alone as the best freshman in 2A if he wins a district title, since he’s in the same bracket as Lake-Lehman’s Austin Harry.
Don’t sleep on …
The Lackawanna League may have been down this season in terms of duals teams in the classification with Western Wayne and Lackawanna Trail combining for just four of the possible 14 wins at district duals. Top that with the WVC pinning down 12 of the 14 top seeds for this tournament and it looks like a dominant tournament for the Luzerne County conference. While the LL squads might not have the quantity, they certainly possess quality.
Lackawanna Trail is the only Class 2A squad with a wrestler in every weight class; that goes a long way in a tournament like this. Blue Ridge has just eight entries, but returns five district medalists from last year, more than any team not named Western Wayne (six) or Lake-Lehman (also five).
Montrose has only six wrestlers entered, but four of them are seeded in the top three.