PIAA Southwest Regional – Feb. 21, 2020

Westmont Hilltop’s Mason Muto (left) and Chestnut Ridge’s Seth Holderbaum wrestle during their opening-round bout at 182 pounds at the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Tournament at Kovalchick Center in Indiana on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020. Muto defeated Holderbaum 2-1 in a tiebreaker. 

INDIANA – The 145-pound bracket at the Southwest Regional Class AA Wrestling Tournament looks familiar to anyone who was at the District 6 event at Altoona Area High School last weekend.

And just about every other weight class looks familiar to those who were at the District 5 tournament at Richland.

All four semifinalists at 145 are from District 6, and Chestnut Ridge will have six wrestlers still in the hunt for titles when wrestling resumes on Saturday morning at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Richland’s Cooper Warshel knocked off District 5 champion Tristan Pugh – a returning state medalist – to join 170-pound teammate Jacob Sabol in the semifinals.

“It’s amazing,” Warshel said. 

“It’s arguably my first taste of my hard work paying off. It’s not just wrestling, it’s eating right, going to bed at the right time, choosing practice over the party. 

“It’s just a product of doing everything right.”

It took nearly a minute of work in the third period, but Warshel finally finished a shot with less than 20 seconds for a takedown in his 3-1 victory over Pugh, who had recorded his 150th career victory in the first round.

It’s a shot that Warshel has struggled to finish against Bald Eagle Area’s Gage McClenahan, whom he will face in the 145-pound semifinals on Saturday. McClenahan beat him 5-2 last weekend and 3-0 at the Ultimate Warrior Tournament in January.

“Third time’s a charm,” Warshel said. “I’m going to leave it all out there. There’s no pressure. Just be myself.”

The top half of the 145-pound bracket will feature another rematch as Forest Hills’ Erik Gibson takes on Westmont Hilltop’s Noah Korenoski.

Gibson won 19-4 in Altoona.

“I think District 6 is pretty heavy. A lot of studs there. It’s nice to see everyone competing hard from District 6,” Korenoski said. “He’s a stud, too, but I need to let everything loose. This is my last year. 

“I’m not holding anything back, especially against someone like that.”

Korenoski beat South Park’s Anthony Weil 6-2 in the first round Friday, then dispatched Somerset’s Ethan Hemminger by a 4-2 score.

“I like how I wrestled today,” Korenoski said. 

“Hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow.”

Korenoski is joined in the semifinals by teammate Tanner Dluhos. The 195-pound champion from District 6 will take on Elizabeth-Forward’s Ethan Cain.

Forest Hills has Gibson, Easton Toth (113 pounds) and Jackson Arrington (126) in the semifinal round. Gibson had two falls on Friday while Arrington, a returning state champion, had a fall and a technical fall on his way to a date with Chestnut Ridge’s Ross Dull.

Toth pinned Quaker Valley’s Michael Carmody and beat Mount Pleasant’s Luke Geibig 4-0. 

He’ll now face Chestnut Ridge’s Kai Burkett.

The Lions have the semifinalists in the five lightest weight classes. Calan Bollman (106), Nathan Holderbaum (120), Kaleb Miller (132) and Duane Knisely (220) join Dull and Burkett as Chestnut Ridge wrestlers who have already locked up a top-six finish and a spot in Hershey.

Chestnut Ridge leads the team standings with 65 points – 17.5 more than second-place St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy.

“Great day,” Lions coach Josh Deputy said. “We were flat last week. 

“We did not wrestle well. And they responded today like they have all year. When they’ve been flat, the next time they get out there, they’re ready to go.”

Bald Eagle Area is third, with Forest Hills in fourth and District 6 champion Glendale in fifth.

Bedford has a pair of semifinalists in Kaden Cassidy (138) and Ashton Dull (195).

Meyersdale’s Jalen Stephens – who like Cassidy notched his 100th career victory on Friday – also advanced to the semifinal round.

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