Tremendous Ten: Dragons advance record number to NW Regional

Ten Warren Area High School wrestlers – Owen Balas, Ryan Madigan, Avery Smith, Alex Anderson, Donovan Fiscus, John Fankhouser, Jamo Douvlos, Liam Stevenson, Dominic Caprino and Joey Arnold finished in the top four in their respective weight classes at the D-10 championships, all advancing to the NW Regional in the process. They are pictured with coaches Dean Johnson, John Hamm and Paul Streich

ERIE – The 2017-18 season has been a frustrating one at times for the Warren Dragons, but they certainly stepped up when it mattered the most.

That actually might be an understatement, as the Dragons had 10 wrestlers earn top four finishes at the District 10 Class 3A championships on Saturday at McDowell Intermediate School. By virtue of those top four finishes, those 10 – Owen Balas, Ryan Madigan, Alex Anderson, Avery Smith, Donovan Fiscus, John Fankhouser, Jamo Douvlos, Liam Stevenson, Dominic Caprino and Joey Arnold all advance to the Northwest Regional in Altoona. That number also marks a program record.

Balas and Madigan earned second place finishes, Anderson, Stevenson and Caprino all finished third in their respective weight classes and Smith, Fiscus, Fankhouser, Douvlos and Arnold fourth.

“We had a great morning,” said Warren coach Dean Johnson.

All of the key early action that Johnson was referring to began at 9:30 a.m.

Balas, wrestling at 160, needed just 31 seconds to pin Oil City’s Scott Carter in the quarterfinals, and was equally dominant in the semis, tech falling General McLane’s Cayden Connolly 18-2 at the 5:04 mark of the third period.

Madigan, meanwhile, received a bye to the semfinals, where he defeated McDowell’s Nathan Digello via injury default at the 5:07 mark.

Both wrestlers fell in their respective championship matches – Balas to Cathedral Prep’s Carter Starocci via first period pin fall and Madigan was tech falled at the very end of the second period by Prep’s Ben Tirpak. Starocci is the 10th ranked wrestler in the nation at 160 according to InterMat.

Nevertheless, it was a great day for the pair, as it was for their teammates as well.

All of the other Warren wrestlers won their first round matchups except for Fankhouser at 138, who battled all the way back into the top four.

He did so by earning a major decision over General McLane’s Dominic Shrader, followed by a hard-fought 8-5 decision over Oil City’s Duane Brown.

Smith, Anderson, Fiscus, Douvlos, Stevenson, Caprino and Arnold all dropped their quarterfinal matches, but each emerged victorious in their next match in the consolation bracket. Those were the wins that assured all of them top four finishes.

Smith pinned Meadville’s Tyler Ehgott at 120, Anderson (126) pinned General McLane’s Patrick Angelo at 3:36, Fiscus earned a 7-5 decision over GM’s Andrew Sweet, Douvlos claimed a 7-1 decision over Erie’s Patrick Dacus at 152, Stevenson advanced via a bye at 170, Caprino pinned Ian Burns of Meadville at 182 and Arnold pinned Lucas Nowocyski of McDowell at 195.

Anderson pinned Meadville’s Layne Reeher in 3:36 for third place, while Stevenson and Caprino also earned pins to take third – Stevenson in 1:41 over McDowell’s Noah Bielak and Caprino in 2:29 over James Laird.

Action gets underway from Altoona this Friday, with the top four in each weight class advancing to the PIAA championships.