County wrestlers travel to regional championships with eye toward states

Eisenhower's Spencer Head (top) and Warren's Owen Balas will compete at the 2A and 3A NW Regionals this weekend in Sharon and Altoona.

Warren County will be well represented during the Northwest Regional wrestling tournaments today and tomorrow. A total of 15 county grapplers will take the mat looking for regional titles and/or a berth in the PIAA State wrestling tournament.

Following a 2-10 record in the regular season, Warren shocked everyone in the District 10 3A tournament by advancing 10 wrestlers to regionals. That’s a program record number headed to regionals. They got there by starting quickly at districts.

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

The Dragons will look to repeat that start tonight in Altoona. They’ll be led by district runners-up Ryan Madigan (113) and Owen Balas (160). Alex Anderson (126), Liam Stevenson (170) and Dominic Caprino (182) finished third at districts with Avery Smith (120), Donovan Fiscus (132), John Fankhouser (138), Jamo Douvlos (152) and Joey Arnold (195) finishing fourth.

Only the top three wrestlers will advance to the state tournament.

The pending winter weather may prove to be a benefit to the Dragons as they left a day early to avoid the weather. This means they’ll avoid having to travel and wrestle the same day.

In 2A action, Eisenhower and Youngsville sent a combined 11 wrestlers to districts. Five were able to advance to regionals. They’re becoming intimately familiar with Sharon High School as the Tigers’ home gym plays host to both the district and regional tournaments.

Ike coach Kris Black scheduled in-season tournaments to help his guys get used to the surroundings before districts began and he’s already seen the benefits from that strategy.

“Being down here helped,” he said. “Just the little things (like knowing the layout), but it comes into play.”

Knights Logan Jaquay (106) and Spencer Head (152) will have the benefit of getting a bye into the quarterfinals due to their third-place finish at districts. When battling for one of the top four (2A sends the top four to states) spots, every little bit helps.

“We’ve got to be in the top four,” Black said. “Each guy has to find a path to get there.”

They will be joined by teammates Garrett Head (145) and Joey Bauer (220). Bauer suffered an injury during the district tournament, but is hoping to be 100 percent before action gets underway.

Youngsville’s Mason Benjamin (285) will also be looking to advance to the 2A state tournament. The senior Eagle finished fourth at districts and is the sole survivor for his team.

One benefit the 2A guys will have is familiarity with their opponents. Since District 10 sent six wrestlers in each weight class, they should know what to expect from many of their opponents.

“We’ve seen everyone in each weight from here,” Black said.

Despite the familiarity, Black said he wouldn’t expect drastic changes to try to throw off opponents.

“I’ve told the guys, ‘Don’t change what you do,'” he said. “It’s a good formula if it’s got you to regions.”

Action is scheduled to get underway at 5:30 p.m. tonight and will commence tomorrow evening.