And then there were three.
A trio of Warren County wrestlers will take to the mat at this weekend's Class AA Northwest Region Tournament at Sharon High School, competing for a chance to wrestle at the PIAA State Championships beginning March 6 in Hershey.
Eisenhower sophomore Louie Head was one of nine county wrestlers who qualified for the District 10 Class AA Tournament, and was the only one to advance after a fifth-place finish in the 152-pound bracket. Head is making his second trip to regions after qualifying as a freshman last season.
Times Observer photo by Ben Oviatt
Give and take
Sheffield’s Doug Grubbs, left, and Brian Fries work on their takedowns in preparation for this weekend’s Class AA Northwest Region Tournament at Sharon High School. Grubbs, Fries, and Eisenhower’s Louie Head can advance to the state tournament with a top three finish.
Sheffield seniors Doug Grubbs (145) and Brian Fries (138) will represent the Wolverines in Sharon. The two posted remarkably similar performances in the District 9 Tournament, as each defeated opponents they had previously lost to en route to fourth place finishes in their respective weight classes.
Both will make their first trip to regions, but that's where the similarities end.
Grubbs' success has been no secret to Sheffield wrestling fans. The senior captain began wrestling in third grade and developed through the Wolverines' youth and junior high programs. His experience has made him an example to the younger Sheffield wrestlers who hope to follow in his footsteps.
"It pushes me to work even harder to set an example for them," said Grubbs. "I just try to do the best I can and take it match by match. Making it to regions was my goal at the start of the year; now my goal is to place. We'll see what happens."
Fries, on the other hand, is a fresh face in the Wolverine program. He began wrestling in Quakertown, Pa., before stepping away from the sport in junior high. It wasn't until this year that he found his way back to the mat thanks to a co-op program Sheffield shares with Abraxas.
"It took me a couple weeks to start getting back into the swing of things," admitted Fries, who head coach Jack Rice referred to as his team's "darkhorse" prior to the season. "(Making it to states) would be the biggest accomplishment of my life. I've never really made it anywhere in wrestling before this, so that would be huge."
"We had to take things slower and go step-by-step with Brian at the start of the season," said Rice. "Now the rust is knocked off and he's back up to speed with the other guys."
Rice believes both Grubbs (24-10) and Fries (26-10) will have competitive matches in the first round. Fries opens the tournament against Union City's Dustin Tomcho and Grubbs squares off against Jared Sample of Grove City.
Fries' bracket includes top-ranked Brock Zacherl of Brookville, and Grubbs could meet either Brookville's Zach Vroman or Reynolds' Levi Stoyer, both of whom are returning PIAA state medalists.
First up for Head (25-6) in his return to Sharon is Brockway's Cody McClintock in the 152-pound bracket. McClintock finished fourth in the District 9 Tournament and has a record of 17-16 this season.
"He has a good shot at advancing, he just has to wrestle hard all weekend," said Eisenhower coach Greg Gourley. "I told him not to worry about other wrestlers, but just concentrate on one match at a time."
A win over McClintock would set up a rematch against Cochranton's Robert Boozer, who knocked Head into the consolation bracket at districts.
"Most guys in his bracket have beaten him either this year or at the end of last year to knock him out of tournaments," said Gourley. "I think he feels like he's the underdog. He can beat those kids, but he has to wrestle hard and smart or he won't be going on."
While Head is making his second trip to regions, he's still in search of his first win. As a 145-pounder last season, Head was defeated by Conneaut's Taylor Ellis in a 14-11 decision and eliminated by Grove City's Trey Maher via an 8-5 tally.
None of the three county wrestlers were listed among Dan Albaugh's top three predicted finishers heading into the region tournament. Brock Zacherl (138), Stoyer (145), and Brodie Zacherl (152) are the favorites to win those three weight classes.
The 2014 Class AA Northwest Region Tournament begins with preliminary rounds on Friday and continues in the championship and consolation brackets on Saturday. The top three finishers in each weight class will advance to the PIAA Class AA Tournament in Hershey.
Here are the first-round pairings Friday at Sharon High School:
Teams: Brockway (Bway), Brookville (Bv), Cambridge Springs (CS), Cameron County (CC), Clarion (Cl), Cochranton (Cton), Commodore Perry (CP), Conneaut (Conn), Corry (Cy), Coudersport (Coud), Cranberry (Cran), Eisenhower (E), Fort LeBoeuf (FL), Franklin (Fr), Greenville (Gv), Grove City (GC), Harbor Creek (HC), Hickory (H), Jamestown (J), Kane (K), Keystone (Key), Lakeview (Lv), Maplewood (Mw), Mercer (Mer), North East (NE), Northwestern (Nw), Oswayo Valley (OV), Port Allegany (PO), Redbank Valley (RV), Reynolds (Rey), Ridgway (Rid), Saegertown (Sae), Seneca (Sen), Sharon (Sh), Sharpsville (Sv), Sheffield (Sheff), Smethport (Smeth), Union City (UC)
106 pounds: 9-1 Ryan Carlson, so., Bway, 23-6 bye; 10-6 Nate Munsee, so., Cy, 23-8 vs. 10-4 Hunter Goodlin, so., J, 29-6; 9-3 Ryan Kube, so., RV, 21-13 bye; 10-2 Michael Lineman, fr., Gv, 36-5 bye; 9-2 Gavin Park, fr., Bv, 27-5 bye; 10-3 Dominic Vadala, fr., H, 30-10 bye; 9-4 Joshua Hancock, fr., Cran, 25-7 vs. 10-5 Abe Guarriello, fr., FL, 26-14; 10-1 Gage Bayless, fr., Rey, 36-4 bye.
113: 10-1 Faris Messai, so., J, 27-4 bye; 9-4 Harrison Keenan, fr., Cran, 22-12 vs. 10-5 Justin Walter, jr., H, 27-7; 10-3 Seth Hogue, so., Rey, 31-8 bye; 9-2 Casey Vollmer, jr., PA, 27-4 bye; 10-2 Preston Hoover, jr., Mer, 24-9 bye; 9-3 Austin Woolcock, sr., K, 21-10 bye; 10-4 Jase Paxton, jr., Gv, 34-10 vs. 10-6 Sam Svetz, so., NE, 19-11; 9-1 Taylor Ortz, so, Bv, 31-3 bye.
120: 10-1 Jarrette Carter, so., FL, 27-8 bye; 9-4 Drew Baumgratz, fr., Rid, 20-10 vs. 10-5 Chaise Hauck, fr., Rey, 25-13; 10-3 Matt Wheeler, sr., Nw, 32-3 bye; 9-2 Cole Aaron, so, Bv, 23-10 bye; 10-2 Bingbong Elizon, jr., Sae, 24-12 bye; 9-3 Jon Gelsick, sr., K, 25-5 bye; 10-4 Logan Gray, so, NE, 24-10 vs. 10-6 Dustin Weilacher, so., UC, 23-10; 9-1 Willis Gruver, sr., RV, 30-5 bye.
126: 9-1 Cody Blankenship, sr., K, 27-1 bye; 10-6 Brandon Moss, jr., Gv, 19-13 vs. 10-4 John Mott, fr., CP, 25-10; 9-3 Tanner Altobelli, so., RV, 29-7 bye; 10-2 Austin Alfreno, sr., Sh, 24-8 bye; 9-2 Cole Clever, jr., Bv, 19-12 bye; 10-3 Tyler Kuzma, sr., FL, 30-13 bye; 9-4 Jack Glasl, jr., Bway, 22-10 vs. 10-5 Adam Ballew, so., NE, 17-9; 10-1 Michael Bartolo, jr., Rey, 31-8 bye.
132: 10-1 Tyler Vath, jr., Sae, 31-6 bye; 9-4 Brandon Saline, jr., CC, 25-5 vs. 10-5 Blake Reynolds, fr., Gv, 35-12; 10-3 Luke Walter, jr., GC, 34-4 bye; 9-2 Mason Lindenmuth, so., Bway, 20-3 bye; 10-2 Kyle Lukowich, sr., Conn, 28-6 bye; 9-3 Daren Brown, sr., K, 26-6 bye; 10-4 Chris Hibbler, so., Sen, 22-7 vs. 10-6 Joel Leise, fr., Rey, 23-15; 9-1 Dalton Zimmerman, jr., Bv, 22-7 bye.
138: 9-1 Brock Zacherl, sr., Bv, 34-2 bye; 10-6 Alex DiGregorio, sr., Rey, 23-18 vs. 10-4 Adam Fish, so., Sen, 28-7; 9-3 Luke Gallo, jr., RV, 22-14 bye; 10-2 Nick Monico, so., Sae, 31-8 bye; 9-2 Adam Shunk, so., Smeth, 22-8 bye; 10-3 Gavin Wilkerson, fr., Gv, 38-7 bye; 9-4 Brian Fries, sr., Sheff, 26-10 vs. 10-5 Dustin Tomcho, jr., UC, 18-9; 10-1 George McGuire, sr., FL, 35-4 bye.
145: 9-1 Zach Vroman, sr., Bv, 27-4 bye; 10-6 Derek Watt, sr., Gv, 26-15 vs. 10-4 Derek Steetle, jr., Fr, 26-11; 9-3 Mitch Blose, sr., RV, 22-8 bye; 10-2 Taylor Ellis, sr., Conn, 28-5 bye; 9-2 James Duffy, so., Smeth, 24-3 bye; 10-3 Matt Humes, sr., Sae, 28-13 bye; 9-4 Doug Grubbs, sr., Sheff, 24-10 vs. 10-5 Jared Sample, sr., GC, 26-12; 10-1 Levi Stoyer, sr., Rey, 27-3 bye.
152: 10-1 Robert Boozer, sr., Cton, 33-4 bye; 9-4 Cody McClintock, so., Bway, 17-16 vs. 10-5 Louie Head, so., E, 25-6; 10-3 Brad Malinowski, sr., FL, 30-8 bye; 9-2 Drew Burdick, sr., Smeth, 21-9 bye; 10-2 Mason McCollum, sr., Rey, 33-8 bye; 9-3 Paul Zacherl, so., Cran, 29-6 bye; 10-4 Jeremy Parsons, sr., Mw, 24-11 vs. 10-6 Garrett Zuver, sr., Sae, 25-15; 9-1 Brodie Zacherl, sr., Bv, 32-3 bye.
160: 10-1 Gage Gladysz, so., Gv, 38-2 bye; 9-4 Keshon Truitt, jr., RV, 18-12 vs. 10-5 Lance Neuscheler, jr., Sae, 21-16; 10-3 Kenny Bable, sr., GC, 20-9 bye; 9-2 Jimmy Miller, jr., Bv, 21-8 bye; 10-2 Matt Newara, sr., HC, 30-5 bye; 9-3 Samuel Colebert, sr., OV, 27-3 bye; 10-4 Colton Noble, sr., CS, 28-8 vs. 10-6 Kegan Miller, sr., Rey, 24-14; 9-3 Kyle Bova, sr., Coud, 29-0 bye.
170: 9-1 Evan Delong, sr., K, 29-0 bye; 10-6 Jordan Bryan, sr., NE, 17-7 vs. 10-4 Brad Carlini, sr., Cton, 11-12; 9-3 Dalton Sheasley, sr., Rid, 12-5 bye; 10-2 Mike Millero, jr., Rey, 37-7 bye; 9-2 Anthony Benson, jr., Bway, 26-5 bye; 10-3 Zach Miller, jr., Gv, 35-6 bye; 9-2 Zach Stiglitz, jr., Key, 21-13 vs. 10-5 Jacob Parsons, sr., Mw, 18-7; 10-1 Dakota Geer, so., Fr, 32-1 bye.
182: 10-1 Dylan Reynolds, jr., Sae, 34-4 bye; 9-4 Austin Hulings, jr., K, 20-10 vs. 10-5 Beau Dignall, sr., Sh, 26-10; 10-3 Justin Reynolds, sr., Gv, 35-6 bye; 9-2 Sam Delhunty, sr., Rid, 20-8 bye; 10-2 Austin Moffett, sr., Rey, 17-6 bye; 9-3 Kaven Hornberger, sr., RV, 13-1 bye; 10-4 Mohamed Messai, sr., J, 27-7 vs. 10-6 Kyle Panko, jr., Nw, 27-17; 9-1 Zachery Bruce, sr., Cran, 31-0 bye.
195: 9-1 Forest Tuttle, sr., Coud, 4-0 bye; 10-6 Ryan Morris, sr., Cy, 22-5 vs. 10-4 Chris Mueller, so., Sv, 29-9; 9-3 Ethan Budd, so., PA, 28-5 bye; 10-2 Marquis Spence, jr., Lv, 25-6 bye; 9-2 Brylee Shumaker, so., RV, 22-9 bye; 10-3 Zach Stafford, so., CS, 29-7 bye; 9-4 Alexander Burkhart, so., Cl, 19-12 vs. 10-5 Isaiah Stearns, sr., Mw, 21-10; 10-1 Garrett Reinwald, jr., FL, 36-7 bye.
220: 9-1 Bryce Town, sr., Bv, 26-10 bye; 10-6 Randall Peabody, sr., Gv, 21-14 vs. 10-4 Jason Shappee, sr., J, 26-10; 9-3 Keaton Rounsville, fr., K, 28-7 bye; 10-2 Connor Overman, sr., Conn, 27-8 bye; 9-2 Cal Haines, jr., RV, 27-4 bye; 10-3 Cole Rickert, fr., Rey, 27-7 bye; 9-4 Zach Sintobin, so., Cl, 22-7 vs. 10-5 Tory Pusateri, so., Sen, 21-9; 10-1 Colton Smith, so., Mer, 21-10 bye.
285: 10-1 Sam Breese, sr., Lv, 29-0 bye; 9-4 Tyler Beal, so., Key, 21-11 vs. 10-5 Mike McCool, jr., Fr, 12-12; 10-3 Nate Conti, sr., FL, 36-8 bye; 9-2 Dlyan Dinch, so., Smeth, 23-4 bye; 10-2 Gene Ringer, so., Rey, 33-11 bye; 9-3 Jack Karsten, jr., CC, bye; 10-4 Evan Miller, jr., Cton, 22-12 vs. 10-6 Brian Lipps, sr., Conn, 16-17; 9-1 Ben Carillo, sr., RV, 26-2 bye.