LEHMAN TWP. ‚?? An argument can be made by several wrestlers that their weight class is the toughest at this weekend‚??s Wyoming Valley Conference Tournament.
A legitimate gripe can be made in only a few, though. One of those is the 145-pound bracket.
Top-seeded Kevin Laubach from Berwick ended the first day of the tournament with the most wins of anyone in the whole conference with a 19-0 record. The senior won a pair of bouts on Friday with a fall and a major decision. He now faces Dallas‚?? Steven Mingey in today‚??s semifinals, which begin at 9:30 a.m. at Lake-Lehman High School. Mingey also won twice with a fall and a decision. The finals are slated for 4 p.m.
In the semifinal in the bottom half of the brutal class sits Crestwood‚??s Matt Hammerstone and Wyoming Valley West‚??s Cody Cordes. Hammerstone, who has been close to qualifying for the PIAA Championships in the past has a 12-2 record, only had to win once on Friday. Cordes, a sophomore who is 17-2 so far this season, also had to win just once to advance.
Last year, Hammerstone won the event wrestling at 160 and appears to be in tip-top shape this time around as well.
‚??I started off good and tried not to barrel through anybody,‚?Ě said Laubach, who will wrestle for Division II Seton Hill next year and was runner-up in last year‚??s tournament. ‚??It‚??s going to be tough. We got Hammerstone and Cordes on the other side. Just have to take it match by match and worry about it when it comes.‚?Ě
Cordes is one of nine Spartans in today‚??s semifinals as Valley West is in the lead with 83.50 points, 11 ahead of second-place Pittston Area. Dallas (64.50), Coughlin (62) and Lake-Lehman (59) round out the top five in the team scores.
Cordes is joined by teammates James Wright (106), Alex Tirko (113), Jon Lagoski (120), Kyle Krasavage (126), Travis Roper (132), Nathan Cheek (138), Derrick Simms (152) and Matt Dubaskas (285) as the Spartans look to repeat as team champion.
‚??It was a good day. We wrestled well, but (today) is going to be the big day,‚?Ě Valley West coach Drew Feldman said. ‚??I feel confident. The guys who are medaling now are the guys who went to the Hurricane Classic and medaled down there and have the experience and are ready for here.‚?Ě
Another tough weight class is where Krasavage is slotted. The senior, who has committed to Division I Hofstra, will have to knock out Hazleton Area‚??s Larry Romanchik in today‚??s semifinal. Romanchik, a sophomore defending champion, picked up a pin and a tech fall on Friday. Krasavage won with a pair of pins during the first day‚??s action.
At the top half of the bracket sits No. 1 seed Andy Schutz from Wyoming Area. The senior won his only match of the day with a tech fall. He will face Meyers‚?? Kashif Alston, a two-time winner on the first day in the semis.
Schutz and Krasavage are both past state qualifiers and could make for a classic final if they both advance. Krasavage is one of four unbeatens remaining in the tournament with an 18-0 mark.
‚??It is a tough bracket. It‚??s nice to see the tournament is coming along and getting a lot of good wrestling,‚?Ě said Schutz, who hasn‚??t wrestled Krasavage since elementary school. ‚??I‚??m proud to be part of such a good bracket.‚?Ě
Two more past state qualifiers, Lake-Lehman‚??s Austin Harry (132) and Coughlin‚??s Brad Emerick (285), remained undefeated this season and moved their records to 12-0 and 10-0, respectively. Harry picked up two falls on the day, while Emerick needed just 46 seconds to earn his lone victory.