IN MY MANY YEARS of covering high school wrestling, I have seen many powerhouse programs rise and fall.
Reynolds is one of the state’s most consistant programs and the success at the state level year after year has demonstrated that. And no offense to the Raiders faithful, but I don’t know if there have been some of Reynolds’ better teams that could beat the Bethlehem Catholic teams of the past few years.
BeCa has won the last four PIAA Class AA Dual Meet Championships during that span and as young as they are this year, there could be more titles in the future.
Last year the Golden Hawks qualified 12 wrestlers for the individual state tourney although four were seniors, including state champ Damien Cruz. It will be interesting to see how many qualify this year as they go for their third straight tournament title there.
ä Former Sharon High mat star Eric Mausser has built a strong program and Franklin Regional and the team won the PIAA Class AAA Dual Meet Championship Saturday with an easy finals victory over fellow WPIAL team Latrobe.
The team placed third at the duals last year and got an added boost this season when a couple of wrestlers transferred from the Saegertown program — including AA state champ Devin Brown.
It would have been fun to see BeCa wrestle Franklin Regional as part of the dual meet tournament.
ä Speaking of wrestling powerhouses, former Sharpsville High star Tom McMath has built one at Jensen Beach (Fla.) High School.
McMath, who after Sharpsville went on to an outstanding career at West Virginia University, is now in his 8th season at Jensen Beach in Martin County, Fla. While Florida has separate high schools, they have county school districts.
My brother Paul, who has been matside shooting photos for The Herald for the last several years at Pennsylvania postseason tournaments, caught up with McMath during the Florida regional championships held at Jensen Beach H.S., where McMath doubles as the tournament director.
According to Paul:
ä The school newly opened in 2004 and he came in 2006 as a teacher and coach.
ä When the program started there were only a few wrestlers in the room, but he now has more than 30. Some students he talked to when he first started didn’t know they had wrestling.
ä He instituted and coaches the Barricuda Wrestling Club during the off-season.
ä He feels this year is his best team since many of them came up through the system and wrestle during the off season. At the regionals, he had four champions and qualified 10 of his matmen for the state tournament this coming weekend.
ä He has 11 District champions and 4 state champions to date. He has returning state champion Chris Favoroso wrestling at 195.
ä He says, while Florida wrestling has been behind other states where wrestling has been around for awhile, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, it is getting much better. He feels the top 2 or 3 wrestlers in Florida could do well in other states. He is hoping to take a couple of his wrestlers to the National High School Tourney
One of the problems is that the sport hasn’t caught on as much with the media in Florida, which focuses more on college and pro sports. One of the drawbacks for the sport is that there isn’t one major Florida college that offers wrestling.
ä Tom is engaged. He and Kimberly will be married in April. They met in Florida, although she is originally from the Philadelphia area. She is big wrestling fan and understands the time commitment it takes to coach.
ä His good friend and former Blue Devils football teammate John Napotnik comes down to visit every year during the tournaments. McMath and Napotnik were two of the several key players on Sharpsville’s state championship football team in 1997.
Note the shorts on McMath in the photo. Hey, it’s Florida! The weather is slightly different there at tournament time than it is in Pennsylvania.
ä The postseason gets under way in earnest this coming weekend as the Section tournaments open.
Mercer County matmen will be competing in either the Section 2 tourney at Sharon or Section 3 at Greenville.
Lynn Saternow is sports editor of The Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN MY MANY YEARS of covering high school wrestling, I have seen many powerhouse programs rise and fall.
Breese defends heavyweight title at PIAA Championships
HERSHEY, Pa. — Move over Rod Wright!
Lakeview senior heavyweight star Sam Breese had a goal coming into the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships this weekend at Hershey Giant Center — besides winning a second state crown, that is.
WM knocks off Neshannock in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — The notion of Trey Staunch sneaking up on opposing teams is laughable. At 6-foot-3 and approximately 225 pounds, the stout Staunch is not sneaking up on anyone.
However after posting a game-high 31-point, 18-rebound performance in West Middlesex High basketball team’s 76-66 PIAA Class AA playoffs opening-round win over Neshannock Saturday night, Staunch said opponents may have been overlooking the Big Reds.
Hickory girls 26-0, oust Johnstown
SLIPPERY ROCK — At Morrow Field House Saturday evening, the Hickory Lady Hornets kept the perfect season alive with a 63-37 state playoff first round win over the Greater Johnstown Trojans from District 6.
“It feels great to get the win (Saturday),” said veterans Hickory coach Jeanette Whitehead. “We’ve been at this place over the last few years and we’ve been sent home in the first round so it was a huge win for us. I’m very proud of our team effort."
KC girls roll past California in PIAA playoffs
SLIPPERY ROCK — Kennedy Catholic High girls’ basketball team was in the ’hood Saturday afternoon.
Led by senior Taylor Hood, the Lady Golden Eagles eased past California, 53-34, in the opening round of the PIAA Class A playoffs.
Lakeview's Breese to defend PIAA title
HERSHEY, Pa. — If you are Major League Baseball player, a .333 batting average is great. But in wrestling at the state tournament — not so much!
Out of the dozen wrestlers that Mercer County sent to Hershey for the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships, only four (.333) will reach the medal stand today — led by Lakeview senior Sam Breese who shoots for a second straight gold medal.
Farrell edges Montour, 60-57, in PIAA opener
Montour High boys’ basketball coach Adam Kaufman lamented another season-ending setback. However there are several hundred coaches across the Commonwealth who envy his program’s recent success and would trade places with him in a heartbeat.
But during Friday night’s PIAA Class AAA playoff opener, Kaufman & Co. could not overcome those streaky Steelers ... those survivin’ Steelers.
“ ... Hey, survive and move on,” summarized Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse following Farrell’s 60-57 win at Sharon High.
GCC ousts Mercer in 1st round of PIAAs
The Mercer Lady Mustangs were outscored 16-4 in the final quarter of the first round of the state playoffs by the Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions, ending their season Friday night 56-31 at Sharon High School.
Senior Lexie Arkwright had a 20-point, 10-rebound double-double performance for the Lady M’s. She also snagged three steals. Adelyn Cook and Haylie Glass each added 4 points for Mercer.
5 area matmen to quarterfinals in Hershey
HERSHEY — Mercer County matmen had mixed results on the opening day of action in the PIAA State Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center.
Only 5 of the county’s dozen entries — led by defending state champ Sam Breese of Lakeview (285) — won their preliminary matches to move into the tournament quarterfinals which begin at 9 a.m. today. However the other 7 lost their first matches, although 3 are still alive in the consolations heading into this morning’s action.
Coach Chad Mild's Big Reds are road warriors
West Middlesex High boys basketball team did not play its first home game until after the first of the year, but competing at New Castle, Farrell and Youngstown’s Covelli Centre has served it well.
Witness West Middlesex’s 55-54 win over Fairview in last weekend’s District 10 Class AA championship game — at Edinboro University’s McComb Field House.
Boys PIAA basketball preview boxes
Who: Farrell (22-3) vs. Montour (16-8).
What: Opening round.
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Where: Sharon High’s Tiger Gymnasium.
Hickory, Mercer, KC girls PIAA playoff boxes
Who: Hickory (25-0) vs. Greater Johnstown (11-14).
What: PIAA Playoffs, 1st round.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Slippery Rock University.
Shannonhouse's Steelers set for statewide stage
With the approaching spring, a young man’s fancy turns to ... what else? The PIAA playoffs. And when Shenango Valley scholastic basketball aficionados think of the postseason they think of Farrell.
Recently at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, the banners above were blowing in the breeze — ’52 ... ’54 ... ’56 ... ’59 ... ’60 ... ’69 ... ’72 — swaying as sprinting players created a vacuum of air rising from the floor. Melodramatic maybe, but there’s a feeling at Farrell that harkens back to the heyday when playoff success was a rite of passage.
Breese eyes repeat at state mat tourney
There is no doubt that winning a state championship in wrestling is a difficult thing to do. Winning two is even tougher.
“There’s a target on your chest,” pointed out Lakeview High coach Tom Tingley in preseason this year, referring to his star wrestler Sam Breese who won a state heavyweight crown as a junior last year.
Obviously that target hasn’t bothered the Sailors big man who is a perfect 32-0 this season as he attempts to become only the 12th Mercer County matman to win multiple titles.
WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: It's a young group of county matmen headed to state
THERE’S definitely a youth movement in Mercer County wrestling as demonstrated by the group of 11 matmen who are advancing to the PIAA State Class AA Championships on Thursday.
Eight of the locals are underclassmen. The only seniors are Lakeview’s Sam Breese (285), Reynolds’ Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamestown’s Mohamed Messai (182).
Breese and Stoyer are the only returning state place-winners. Breese, who has verbally committed to Kent State University to wrestle next season, won the heavyweight class and is seeking a second gold medal. Stoyer placed 7th at 145 and wants to climb much higher on the medals stand.
Kennedy boys forfeit win, are out of playoffs
The PIAA basketball playoffs do not begin until Friday, but Mercer County already lost a team.
Kennedy Catholic High disclosed Monday the discovery of an academically-ineligible player, who competed in last Friday’s District 10 Class A consolation contest.
Kennedy Catholic edged Eisenhower in double-OT, 66-62, earning a berth in the statewide tournament. The Golden Eagles were to meet District 9 champion Ridgway Friday at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium in the opening round; instead, Eisenhower will represent D-10 as its 3rd-place team.
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