HERSHEY — A second appearance in the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships for Curwensville Area High School sophomore Blake Passarelli turned out to be frustrating and disappointing.
The Golden Tide 113-pounder was unable to match last year’s 1-2 showing as he bowed out with two losses in the opening session of the 80th annual state tourney inside the Giant Center Thursday.
Passarelli, who placed third in District 9 and fourth in the Northwest Region, never could ignite any offense against taller opponents.
He was decisioned 6-1 by Southwest Region sixth placer Bryan Gaul of Burrell and 8-0 by D-9 champ and NW runner-up Keelan Kunselman of Brookville.
In the preliminary round match, Gaul got in on a double-leg shot and eventually gained control for an early takedown.
Passarelli chose the bottom for the second period, and Gaul immediately laced a leg and worked a crossface cradle for a near fall to open a 5-0 lead.
Gaul quickly broke away in the third period for the final point as Passarelli was unable to penetrate his defense.
“The kid was a good head taller than Blake,” Curwensville coach Dean Swatsworth said. “When Blake’s on the bottom, he’s so compacted and the kid just kept cradling him with those long arms.”
It was unfortunate for Passarelli to get paired against the rangier Kunselman in the consolation first round.
“That’s the one we didn’t want,” Swatsworth said.
The Raider senior was coming of a tough 2-1 first round loss to Richie Markulics of Notre Dame-Green Pond in a duel of returning placewinners and had registered one-sided decisions against the Golden Tide lightweight in their previous two matches at district tourneys.
Kunselman, who was fifth at 106 last year, took command early with a takedown.
“He got in on a low single and went right to a cradle and put Blake on his back,” Swatsworth said. “When you get down that many points, it’s tough to come back. It can be done, but not very often down here.
Kunselman received two penalty points before escaping in the middle period.
Passarelli (29-8) opted for neutral in the third period but couldn’t avert the shutout.
“That kid’s good and you can’t take anything away from him,” Swatsworth said. “But I’m proud of Blake. He had a good season.
“He’s made it down here twice and he’s only a sophomore, so he’s got two years to better himself. We thought we’d have a little different turnout than last year. We’ve just to go back and keep trying to fix what we need to fix.”
Passarelli will take a 58-18 career record into his junior season.
Six of the 19 qualifiers representing District 9 advanced to the championship quarterfinals that will begin on three of the six mats at nine o’clock Friday morning.
Still in the gold medal hunt are Gavin Park (120), Caleb Hetrick (152) and Xavier Molnar (195) of Brookville, Anthony Glasl (106) of Brockway, Logan McClain (138) of Ridgway and Gage Arnold (160) of Coudersport.
The second round of wrestle backs will run concurrently with Kunselman one of nine D-9 hopefuls. He’ll be joined by Brookville teammates Noah Cieleski (182) and Tyler Cook (220), Ridgway’s Kyle Bush (113) and Colton McClain (285), Bradford’s Tyler Thompson (132), Cranberry’s Josh Hancock (145) and Kane’s Adam Hulings (152).
The NW Region also boasts 21 quarterfinalists, seven from Reynolds, and 10 consolation contenders from District 10.
Reynolds, which also has three wrestlers in the consolations, leads the team race with 39.5 points. Brookville is third with 23.
The morning session will conclude with the third round of consolations, and all survivors will return for the semifinals and consy quarterfinals at 7:30 with the consy semifinals to follow.
Complete results can be found by clicking here, courtesy PA-Wrestling.com website.