Whether the venue was the Farm Show Arena, Penn State’s Rec Hall, Hersheypark Arena or Hershey’s Giant Center, every wrestler who ever stepped into the bright lights of the PIAA Championships has wondered, “Will I get to the awards podium?”
Winning the state title? Sure, that was a goal. But more realistically, notching the wins needed to medal, to be recognized as one of the top wrestlers in the state, was the ultimate goal.
For four Lancaster County wrestlers in Class 3A this weekend, that question has already been answered, those doubts assuaged. Solanco’s Dominic Flatt, Penn Manor’s Colt Barley and Manheim Township’s Kaedyn Williams and Kamdyn Williams know they each have a spot on the medal stand this weekend. They earned that in the maelstrom of the PIAA Class 3A West Super Regional last Saturday, demonstrating they were one of the top eight wrestlers for their weights in the state. The only question remaining is what medal will they earn?
For Flatt and Barley, both of whom are seniors, scoring a state medal in their last shot is a blessing.
Although predicting the future is a fool’s errand, for the Williamses, both freshmen, there are many more medals in their future.
Their individual quests begin Saturday morning at 8:30 sharp, when the Class 3A tournament begins with quarterfinal competition. As with the Class 2A tournament, to be contested today, the wrestling will be broken down into two sessions, 106 through 138 and 145 through 285.
Those sessions are broken into sub-sessions, if you will. Quarterfinals for 106138 begin at 8:30 a.m., with the semifinals and consolation quarterfinals at 10. The lighter weights then yield the floor to 145-285, whose quarterfinals begin at 12:30 p.m.; semifinals and consolation quarters at 2.
The lighter weights return for consolation semis at 4 p.m., followed by championship and consolation finals at 5. The consolation semis for 145-285 begin at 7 p.m., followed by finals at 8.
Both Flatt and Kaedyn Williams have their sights set on Seneca Valley sophomore Tyler Chappell (34-2, 60-15 career) and, warily, on each other, at 106.
Chappell bested both of them last weekend, Williams, 2-1, in the semifinals and Flatt, 3-1, in the finals. As the state bracket plays out, Williams would meet Chappell in the semifinals, Flatt facing the survivor in the finals. Neither should have tunnel vision, however.
Flatt (20-5, 96-37) has a first-round match with Council Rock North junior Tony Burke (18-5 59-39), a tournament veteran who went 1-2 at 106 in the 2020 tournament, eliminated by Township’s Josh Hillard.
Also in his half of the bracket is East champion Carson Wagner (11-0, 5017) of Northampton, who placed sixth at 106 last year, and sophomore Carl Nasdeo (19-2, 45-9) of Williamsport. Both Flatt and Williams defeated Nasdeo at Altoona.
Williams’ day begins matched with East runnerup Luke Sirianni (15-3, 47-17), a sophomore from Abington Heights making his state tournament debut. Chappell opens with Stroudsburg’s Josh Jasionowicz (12-4, 68-55). The only other senior at the weight, Jasionowicz is making his second state appearance after going 2-2 in 2020.
Knocking off a returning state champion will get you noticed, and everybody noticed Kamdyn Williams after he beat Vince Kilkeary of Latrobe, 9-7, for the 113-pound West Super regional title Saturday.
On opposing sides of the state bracket, with two victories they would meet again in the finals. To get there Williams (20-0) must navigate past sophomore Cael McIntyre (10-4, 34-12) of Bethlehem Catholic in the quarterfinals and the winner between Nazareth sophomore Charlie Bunting (7-2, 46-9) and Erie Prep junior Jacob Van Dee (14-1, 88-20). Van Dee, the state runner-up to Kilkeary in 2020, lost to Williams in last weekend’s semifinals.
Kilkeary (23-2, 53-9) draws Quakertown freshman Mason Ziegler (28-1) in the quarterfinals. They share the bracket with Penn Trafford junior Troy Hohman (24-2, 68-28) and Delaware Valley sophomore Zach Jacaruso (16-0, 51-8), the East champion.
As befitting a weight class heavily populated by seniors, 189 is an impossibly deep well of state tournament experience, including Barley (21-3, 95-21), who went 0-2 at 152 last year. He draws East champion Joey Milano (15-0, 126-9) of Spring-Ford, a two-time fourth-place medalist at 182.
Bracketed with them are Nazareth senior Drew Clearie (10-2, 106-33), who placed sixth as a sophomore and third as a junior, and Dallastown senior Brooks Gable (25-3, 107-51), a twotime state qualifier.
In the bottom half of the draw Easton senior Isaiah Reinert (11-2, 88-39), a two-time qualifier and seventh-place medalist at 182, meets Hampton senior Justin Hart (26-5, 134-27), a three-time state qualifier with a cumulative record of five state wins and six losses.
Two-time qualifier and West champion Ethan Rossman (22-2, 109-29) of Bellefonte takes on Hazelton junior Bryce Molinaro (19-3, 96-26), the only underclassman at the weight, who was a qualifier at 160 in 2020.
Not your century
With the eight-man bracket being utilized at states this year the maximum number of victories a wrestler can achieve is three. Bad news for Flatt and Barley, who will cap their careers on the precipice of 100 wins, Barley with a possible best of 98, Flatt at 99.
What’s this noise?
Due to the recent relaxation of attendance limits, wrestlers will enjoy a familiar, but long missing, sound this weekend: crowd feedback. There’s nothing like the “Oooh!” as a corner of the arena responds to a good move by its favorite son. There’s nothing that compares to the roaring crescendo of the entire arena when something major happens.
Each competitor will be offered a maximum of six tickets, which tops out fan attendance in the lightweight sessions at 288 fans and 336 in the upperweight sessions. It’s not the 6,0007,000 that normally attend the tournament, but it’s better than the ghost towns that were a feature of this season.