Nine wrestlers from the Gazette coverage area have reached the season’s final weekend at the Class AA state tournament in Hershey.
Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. this morning with preliminary bouts and the first round, followed by a round of consolations.
On Friday, quarterfinals are at 9 a.m. with consolations to follow, then the semifinals are at 7:30 p.m. with consolations again.
The season concludes on Saturday with the place bouts set for a 2 p.m. start.
Below is a closer look at each of the locals and their respective brackets.
Burkett has had a strong second season for the Lions and enters with a 32-4 record.
In today’s first round, he’ll face Lewisburg freshman Kaiden Wagner, who is 32-7. They’ve faced one common opponent in Forest Hills freshman Easton Toth. Burkett scored a technical fall against the Ranger, while Toth defeated Wagner 2-0.
A Burkett win would likely set up a quarterfinal with Reynolds sophomore Gary Steen, the defending state champion. At the Powerade Tournament in December, Steen defeated Burkett by a 9-0 major decision.
Also in the top half of the draw is Biglerville freshman Levi Haines, who is highly regarded and unbeaten at 37-0.
On the bottom half are unbeatens Joey Fischer (35-0) and Sheldon Seymour (32-0). South Park’s Fischer beat Burkett 4-3 in the regional final, while Troy’s Seymour placed fourth at this weight last year.
Of the 20 wrestlers in the bracket, 11 are freshmen.
Chestnut Ridge Junior
Another Lion making his state tournament debut is Holderbaum, who is 27-11 and was the fifth-place finisher in the Southwest Regional.
That put Holderbaum in a preliminary bout where he faces Line Mountain freshman Mason Leshock, who was fourth in the Northeast Regional with a record of 21-22.
If Holderbaum wins, he gets East Pennsboro junior Adam Jacob, 36-3 and the Southeast Regional champion, in the first round.
The weight includes two state medalists from 106 last year — Benton’s Gable Strickland who placed fifth, and Eisenhower’s Logan Jaquay who was eighth. Also in Jaquay’s half are Elizabeth Forward’s Ryan Michaels, the Southwest champion, and Southern Columbia’s Kole Biscoe, third in the Northeast but highly ranked all season.
The 132-pound bracket is without a doubt one of the toughest ones this year and it includes two locals in Bedford’s Kaden Cassidy and Everett’s Garret Cornell.
Cassidy, the Southwest Regional champion at 34-1, will face either Quaker Valley’s Conner Redinger or Upper Dauphin’s Zach Rupp in the first round.
Cassidy placed third at 106 two years ago, while Redinger was third at that weight last March.
Cornell suffered back-to-back losses in the regional tournament before pinning Redinger in the fifth-place bout. The Everett senior is in a preliminary bout against Redbank Valley’s Ethan Wiant, fourth in the Northwest Regional with a record of 33-8.
A Cornell victory puts the 126-pound third placer from a year ago against Sullivan County’s Nathan Higley, 34-2 and the champion from the Northeast Regional. Higley placed sixth at 132 last year.
Overall, there are nine former medalists in this bracket. They include Cassidy, Cornell, Higley, Redinger, Saucon Valley’s Josh Jones, Southern Columbia’s Patrick Edmonson, St. Joseph’s Academy’s Zack Witmer, Northern Lebanon’s Colin Leonard, and Cambridge Springs’ Tye Varndell.
Chestnut Ridge Senior
McGill goes to the state tournament for the fourth time and the second straight season with an unbeaten record. The Lion senior is 36-0 and already has three state medals (sixth at 132, fourth at 170, and third at 160).
In today’s first round, McGill will face the winner between Reynolds sophomore Cole Toy and Tamaqua sophomore Nate Wickersham. Also in McGill’s half of the draw is Greenville senior Brady Gentile, the Northwest Regional winner at 41-3.
McGill has already beaten five wrestlers this season that are on the opposite side of the bracket. That includes two victories over McGuffey’s Christian Clutter and a win over Athens’ David Galasso, the Northeast Regional champion. Also on the bottom is Littlestown’s Carl Harris, who McGill pinned in a consolation bout two years ago.
McGill is looking to be just the second four-time state medalist in Chestnut Ridge history. Justin McCoy became the first last season.
Mowry placed fifth in the Southwest Regional and is the first Northern Bedford state qualifier since 2016. He holds a season record of 28-7 and will wrestle Muncy sophomore Ethan Gush (36-14) in the preliminary round.
If Mowry wins, he’ll face Harris (23-2) in the first round. Harris has placed eighth at 170 in each of the last two years.
Tussey Mountain Senior
Lemin has had a breakout season that continues at the state tournament this weekend.
The Tussey senior is 28-7 and faces Bishop McDevitt senior Lawrence Richardson, who is 28-4, in the first round.
Looming in Lemin’s quarter of the bracket is Southern Columbia’s Gaige Garcia, a two-time medalist and 43-0 this season.
Also on the top half are North Star’s Hunter Tremain and Bentworth’s John Vargo, a medalist last year who Lemin beat in the regional semifinals two weeks ago.
Chestnut Ridge Junior
Knisely reached his first state tournament with a runner-up finish in the Southwest Regional two weeks ago.
Today, the Lion (34-6) draws Southern Columbia’s Preston Zachman (42-8) in the first round. The two did not meet last month in the state team tournament’s semifinal round.
Knisely is in the bottom half of the bracket which includes Greenville’s Jacob McMaster, 44-0 and a two-time medalist, and Jim Thorpe’s Ethan Mordaunt, who is 37-2.
Clark, 28-11, had three straight consolation wins at the regional tournament to earn his ticket with a fourth-place finish.
In his state tournament opener, Clark has a preliminary bout with Bishop McDevitt junior Tyrone Fowler (21-3), who was fifth in the Southeast Regional.
The winner faces Montoursville junior Cameron Wood, who is 39-4 and won the Northeast Regional. Also in the top half is Derry senior Dom DeLuca, the Southwest Regional champion and a two-time placewinner.