Here's a look at the nine Wyoming Valley Conference wrestlers competing in the PIAA Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey today through Saturday with their profile of accomplishments and a size-up of their respective brackets:
Dominic DeGraba, Dallas (106) – Grade: 11 Record: 42-8; First bout: Wilson Area junior Jaryd Flank (37-4), who is the No. 5 seed from the Southeast Regional.
Notes: A two-time regional qualifier, DeGraba claimed his first district title two weeks ago and claimed his first regional title last weekend to qualify for the PIAA Championships for the first time. His 42 wins are the most of any WVC wrestler this season. In his first two varsity seasons, he has 80 wins.
School Notes: He is the first Mountaineer to qualify for the state tournament since John McCue advanced at 215 in 2006. A state title for DeGraba would be the first in wrestling in Dallas' school history. A medal would be Dallas' first since Matt Gingo placed seventh in 1999.
Sizing up the bracket: The defending state champion, Jason Nolf from Kittanning is now wrestling at 113. The two top-ranked grapplers according to Premier PA Rankings, Darian Cruz (39-2) from Bethlehem Catholic and Justin Patrick (35-1) from Ligonier Valley are on the opposite side of DeGraba.
A first-round win for DeGraba would likely set up a quarterfinal bout against the third-ranked wrestler in the state in Boiling Springs freshman Korbin Myers (44-3).
Vito Pasone, Meyers (113) – Grade: 12 Record: 33-4; First bout: Bishop McDevitt sophomore Terrence White (34-9), who is the No. 5 seed from the Southeast Region.
Notes: A four-time regional qualifier, Pasone is now a three-time state qualifier and will be trying to improve on last year's seventh-place showing. He's coming off his first regional championship, which followed a runner-up finish in 2011 and a third-place showing in 2009.
School Notes: Pasone is a four-time District 2 champion and holds the Meyers record for most career wins with 142. A state title would add to the Mohawks' District 2 record of 13 and would be the first for the Mohawks since Joe Rovelli in 2004.
Sizing up the bracket: Pasone is ranked third in the state according to Premier PA Rankings. The first two ranked according to the publication – Kittanning's Jason Nolf (39-0) and Trinity's Ryan Diehl (37-0) – are on the opposite side of Pasone. With a win over White, Pasone may see Ligonier Valley junior Joshua Patrick in the quarters. The Mohawk defeated Patrick 7-4 in last year's first round. But Patrick has to get past Boiling Springs' Joseph Byers, who was second in the state at 103 last year. Diehl won a state title last year in West Virginia, while Nolf won a gold at 103 last year.
Austin Harry, Lake-Lehman (126) – Grade: 10 Record: 37-1; First bout: Philadelphia-Mont Christian sophomore Richie Cerebe (35-2), the No. 5 seed from the Southeast Region.
Notes: Harry, now a two-time state qualifier, is coming off his first Northeast Regional championship and his second straight district title. He enters this weekend with a 73-9 career record.
School Notes: Harry is trying to be the first sophomore from Lake-Lehman to win a state medal since Matt Dragon took fifth at 130 in 2003. He became the first regional champ for the Black Knights since Dragon and Andy Josuweit both won gold in 2005. A state championship would be the fifth all-time for Lehman and the first since Scott Davis won in 2007. The last state medal for Lehman was Shane Stark's third-place in 2010.
Sizing up the bracket: Three-time defending state champion Jimmy Gulibon (22-1) from Derry Area is on the opposite side of Harry, so the two could only meet in the finals. In Harry's half of the bracket, the only two state placewinners from last year are Schuylkill Valley's Arty Walsh (36-3) and Central Cambria's Ben Rager (35-2), who both took fifth, but are facing off in the preliminaries. Gulibon is ranked first in the state according to Premier PA Rankings, while Walsh is second, Rager fourth and Hanover's Ian Brown (35-2) third, who will have to go through Gulibon to reach the finals.
Andy Schutz, Wyoming Area (132) – Grade: 11 Record: 30-3; First bout: South Huntingdon junior Brennan Shields (35-8), the No. 2 seed out of the Southwest Regional.
Notes: Schutz is making his first state appearance after a third-place showing at last weekend's regional tournament. Last month, he wrapped up his school-record third district championship and currently has 96 career wins. In 2010, Schutz placed fourth in the region.
School Notes: Wyoming Area has never crowned a state champion in wrestling. The Warriors only have four state medalists in school history and Schutz could be the first medalist since Don Morgan claimed third in 1996.
Sizing up the bracket: Schutz's first opponent, Shields, is unranked according to Premier PA Rankings, while the Warriors standout is 10th. But possibly waiting for Schutz in the quarterfinals is Biglerville's Laike Gardner (38-4), who is ranked fourth according to the publication and was the state runner-up last year. Bethlehem Catholic's Randy Cruz (38-2) and Benton's Colt Cotten (33-2) are ranked first and second, respectively and sit on the opposite side of the bracket. Then there's Claysburg-Kimmel's James Dodson (37-0) atop the bracket as the lone unbeaten in the weight and Reynolds senior Dylan D'Urso (36-1), who placed third a year ago.
Darren Stucker, Meyers (145) – Grade: 12 Record: 24-5; First bout: Fort LeBoeuf senior Kody Pace (44-8), who enters as the second seed from the Northwest Region.
Notes: Stucker, who is participating in his first state tournament, placed fourth in the region last weekend and is a two-time District 2 Class 2A champion. The three-time regional qualifier now has a pair of regional medals and enters the PIAA Championships with 87 career wins.
School Notes: A state title would be the first for the Mohawks since Joe Rovelli was crowned titlist in 2004. Stucker could join teammate Vito Pasone as a state medalist. Pasone took seventh last year.
Sizing up the bracket: Stucker's first opponent qualified for last year's tournament, but didn't place. A win for Stucker could set up a bout with Juniata senior Zach Beitz (38-1), who is ranked first in the state according to Premier PA Rankings and finished third in the state last year. Hughesville's Kyle Barnes (37-0), the lone unbeaten in the weight and is ranked second in the state, sits atop the bracket, while Stucker is near the bottom. Only two others in the bracket – Ryan Todora (35-9) from Bethlehem Catholic and Joe Hibbler (32-5) from Seneca – were placewinners last year. They are both on Stucker's half of the bracket.
Kyle Hankinson, Crestwood (145) – Grade: 12 Record: 27-3; First bout: Canon-McMillan senior Dario Dobbin (36-9), who wrapped up the second seed from the Southwest Region last weekend.
Notes: Making his first state appearance, Hankinson is a four-time regional qualifier and a two-time district champ. He enters this weekend with 95 career wins after finishing second at the Northeast Regional Tournament last weekend.
School Notes: A gold medal would be the fourth all-time for Crestwood and the team's first since Joe Kemmerer in 2004. A state medal would be the first for the Comets since Jake O'Hara placed third in 2009.
Sizing up the bracket: Easton's Mitchell Minotti (37-0) is a defending PIAA champion, while Chambersburg junior Garett Hammond (35-4) was runner-up a year ago. Hammond and Hankinson could square off in the quarters if both are victorious in the first round. After those two, only Hankinson's first opponent was a state medalist last year taking seventh. No other participant in Hankinson's half of the bracket were state qualifiers in 2011.
Chad Hoffman, Hazleton Area (195) – Grade: 12 Record: 34-4; First bout: P.J. Steinmetz (39-3), a junior from Council Rock South and the Southeast Regional champion.
Notes: Hoffman is coming off his second straight third-place showing at the Northeast Regional Tournament to become a two-time state qualifier. He took eighth at states last year and enters with 108 career victories.
School Notes: Hoffman is looking to become just the second PIAA Champion in Hazleton Area history joining Nate Eachus in 2007. The last medalists for the Cougars came in 2010 when Pat LaBuz took sixth and Jared Kay placed third.
Sizing up the bracket: Hoffman's first opponent didn't qualify for this event last season, but he is still ranked fourth in the state according to Premier PA Rankings, one spot ahead of Hoffman. Perry Hills (31-0) from Pittsburgh Central Catholic placed fourth last season and is ranked first according to PPR. He could be waiting for Hoffman if both advance to the semifinals. Wilson (West Lawn) sophomore Hunter Hatlee (37-6) or Bellefonte junior Nicholas Shawley (36-7), who both did not qualify last year, could see Hoffman in the quarters.
Chris Wesolowski, Pittston Area (285) – Grade: 12 Record: 21-12; First bout: Kiski Area sophomore Shane Kuhn (34-4), who enters as the second seed from the Northwest Region.
Notes: Wesolowski, the No. 2 seed the Northeast Regional, is making his first trip to Hershey. He also advanced to regionals last weekend for the first time after a runner-up showing at districts. His last five losses have all come to Coughlin's Brad Emerick (39-0). He hasn't lost to anyone other than Emerick since December.
School Notes: Wesolowski is trying to become just the second state champion for the Patriots and could join his coach, James Woodall, in that category; Woodall's title came in 1999. The last medalist for Pittston Area was Robbie Robinson, who placed second in 2008.
His half of the bracket: Wesolowski's first opponent is the runner-up from the Southwest Region and did not qualify for the PIAA's last season. Chambersburg senior Dawson Peck (10-0) is ranked first in the state according to Premier PA Rankings after knocking off defending state champion Averee Robinson (38-3) in the South Central Regional final. Peck was also runner-up last year to Robinson. Josh Duplin (34-1) from Westmont Hilltop placed fifth in the state last year.
Brad Emerick, Coughlin (285) – Grade: 11 Record: 39-0; First bout: McDowell sophomore Scot Augustine (34-7), who is the third seed from the Northwest Region.
Notes: Emerick has won several gold medals this season and would love to leave Hershey with one more. He's coming off his first regional and district championship and is participating in his first state event. He has the most wins in his bracket and is the only unbeaten wrestler with more than 10 wins in the weight class. Chambersburg's Dawson Peck is 10-0.
School Notes: A state title for Emerick would be the first in school history for the Crusaders. Last year, Josh Popple was runner-up and became just the third wrestler in school history to advance to the state final.
His half of the bracket: A win in the first round for the fifth-ranked wrestler in the state according to Premier PA Rankings would likely set up a match against defending state champion Averee Robinson (38-3) from Susquehanna Township. Cody Klempay (38-1) from Canon-McMillan took third in the state last year and is ranked third in the state. Klempay and Robinson are the only two in Emerick's side of the bracket who were state qualifiers last season.