SHARON – Hoping the third time is the charm, Curwensville Area High School senior 132-pounder Jake Keller got off to a solid start in the 2012 Northwest Region Class AA Wrestling Tournament with a first-period fall, while teammate Brad Stubbs was unable to get into his offense in his first visit to Sharon High School Friday evening.
Keller, a three-time District 9 champion who has fallen short of qualifying for the state tournament in his first two appearances, needed only 1:16 to pin Jimmy Miller of Brookville after receiving a bye for the preliminary round.
Miller, who lasted 3:15 when the two met in a Jan. 26 dual meet, had advanced with a 4-1 win over Sharpsville’s Joey Pagliaroli in a match between district fourth placers.
Keller (33-2) will get another much-anticipated bout with Cochranton senior Matt Bryer (34-2) in the semfinals Saturday morning.
Bryer has won all three previous meetings, 7-4, 3-2 and 4-1.
The one-pointer was for third place in the 2011 region tourney and a trip to Hershey, with a controversial takedown at the buzzer deciding the outcome.
On Jan. 28, they tangled in the semifinals of the Fred Bell Tournament at Grove City for the second year in a row and were locked in a 1-1 stalemate until Bryer engineered a takedown with seven seconds remaining.
The winner will go for the gold against either four-time D-10 champ and three-time PIAA placewinner Dylan D’Urso (34-1) of Reynolds or D-10 third placer Nick Floch (35-5) of Jamestown.
Stubbs, a junior in his first full season of wrestling, was shut out 6-0 by Nate Conti of Fort LeBoeuf in the prelims and will have to go against D-10 champ Jeff Burger of Union City in
The only D-9 champions who won’t be joining Keller in the semfinals Saturday morning are 170-pounder Alex Gular of Port Allegany and 220-pounder Zach Brinkley of Brockway.
Gular, a junior who also is a three-time district titlist, suffered an eye injury in the first period of his quarterfinal bout with Weston Stafford of Cambridge Springs and dropped an 8-4 decision to the District 10 third placer.
Brinkley, a senior, had the misfortune of bumping into two-time state placewinner Matt Mongera of Seneca and was pinned in 1:38. Mongera placed third in one of D-10’s loaded weight classes.
Heavyweight Jeff Burger of Union City was the lone D-10 champ to falter. D-10 fifth placer Sam Breese of Lakeview pinned him in 3:03 after slipping past D-9 runner-up Lee Russell of Cranberry 2-1 via the ultimate tiebreaker.
Full results courtesy Bob Imhoff and Bob’s Corner: http://crossfacewrestling.net/Documents/2012%20Northwest%20Regional%20Tournament%20Brackets%20to%20Semi%20Finals.pdf