Bishop McCort Catholic wrestlers led the way for a strong performance by local wrestlers at the Keystone State Championships, which were held at the Monroeville Convention Center after Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling canceled its events.
While not affiliated with the PJW organization – which was scheduled to hold its state tournament in Johnstown – the Keystone event was similar in that it required placement at a qualifying tournament in order to advance to the state bracket.
The Crimson Crushers had a pair of state champions in the junior high division.
Bo Bassett won his seventh state folkstyle title with a 20-5 technical fall in 3:00 over Bedford’s Kross Cassidy in the 102-pound weight class.
“We wrestled in the regional qualifier. I’ve wrestled Kross my whole life,” Bassett said. “He’s always been a good competitor, a good opponent.
“It’s always cool to wrestle a guy in the state finals that’s local, that you’ve wrestled your whole life.”
The victory puts Bassett in some exclusive company. Only one wrestler – Franklin Regional’s Nico Cortese – won eight PJW titles, with his last coming in 2004. The only other seven-time PJW champs, with the year they won their final title, are Jefferson-Morgan legend Cary Kolat (1988), Rocky Anderson (1997) of Southmoreland/Mount Pleasant and Southern Columbia’s Gavin Garcia (2018).
“It feels amazing,” Bassett said of joining that group. “It’s an honor to win this, to win my seventh. I’m already thinking about and visualizing working for my eighth. I’m super proud of the whole team and super proud of this accomplishment, but I want to win No. 8 next year.”
Bishop McCort’s Melvin Miller captured his second state title, beating Saegertown’s Carter Beck 11-1 for the championship at 87 pounds.
Keystone Central was the only other school with two junior high champions, and no school could match the Crushers’ five finalists and six medalists.
Jackson Butler was a runner-up at 112 pounds, falling 8-2 to Nazareth’s Nathan Desmond, while Luke Sipes finished second at 140 after a 1-0 loss to Connellsville’s Lonzy Vielma. Jacob Yatsky claimed silver at 212 pounds after a loss by fall to Muncy’s Austin Johnson in the finals.
Devon Magro (third, 124 pounds) and Jordan Butler (eighth, 147) also made it onto the podium for Bishop McCort.
“We’ve been working super hard as a team,” Bassett said. “We knew we were going to have a huge states. I’m super proud of the team.
“They did amazing things. A lot of guys breaking through that hadn’t been on the podium or high on the podium before. We want to win high school titles in the future.”
Chestnut Ridge had medalists in Dominic Deputy (third, 82) and Mason Weyant (sixth, 132).
Zane Hagans of Somerset placed third at 212 pounds while teammate Rowan Holmes was fifth at 157.
United, which had the state’s junior high coach of the year in Mike Sees, produced a pair of placewinners in Jacob Sombronski (fifth, 102) and Josef Garshnick (sixth, 92).
Bedford’s Kylar Claycomb came in sixth place at 212.
Chestnut Ridge’s Kooper Deputy captured the 65-pound title with a 2-1 victory over Tunkhannock’s Wyatt Stauffer.
Bishop McCort’s C.J. Pensiero beat Downingtown East’s Ricky Jewell 10-4 for the 105-pound crown.
Keegan Bassett of Bishop McCort lost by fall to Garnet Valley’s Declan Obyrne in the 85-pound final.
Other medalists from the area include Bishop McCort’s Eli Herring (third, 75), Chestnut Ridge’s Jayden Imler (sixth, 105), Berlin Brothersvalley’s I. Honor Paxton (sixth, 160), North Star’s Brady Meyers (sixth, 200) and Rockwood’s Dawson Shaffer (seventh, 90).
Westmont Hilltop’s Garrett Dluhos (seventh, 150), Bedford’s Carter Kozielec (eighth, 90) and United’s Jake McConville (eighth, 95) were the local wrestlers to make the podium 9- and 10-year-old bracket.
Ages 8 and younger
Forest Hills’ Bronsyn Baxter captured the 8-and-under championship at 65 pounds with an 11-0 major decision over Kane’s Mason Myers.
Chestnut Ridge’s Owen Swindell was a runner-up at 55 pounds, falling 4-1 to Hollidaysburg’s Mason Kephart.
Other medalists include Chestnut Ridge’s Kayne Burkett (third, 90) and Kohyn Deputy (fourth, 45) and Bedford’s Jackson Beegle (fourth, 50) and Dexter Ward (eighth, 90).
Giada Croteau of Richland claimed the 8-and-younger title at 57 pounds by pinning Connellsville’s London Powell in the finals.
Bedford’s Camryn Steinbuch was a runner-up at 165 pounds in the junior high division, and Mylah Steinbuch placed fourth at 145 pounds in the 11-12 age group.