CURWENSVILLE — Ten returning or former champions, half of whom will be seeking their third titles, and 22 other 2013 placewinners are among the schoolboy wrestlers entered in the District 9 Class AA Tournament booked for Tippin Gymnasium on the Clarion University campus Friday and Saturday.
Curwensville boasts one of the champs in Jake Lancaster, up two weights at 138 pounds after reigning at 126 last year, and another placewinner in Sam Bressler, up three weights at 126 after placing third at 106 a year ago.
The two juniors will be joined by 10 teammates in Friday’s noon session that will have preliminaries and quarterfinals in the championship brackets and first and second rounds in the consolation brackets.
Lancaster (16-9) received only a No. 5 seed, while Bressler (10-3) was unseeded.
The Golden Tide’s other seeds are senior Tyler Mays (15-11), seventh at 132; sophomore Hunter Lancaster (10-11), eighth at 152; junior Jake Stiles (10-15), seventh at 170, and sophomore Ben Junod (11-14), fifth at 182.
With the top four at each weight moving on to the Northwest Region Class AA Tournament, the Golden Tide will have to pull off some upsets to qualify.
“We’re gonna have to fight really hard in consolation brackets,” Curwensville coach Duane Wriglesworth said after expressing his unhappiness with the seeding process. “It’s a very tough tournament, one of the toughest I’ve seen in a long time, but the kids’ spirits are good and that’s what counts.
“As long as we have that, anything can happen. And they know that.”
Curwensville’s other entries are sophomore Jeff Harvey at 106, sophomore Jordan Peters at 145, senior Dakota Royer at 160, senior Tim Wriglesworth at 195, sophomore Remington McGarry at 220 and junior Seth Connors at 285.
The two-time champs are 126-pounder Cody Blankenship and 170-pounder Evan Delong of Kane, 138-pounder Brock Zacherl and 145-pounder Zach Vroman of Brookville and 160-pounder Kyle Bova of Coudersport.
Blankenship won at 106 in 2012 and 113 in 2013, Delong climbed to the top of the winner’s stand at 145 in 2012 and 160 in 2013, Zacherl has reigned at 138 the last two years, Vroman claimed gold at 140 as a freshman in 2011 and at 145 last February and Bova earned back-to-back titles at 152 the last two seasons.
Bova and Delong were PIAA runners-up last year, while Zacherl placed fourth and Vroman placed fifth at states.
Redbank Valley 120-pounder Willie Gruver, who ruled at 113 in 2012, lost to Blankenship in the district finals but reversed that outcome in the region finals and went on to finish seventh at Hershey.
Also aiming for a second district gold medals are Brookville 113-pounder Taylor Ortz, Brockway 170-pounder Anthony Benson and Redbank Valley 220-pounder Cal Haines.
All of the champs are seeded No. 1 except Lancaster and Benson, who is second behind Delong.
The other No. 1 seeds are Ryan Carlson (106) of Brockway, Dalton Zimmerman (132) and Brodie Zacherl (152) of Brookville, Zach Bruce of Cranberry (182), Nate Moore (195) of Kane and Ben Carrillo (285) of Redbank Valley.
Brookville, the District 9 Class Duals champ, and Smethport have the most seeds with 12, while Redbank Valley has 11 and Brockway and Kane have 10 apiece.
Brookville is the favorite in the team chase as eight Raiders own first or second seeds.
Bruce (27-0), Bova (25-0) and Delong (25-0) sport unblemished records. Forest Tuttle, the No. 2 seed at 195, won his only match after returning to the Coudersport lineup last week.
Brock Zacherl (31-2) has the most wins to top a list of 41 entries with 20 or more victories.
Survivors of the long opening session will return Saturday morning at 9:30 for the championship semifinals on two mats and consolation quarterfinals on a third mat. Consolation semifinals will follow a Class AAA session.
The evening timetable shows consolation finals in both classes at five o’clock, the Parade of Champions at approximately 6:30 and then the championship finals on two mats.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for students per session.
Complete brackets can be found here courtesy of Bob Imhof and the Ridgway Wresting site: http://www.ridgwaywrestling.com/2014_Districts_AA.html