HYDE – The Battling Bison will return to the mat this Saturday in the District 4/9 AAA Championships. In a winner moves on, loser goes home tournament, 13 Bison wrestlers will fight to place in the top four in the Arthur J. Weiss Gymnasium at the Clearfield Area High School.
The Bison have 10 wrestlers ranked in the top four of their respective weight classes, and others could make a move. Of the 10 wrestlers, three earned number one seeds.
Seniors Johnathan Thomas (9-2) and Avry Gisewhite (15-15) both earned the top seeds at the bookend weight classes, 106 and 285. Meanwhile, freshman talent Mark McGonigal (25-7) earned the top seed at 152 pounds after wrestling the entire season at 160.
Johnathan Thomas earned the top seed at 106 after missing half of the season cutting weight. He wrestled the 2017-2018 season at 113 and did not participate in districts. He did meet Cranberry’s second seeded Jacob Umstead (19-6) in the team districts held less than a month ago, where he took Umstead down multiple times and pinned him in 5:13.
Though the Bison have a solid shot at taking the team title this year, they will have to get through other teams including DuBois, Selinsgrove, Williamsport, Shikellamy, Punxsutawney and more. DuBois has the most top seeded wrestlers with four returning district champions, while Selinsgrove has three top dogs of their own.
While DuBois may have more top seeds than Clearfield, they only have one number two seed wrestler at heavyweight. If that finals match happens, the team championship could come down between Avry Gisewhite and DuBois’ Alex O’Harah (22-8). Gisewhite beat O’Harrah in the regular season dual meet, but O’Harrah is known for his dangerous throws he attempts throughout his wrestling matches.
And don’t worry, perennial D9 teams like Saint Marys and Bradford, returning after a stint in AA, are still in the mix as well. Mark McGonigal could end up facing off against Saint Marys’ Johnny Wittman in the district finals. Wittman earned the number two seed with a 17-8 record, though the two have not met against each other.
Seniors Jude Pallo (18-7) and Caleb Freeland (23-8) each earned the second seed this year at 138 and 145, respectively. Pallo may meet up against DuBois’ Ed Scott (29-0) in the finals, currently ranked as high as second in the state, while Freeland would meet DuBois’ Dalton Woodrow if he made it to the finals. Both Scott and Woodrow are previous Northwest Region Champions and multiple time District 4/9 Champions.
The freshman duo of Nolan Barr (17-12) and Karson Kline (21-13) both earned the third seeds at 113 and 120 pounds. Barr could have a rematch against Selinsgrove’s Aiden Gaugler in the semi-finals, in a match he narrowly lost in team districts. Kline may wrestle Wilson’s Riley Bower (29-8) in his semi-finals match.
Three other wrestlers earned the fourth seeds this year for the Bison. Junior Brett Zattoni (9-19) will wrestle at 170, while freshman Luke Freeland (18-14) and Oliver Billote (10-6) will compete at 126 and 195.
Rounding out the Bison are Nick Domico (12-8), ranked sixth at 182, Peyton Smay (6-18), also ranked sixth at 132 and Cole Smay (9-15), ranked seventh at 160 pounds.
Top seeds looking to repeat this year are sophomore Chandler Ho (20-9) of DuBois at 120, junior Trenton Donahue (27-4) of DuBois at 126, junior Ed Scott (29-0) of Dubois at 138, senior Dalton Woodrow (27-3) of DuBois at 145, sophomore Coy Bastian (29-5) of Selinsgrove at 170, and sophomore Nate Schon (31-1) of Selinsgrove at 220.
Other top seeds are freshman Braden Bower (29-2) of Williamsport at 113, junior Cade Balestrini (26-2) of Shikellamy at 132, senior Anthony Robinson (29-7) of Wilson at 160, sophomore Garrett Eddy (22-8) of Punxsutawney at 182, and senior Blaise Zeiders (29-6) of Selinsgrove at 195.
Full brackets, courtesy of Flo Wrestling, can be found here.
Wrestling is set to begin at 9 am on Saturday morning. The preliminary round will be quickly wrestled and will work immediately into the quarterfinals. Then the semifinals will be wrestled at the same time a round of consolations are held. Two more rounds of consolations will be wrestled, including a fifth and sixth place round, since top-5 will advance to regionals.
The second session for wrestling will begin after the Parade of Champions and Hall of Fame Inductees are named at 4:15 PM. The finals and consi-finals will be held concurrently at approximately 4:45 PM. The Northwest Region Tournament will held at Altoona March 1-2.
Tickets will cost $3 per session for students and $6 for adults. Tickets can be purchased for both sessions at $6 for students and $12 for adults.