WVC TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
Here’s a few predictions, along with the full list of returning champions and runners-up:
Returning champs: David Krokowski, Wyoming Valley West (2), J.J. White, Wyoming Valley West; Tommy Traver, Tunkhannock; Steven Newell, Dallas; J.J. Hooper, Hanover Area; Shane O’Rourke, Crestwood
Returning runners-up: David Gavek (2), Sam Rice, (2), and David Evans, Tunkhannock; Bob Long and Kaleb Konigus, Lake-Lehman; D.J. Erickson, Hanover Area; Ron Grevera and Saige George, Crestwood; Jake Brown and Jake Cole, Coughlin; Shawn Henniger, Dallas.
2017 winner: Hazleton Area
Top 6 prediction: 1. Coughlin; 2. Tunkhannock; 3. Lake-Lehman; 4. Crestwood; 5. Dallas; 6. Hazleton Area
Dark horse: Hanover Area/Wyoming Valley West
The skinny: The top three predictions can be moved around to any position in what is expected to be a close team race among not only the top three, but perhaps a half a dozen squads. The Tigers are coming off a title at their home event, which included one champion and three second-place finishers. Lake-Lehman is gearing up for what could be a long, sustained run for years to come; the team needs a little more time to get rolling, but a team title for the first time at this event is certainly within reach. The Crusaders are getting healthy at the right time, and a healthy Coughlin team is a scary squad with tons of potential.
2017 winner: J.J. White, Wyoming Valley West
Top seed: David Evans, Tunkhannock
Top 4 prediction: 1. Evans; 2. Cadden Kucek, Wyoming Valley West; 3. Nino Cinti, Coughlin; 4. Cael Davis, Hanover Area
Dark horse: Brandon Lopez, Pittston Area
The skinny: Lopez entered this tournament last year as the top seed in the same bracket, but didn’t reach the finals. Now a senior, he certainly has the experience to pull off upsets in a much tougher bracket this year. Evans is ranked 11th in the state by PA Power Wrestling, while Kucek is No. 20 in the weight. This could be a fantastic final.
2017 winner: Jake Maurer, Hazleton Area
Top seed: J.J. White, Wyoming Valley West
Top 4 prediction: 1. White; 2. Beck Hutchison, Hazleton Area; 3. Matt Rosentel, Tunkhannock; 4. Tino Morrow, Coughlin
Dark horse: Trey Zabroski, Crestwood
The skinny: Not seen in the predictions is Joe Rowley from Hanover Area. He’s the No. 2 seed, but would likely meet Hutchison, a freshman, in the quarters. With the new rules due to the consolidated schedule, semifinalists are guaranteed a top four finish. Lake-Lehman’s Brendon Boston is also unlucky due to the rules; he will meet White, ranked ninth in the state, in the preliminary round.
2017 winner: David Krokowski, Wyoming Valley West
Top seed: Nick Yule, Berwick
Top 4 prediction: 1. Yule; 2. Darren Clarke, Coughlin; 3. David Gavek, Tunkhannock; 4. Justin Sterling, Crestwood
Dark horse: Zach Stuart, Lake-Lehman
The skinny: A semifinal between Clarke and Gavek is one of a few important bouts between Coughlin and Tunkhannock, that could help decide the team championship. Yule is recognized in the state being ranked No. 21 at 113 by PA Power Wrestling.
2017 winner: Colin Pasone, Meyers
Top seed: Bob Long, Lake-Lehman
Top 4 prediction: 1. David Krokowski, Wyoming Valley West; 2. Long; 3. Jordan Miale, Crestwood; 4. Patrick Clarke, Coughlin
Dark horse: Clarke
The skinny: One of the more competitive brackets in the event, Krokowski is aiming for history trying to become just the fifth wrestler in the history of the tournament to win three times. Long, a returning state qualifier, stands in the way. Long is ranked 18th in the state in 2A at 126, while Krokowski is not mentioned in the Class 3A rankings, but he always seems to step up when it counts most. Long and Krokowski have combined for three district champions. Clarke, a senior, took third at districts as a freshman, while Miale was district runner-up last year.
2017 winner: Tommy Traver, Tunkhannock
Top seed: Jake Brown, Coughlin
Top 4 prediction: 1. Brown; 2. Charles Everdale, Hazleton Area; 3. Gavin D’Amato, Tunkhannock; 4. Garrett Kolb, Lake-Lehman
Dark horse: Ryan Lombardo, Pittston Area
The skinny: Perhaps the toughest weight in the tournament with six wrestlers all finishing in the top five at districts last season. D’Amato (first), Brown (second), Everdale (second), Kolb (second in 2015), Lombardo (fourth) and Crestwood’s Garrett Swank (third) all medalled at districts. It wouldn’t be a shock at all to see any of these six finish anywhere in the top six.
2017 winner: Jimmy Hoffman, Hazleton Area
Top seed: Tommy Traver, Tunkhannock
Top 4 prediction: 1. Traver; 2. Josh Brown, Coughlin; 3. Hunter Burke, Lake-Lehman; 4. Stephen Martisofski, Hazleton Area
Dark horse: Chris Maute, Nanticoke
The skinny: Traver is the top-ranked WVC wrestler in the state being sixth at 138 in Class 3A according to PA Power Wrestling. Brown is ranked 20th in the same category. Burke has potential to pull off an upset of Brown in the semis, but it’s going to be a tough task.
2017 winner: Bob Lipski, Lake-Lehman
Top seed: D.J. Erickson, Hanover Area
Top 4 prediction: 1. Erickson; 2. Kade Kravits, Dallas; 3. Landon Stanislow, Wyoming Valley West; 4. Jake Trumbower, Lake-Lehman
Dark horse: Charlie Banashefski, Wyoming Area
The skinny: Erickson is a returning state qualifier and is currently ranked 13th in the state in the weight. Stanislow is the No. 2 seed in the bracket, but he’s going to be tested by Kravits in the semis.
2017 winner: Alec Sampson, Dallas
Top seed: Tashawn Qualls, Coughlin
Top 4 prediction: 1. Alec Talanca, Berwick; 2. Qualls; 3. Nick Solinski, Dallas; 4. Collin Kudurko-Kashatus, Nanticoke
Dark horse: Alex Pierce, Wyoming Area
The skinny: Talanca placed third in the D2-2A Tournament last year, and he’s only wrestled in three bouts this season. But he’s the only one in the bracket that has a district medal on his resume.
2017 winner: Steven Newell, Dallas
Top seed: Ron Grevera, Crestwood
Top 4 prediction: 1. Grevera; 2. Jayson Brielmeier, Hazleton Area; 3. Nick Zaboski, Lake-Lehman; 4. Austin Dewald, Berwick
Dark horse: Zaboski
The skinny: Grevera, a returning district runner-up, shouldn’t have much problems in a bracket that appears to be filled with upsets with Brielmeier the No. 7 seed, Dewald seeded fourth and Zaboski sixth. Dallas’ John Betzko is the No. 2 seed, while Nanticoke’s Adam Eckhart is third.
2017 winner: Xavier Barber, Dallas
Top seed: Steven Newell, Dallas
Top 4 prediction: 1. Newell; 2. Corey Mruk, Wyoming Area; 3. Jake Marnell, Hazleton Area; 4. Colin Browne, Meyers
Dark horse: Mike Lenahan, Hanover Area
The skinny: Newell (Class 3A) and Mruk (2A) have similar resumes. Both were district titlists last season and then took sixth in their regional tournament. Browne, a senior, has finishes of sixth, fourth and third at districts.
2017 winner: J.J. Hooper, Hanover Area
Top seed: Connor Munley, Tunkhannock
Top 4 prediction: 1. Jake Cole, Coughlin; 2. Munley; 3. Ryan Black, Crestwood; 4. J.J. Snyder, Berwick
Dark horse: Sean Mikovitch, Wyoming Valley West
The skinny: Cole and Munley have similar paths with both being hampered with injuries throughout their careers. The difference is experience for Cole as he was runner-up at this event last year. Cole, the third seed, has just a 1-0 record this season, but it’s over Black, the No. 2 seed, in a dual last month.
2017 winner: Carson Kinney, Hazleton Area
Top seed: Sam Rice, Tunkhannock
Top 4 prediction: 1. Rice; 2. Shane Noonan, Hazleton Area; 3. J.J. Hooper, Hanover Area; 4. Justin Joseph, Wyoming Area
Dark horse: T.J. Meehan, Lake-Lehman
The skinny: Another stacked weight consisting of Noonan, a district champ and regional fifth-place medalist last year; Hooper and Joseph who were both district runners-up last year, Rice, who is a two-time district runner-up and two-time conference tournament second-place finisher; and Meehan who was fourth at district last year.
2017 winner: Shane O’Rourke, Crestwood
Top seed: Shane O’Rourke, Crestwood
Top 4 prediction: 1. O’Rourke; 2. Nathan Lombardo, Pittston Area; 3. Tom Mercadante, Hanover Area; 4. Jake Stephens, Tunkhannock
Dark horse: Lombardo
The skinny: O’Rourke is looking for his second straight title in the same weight. Lombardo is the No. 6 seed here and could see second-seeded Mercadante in the semis. O’Rourke and Lombardo each have a sixth-place finish at districts in Class 3A. Lombardo the last two years, while O’Rourke was sixth in 2016.
2017 winner: Nick Hannon, Hanover Area
Top seed: Damon Barhight, Wyoming Area
Top 4 prediction: 1. Shawn Henniger, Dallas; 2. Barhight; 3. Kaleb Konigus, Lake-Lehman; 4. Corey Harrison, Coughlin
Dark horse: Michael Fuchick, Hazleton Area
The skinny: Henniger and Konigus were both runners-up at this tournament last year, while Barhight has a second-place finish at districts under his belt. Harrison and Henniger were both third in the District 2 Class 3A Tournament last year. This is one of those very competitive brackets that could play out numerous ways due to close matches.
The high school wrestling season technically began a month ago, and all 13 Wyoming Valley Conference teams have been traveling all over the state to participate in individual or dual tournaments.
Since only a handful of divisional duals have been held so far, the local teams all know the season doesn’t kick into high gear until the WVC Tournament is held, and a three-week sprint to the District Duals Championships follows.
After being pushed back a few days due to inclement weather, the WVC Tournament finally gets underway on Sunday at Lake-Lehman High School as a one-day event rather than two days as in previous years. Wrestling will start at 9:30 a.m. with the preliminary round followed by consolations and the quarterfinals at 10:30. Semifinals are set to follow at noon, and the finals are slated for approximately 3 p.m.
Three teams – Coughlin, Tunkhannock and Lake-Lehman – enter a wrestler at all 14 weights, while all 13 teams will have at least 10 participants.
Meanwhile, only two weights will be filled to capacity, 106 and 138, but the lightest weight is normally one that struggles to find athletes.
The extra tough ones
While every weight will have its own unique challenges, a few brackets are extraordinarily tough. The lineups at 126 pounds, 132 and 195 offer some of the best competition that will be seen in the WVC all season.
At 126, Wyoming Valley West junior David Krokowski is aiming for history trying to become just the fifth wrestler in the history of the tournament to win three times. Lake-Lehman’s Bob Long is a returning state qualifier and is the top seed. The two have combined for three district championships. Meanwhile Coughlin’s Patrick Clarke, a senior, took third at districts as a freshman, and Crestwood’s Jordan Miale was district runner-up last year.
The 132-pound bracket features six wrestlers who have finished fourth or higher at districts in the past. Tunkhannock’s Gavin D’Amato (first), Coughlin’s Jake Brown (second), Hazleton Area’s Charles Everdale (second), Lake-Lehman’s Garrett Kolb (second in 2015), Crestwood’s Garrett Swank (third) and Pittston Area’s Ryan Lombardo (fourth) are all seeded in this weight.
Then there’s 195, where returning conference champion J.J. Hooper from Hanover Area is seeded third. That’s right, third. Hazleton Area’s Shane Noonan, a district champ and regional fifth-place medalist, is seeded second and Tunkhannock’s Sam Rice, a two-time district and conference runner-up is the top seed. Hooper and Wyoming Area’s Justin Joseph were also district runners-up last year, while Lake-Lehman’s T.J. Meehan was fourth at district in 2017.
Hanover Area’s J.J. Hooper returns as the tournament’s defending 195-pound champion. Hooper is seeded third on Sunday while Hazleton Area’s Shane Noonan, a district champ and regional fifth-place medalist, is seeded second and Tunkhannock’s Sam Rice, a two-time district and conference runner-up is the top seed.