Bison Send Big Three, Plus One, to Northwest Regional Semifinals – Team Tied for Third

Dylan Graham (Photo by Jessica Shirey)

ALTOONA — All year long, the senior trio of Dylan Graham, Christian Stone, and Nolan Barger have been piling up the wins; and Friday night at the PIAA AAA Northwest Regional Wrestling Tournament at the Altoona Fieldhouse was no different for the Bison standouts as each reached the semifinals. This time, though, the big three was joined in the semifinals by a surprise in Jake Verchick at 285. Verchick wrestled most of the year at 182 for the Bison, but moved up to heavyweight for the post season – and has not disappointed!

The Bison are tied for third in the team race with Central Mountain with 34.5 points. General McLane sits atop the standings with 53 points, followed by Erie McDowell with 48.5.

Graham (30-4) at 126 received a surprise forfeit in the opening round and then beat the District 6 champion Noah Stewart (29-6) of Mifflin County by a score of 5-2. Graham’s semifinal opponent will be the District 10 champion DJ Fehlman (31-1) from Warren. A trip to the finals for Graham could set up a fourth match on the season with Punxsutawney freshman Kaleb Young, as Young has shut out two opponents thus far.

At 132, Stone (32-1) picked up two falls in a total time of 3:01 to set up a semifinal match with the District 6 runner-up, Lucas Besch (25-10) of Mifflin County. Stone wasted little time in his opening round match by making short work of Titusville’s Dalton Burns (16-13) in 0:45. Then Stone needed 2:16 in the quarterfinals to dispose of Central Mountain’s Jacob Watt (17-16).

Nolan Barger (33-1) continued his roll through the post season with a fall and a tech fall. Barger’s opening round match with BEA’s Dillon Kephart (14-14) lasted 4:51, while his quaterfinal match was over even quicker – a 17-1 tech fall over Alex Hargenrader (24-9) in 4:10. Barger will face Brian Estep (34-2), the District 8 champion from Allderdice in the semis.

Verchick (17-16), who has got to be the lightest heavyweight in the state still competing this far into the post season, scored two overtime wins to reach Saturday’s semifinals. His opening round match went to a fourth period, but Verchick needed just 16 seconds there to record a fall over General McLane’s Ian Mallory (21-15). The quarterfinal match took a bit longer as Verchick needed the ultimate tie-breaker to earn a 6-5 victory over Caleb Rhodes (15-13) of Mifflin County. Verchick will face the District 6 champion Matthew Barton (26-3) of Hollidaysburg in the semifinals.

The Bison sent an eight-man contingent to Altoona, and the four Bison semifinalists will be joined by their four teammates for a second day.

Freshman Logan Gilbert (23-13) was pinned in 1:47 in the first round by the District 6 champion Damian Huff (23-2) of Hollidaysburg. Gilbert then pinned the District 8 runner up Corey Bevan (6-9) in 39 seconds to advance to the next round of consies where he’ll face familiar foe Noah Ulmer (20-12) of Jeresy Shore. The two split their two bouts at last week’s District 4-9 meet, Gilbert winning in the opening round and Ulmer winning the consy final bout.

Fellow freshman Josiah McClarren (13-16) lost a tough 4-2 match in the opening round to Aaron Witherite (20-12) of Bellefonte. McClarren had a bye in the first round of consolations and will face Bald Eagle Area’s Travis Geidroc (23-10) in the second round.

Sophomore Noah Cline (24-12) at 120 picked up a first period fall in 1:53 over Philipsburg-Osceola’s Brain Descavish (13-15)  in his opening match, but was then shut out in the quarterfinals by Bellefonte’s District 6 champion Trevor Corl (26-2), 7-0. Cline will face Tyler Hepler (16-17) from Shikellamy on Saturday morning in a second round consolation bout.

At 152, junior Mike Beck (12-18) was pinned in 2:22 by Dan Krysiak (22-9) of Erie Cathedral Prep. Beck received a first round consolation bye and will face the District 9 champion Joshua Corignani (22-7) from Bradford in a second round consolation bout.

The second round of consolations begin at 10:00 Saturday morning and will be followed by the semifinals at approximately 12:30. The third round of consolations will be after the semis at about 3:00. The consolation finals are set for 6:00, while the Parade of Champons will commence at 6:45. The top three finishers in each weight class will qualify for the PIAA State Championships in Hershey, which begin on March 7.

Complete results courtest Escape Sports can be found here:

Team Standings courtesy the Altoona Mirror:

1. General McLane, GM, 53; 2. McDowel, MD, 48.5; 3. (tie) Central Mountain, CM, and Clearfield, CL, 34.5; 5. Cathedral Prep, CP, 34; 6. Mifflin County, MC, 32.5; 7. DuBois, D, 31.5; 8. (tie) Altoona, A, and Bellefonte, B, 24; 10. Bald Eagle Area, BEA, 23; 11. Shikellmay, SH, 20; 12. Jersey Shore, JS, 15; 13. (tie) Philipsburg-Osceola, PO and St. Marys, SM, 13; 15. Allderdice, AD, 12; 16. Hollidaysburg, H, 11; 17. Punxsutawney, PX, 10; 18. Oil City, OC, 9.5; 19. (tie) Meadville, MEAD, Selinsgrove, SE and Titusville, T, 9; 22. Williamsport, WP, 8; 23. Central Tech, CT, 7; 24. Warren, W, 6; 25. (tie) Carrick, CA, Strong Vincent, SV and Westinghouse, WE, 5; 28. (tie) Bradford, BRAD, Erie East, EE, Greater Johnstown, GJ and State College, SC, 4; 32. Brashear, BRAS, 2.



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