9 local wrestlers look to shine in Hershey

Mar. 12—Ross Dull and Luke Moore don’t always generate headlines for the Chestnut Ridge wrestling team.

It’s not always easy to stand out in a program that’s been as talented as the Lions over the past few years. After all, the Lions have produced state champions Justin McCoy and Jared McGill and state runner-up Calan Bollman, but this is the time for Dull and Moore to shine.

The Chestnut Ridge juniors are two of the wrestlers from The Tribune-Democrat’s coverage area who will hit the mats on Friday for the PIAA Class 2A Wrestling Championships in Hershey.

“I feel like I’ve been under the radar a little bit,” said Moore, a 152-pounder who is 72-39 in his varsity career. “I feel I should get a little more recognition for what I’ve been able to accomplish.”

Dull, a 126-pounder who is 81-30, said he never really thought of it as being in the shadows of the top Lions.

“I guess kind of because Jared and Justin (and two-time state medalist) Connor Buttry, they were all great wrestlers,” he said. “I talk to all of them all the time. I try to be as great as they were, so it doesn’t bother me.”

Moore and Dull each reached the state tournament last season, but didn’t earn a medal.

They don’t need to worry about that this time around. In an effort to limit the amount of wrestlers and spectators at the Giant Center, the PIAA extended the postseason by a week, but is only bringing eight wrestlers in each weight to Hershey.

That means that all of the wrestlers competing this weekend are state medalists.

“It does ease a little bit of pressure,” Moore said. “Now that I’ve got the medal secured, I can go out there and not worry about little things. I can wrestle my best and let it all on the mat.”

After finishing one victory short of a medal last season, Dull is pleased to know he’ll be on the podium this time.

“It definitely hurt losing in the blood round. Knowing I have a medal, it won’t hurt as bad (if I lose), but I don’t want to go in knowing I’ve already placed,” he said, noting that he might have relaxed too much at the super regional tournament after he clinched a spot in Hershey. “I want to wrestle to the best of my ability.”

A look at the quarterfinal matches for local wrestlers:

120-West-1 Mason Gibson, Bishop McCort Catholic, Fr., 19-0 vs. East-4 Ethan Kolb, Benton, So., 19-8 — After twice beating two-time state champion Gary Steen of Reynolds in the past six months, Gibson is the favorite to win a top-heavy weight class.

Gibson’s 5-1 victory over Steen at the super regional was a big one, as it means that Steen will need to go through East champion Brett Ungar of Notre Dame Green Pond. Steen and Ungar split a pair of regular-season meetings last season but Steen, a Penn State recruit, beat the former 2019 New Jersey state champion in ultimate tiebreaker in the PIAA semifinals.

126-W-4 Ross Dull, Chestnut Ridge, Jr., 21-7 vs. E-1 Scott Johnson, Muncy, 26-4 — Dull is no stranger to tough competition. Last season, he faced Forest Hills’ Jackson Arrington, a 2019 PIAA champ, twice and two-time titlist Ryan Crookham of Notre Dame Green Pond.

While they don’t share any common opponents, Johnson has a pair of victories this season over Mifflinburg’s Gabe Gramly, who beat Dull last season.

132-W-1 Jackson Arrington, Forest Hills, Jr., 26-0 vs. E-4 Cade Wirnsberger, Meadowbrook Christian, So., 26-10 — This is a rematch of their Powerade semifinal from January. As in almost every match he’s wrestled this season, Arrington dominated. The North Carolina State recruit won by technical fall, 23-8.

Arrington has been one of the state’s most impressive wrestlers this season at any weight and in any division. He has scored bonus points in 25 of his 26 bouts — a 10-5 victory over Hempfield Area’s Briar Priest is the only outlier — and only three others have lasted a full six minutes with him.

It’s hard to see anyone, including East champion Brandon Chletsos of Notre Dame Green Pond stopping Arrington from claiming a second state title.

145-W-3 Cooper Warshel, Richland, Sr., 19-2 vs. E-2 Nathan Higley, Sullivan County, Sr., 25-1 — These two met in the PIAA quarterfinals last season, with Higley coming away with a 13-3 victory. Higley is a two-time state placewinner who recently committed to Division I George Mason.

This is probably the deepest bracket in 2A, with all eight wrestlers having previously earned state medals. A loaded weight class is nothing new to Warshel, whose West bracket left two-time medalist and 150-match winner Tyler Cymmerman of Derry Area sitting at home as a fifth-place finisher.

The Richland senior faced eventual state champ Gage McClenahan of Bald Eagle Area three times last season on his way to an eighth-place finish in Hershey.

152-W-2 Connor Yoder, North Star, Fr., 19-8 vs. E-3 Dalton Gimbor, Hamburg, Sr., 23-1 — Yoder turned in an impressive performance last weekend, knocking off Northwest Regional champion Jack Rimpa of Fort LeBoeuf and avenging a District 5 finals loss to Chestnut Ridge’s Luke Moore.

Gimbor presents another challenge. A PIAA medalist in 2019, Gimbor has 145 career victories and was unbeaten this season prior to his 4-3 loss to eventual East champion Devon Deem of Montgomery last week.

E-2 Michael Duggan, Boiling Springs, So., 23-3 vs. W-3 Luke Moore, Chestnut Ridge, Jr., 22-5 — There’s little common ground between these two state qualifiers from 2020.

They only have three common opponents over their careers, with the major difference being results against Thomas Spirk. Moore beat the Saucon Valley wrestler 10-4 last season while Duggan was pinned by the then-senior.

Laurel’s Grant MacKay, the top-ranked title contender, likely awaits the victor in the semifinals.

160-W-4 Ryan Weyandt, Forest Hills, Sr., 26-5 vs. E-1 Holden Garcia, Notre Dame Green Pond, So., 14-0 — Garcia made a big jump in weight — from 138, where he was one victory short of a PIAA medal last season — and will provide a difficult first-round test for Weyandt, a Lock Haven recruit.

Weyandt would have been in a different spot in the bracket if not for a desperation headlock by Carlynton’s Oleg Melnyk at the end of their super regional consolation final. It was Melnyk’s second buzzer-beating victory over Weyandt in as many weeks.

Weyandt will be looking to replicate last season’s performance in Hershey, where he went from a fifth-place finish in the Southwest Region to a fifth-place finish in the 20-man PIAA bracket.

189-E-1 Cael Crebs, Montoursville, Sr., 31-1 vs. W-4 Ian Eckenrode, Cambria Heights, Sr., 18-3 — Nothing has come easily for Eckenrode, so perhaps it’s fitting that he faces the title favorite in the first round.

The Highlander lost in the first round at the Southwest Regional, then won three consecutive bouts to place third. Last week, he again lost his opener and was seconds away from the end of his high school career when he dramatically reversed and pinned Quaker Valley’s Patrick Cutchember on his way to a fourth-place finish. — Stephens will be looking to close out a stellar high school career in style after a difficult senior year. A mysterious illness forced him to miss much of the season.

Until his first loss at the Southwest Regional, the two-time PIAA medalist from Meyersdale was considered the favorite to win a state title. Robell flew under the radar a bit more, as he was a state qualifier at 182 pounds as a freshman last season. How he contends with the Columbia recruit’s size could be the key to the first-round match.

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