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Class AA Northeast Regional predictions
February 27, 2014 - Mitch Rupert
106: 1, Brian Courtney, Athens; 2, Brian Friery, Lewisburg; 3, Angelo Barberio, Muncy; 4, Josh Haley, Wyalusing.
Key to the weight: The biggest question is which Brian Friery is coming to the party Friday and Saturday night. Is it the Lewisburg wrestler who was undefeated heading into the district tournament, or the one who lost twice in the district tournament? Friery clearly didn't have a good weekend, but he's much better than what he showed. An injury to Meyers' Colin Pasone loosens up this weight a little bit, but not much. There are at least five wrestlers in this weight who could win matches in Hershey.
113: 1, Cameron Newman, Line Mountain; 2, Ethan Calkins, Troy; 3, Jordan Gessner, Lewisburg; 4, Eric Hunt, Warrior Run.
Key to the weight: Lewisburg's Jordan Gessner put together the best weekend of his career last week, taking Newman to the tie-break in overtime, then winning four consecutive matches to finish third. Watch for him to ride that wave of confidence and success into this week. Newman's opening-round matchup with Eric Hunt puts two state qualifiers against each other. Don't be surprised if Hunt can pull the upset, but Newman has been fantastic all year.
120: 1, Zack LeBarron, Warrior Run; 2, Tyrus Hamblin, Williamson; 3, Todd Lane, Southern Columbia; 4, Mike Stuart, Benton.
Key to the weight: Zack LeBarron entered the regional tournament a year ago undefeated but suffered a loss in the semifinals before finishing third. LeBarron is likely in store for another strong semifinal matchup with Southern Columbia freshman Todd Lane, who was a calf cramp away from potentially reaching last week's District 4 finals. Lane is one of the most talented freshmen in the district, but he'll likely have to beat state qualifiers LeBarron and Tyrus Hamblin (2012) to win a regional title.
126: 1, Lewis Williams, Central Columbia; 2, Charles Johnson, Wyoming Area; 3, Shawn Nitcznski, Sullivan County; 4, Brian LeBarron, Warrior Run.
Key to the weight: At this point, keep picking Lewis Williams until he proves you wrong. The junior has been stellar all season and three more wins this weekend puts him at 100 for his career. Williams won his three matches last week by a combined six points, so he knows how to win tight bouts. Wyoming Area's Charles Johnson has lost two of his four matches to state placewinners this year, so he's a legitimate threat in what was already a tight weight class. A state tournament-worthy wrestler is being left home after this weekend.
132: 1, Austin Harry, Lake-Lehman; 2, Keith Batkowski, Montoursville; 3, Zach Fry, Hughesville; 4, Collin Edsell, Wyalusing.
Key to the weight: District 2 always brings at least one slam dunk champion to the regional tournament, and Austin Harry is probably the closest thing District 2 has this year as a returning state fourth-place finisher. But it's hard to call Harry a slam-dunk champ with as well as Keith Batkowski has been wrestling. You can't forget Zach Fry and Collin Edsell are returning state qualifiers, either. Steve Shannon is a tremendous matchup problem for anyone who hasn't wrestled him before because of how he can score off his opponent's shots. Easily the most likely weight to bring home three medals from states.
138: 1, Kent Lane, Southern Columbia; 2, Trevor McWhorter, Williamson; 3, Nathan Jones, South Williamsport; 4, Cody Klinger, Bloomsburg.
Key to the weight: It took Kent Lane a little more effort than he probably would have liked to win a district championship last week, having to fight off his back early against Cody Klinger before scoring a fall in the third period while trailing. The junior looks to be healthy, though, following an injury which took away the final few weeks of his regular season. An opening-round matchup between Western Wayne's Morgan Fuller and Klinger will be crucial as to how this weight sets up.
145: 1, Billy Barnes, Williamson; 2, Dakota Nixon, Muncy; 3, Zack Bennett, Milton; 4, Sam Miller, Bloomsburg.
Key to the weight: As it was last week, it's still Billy Barnes and everybody else. Barnes may not revceive a real threat until the state semifinals, but there's a lot of work for the junior to do before he reaches that point. Dakota Nixon and Zack Bennett put on a great show in the semifinals last week and the two will likely meet again in the semifinals Saturday morning. Bloomsburg's Sam Miller is the darkhorse here, but he's more than capable of wrestling with anyone not named Billy Barnes, as his third-place finish last week illustrates.
152: 1, Cole Walter, Mifflinburg; 2, Blake Marks, Southern Columbia; 3, Dominic Vitale, Benton; 4, Austin Saxer, Northeast Bradford
Key to the weight: This is another weight class capable of producing three state medalists. Cole Walter took advantage of Blake Marks being a little hesitant in their second meeting. Marks got Walter in a hole in their sectional final by being aggressive on his feet and trying to make things happen. If he gets back to that, he's got a shot to win the regional title. Don't sleep on Northeast Bradford's Austin Saxer who threw Walter to his back in the closing seconds of their semifinal match last week.
160: 1, Ryan Preisch, Milton; 2, Jeric Kasunic, Benton; 3, Nick Stephani, Troy; 4, Bobby Wright, Lake-Lehman.
Key to the weight: Nick Stephani was one of the three wrestlers last week to win three consecutive consolation matches to finish third in the District 4 tournament which is proof enough the junior is capable of not only qualifying for Hershey, but winning matches should he get there. Three of Bobby Wright's losses this year have come to either Class AAA 13th-ranked Cody Cordes of Wyoming Valley West or to top-ranked AA 160-pounder Kyle Bova of Coudersport. So the senior has been tested and is not an easy draw.
170: 1, Garrett Hoffman, Montoursville; 2, Alex Lieberman, Midd-West; 3, Brandon Conrad, Bloomsburg; 4, David Burke, Danville.
Key to the weight: Derek Dragon's out-pointed Garrett Hoffman for the top seed, but Hoffman is probably still the favorite to win the weight class. Dragon already lost this season to his first-round opponent, David Burke, 8-2. He's also previously lost to North Penn's Harvey Wood, Hoffman's first-round opponent. Brandon Conrad may pose the biggest threat to Hoffman as the two match up very well. Alex Lieberman is the only returning state qualifier in the weight class.
182: 1, Isaiah Bobotas, Montgomery; 2, Lucas Shaheen, Montoursville; 3, Matt Herr, Hughesville; 4, Brad Miccio, Benton.
Key to the weight: After a rough start to the season, Isaiah Bobotas has proven in the last two weeks he was worthy of the No. 2 ranking in the preseason polls. He's proven he can beat anybody in the weight class, but Lake-Lehman's Brady Butler is a new opponent on par with the rest of the field. Brad Miccio has a 49-56 career record, but has been a state-level wrestler all year, as his run to last week's district final proves. But his road to the regional final could be a little tougher with 29-6 Claise Cleveland in the first round and either Butler or Lucas Shaheen potentially in the finals.
195: 1, Garrett Wesneski, Canton; 2, Logan Womelsdorf, Benton; 3, Austin Swoyer, Western Wayne; 4, Brandon Stokes, Milton.
Key to the weight: Garrett Wesneski may have been the only wrestler upset to win a District 4 championship last week. The senior was unhappy with his performance in the final against Benton's Logan Womelsdorf, but if that's the lone hiccup of his postseason, then he'll be just fine. Brandon Stokes looked stellar in his third-place finish just over a month removed from a broken collarbone which robbed him of a month of his season. The sophomore has to be taken seriously, even in a potential semifinals against Wesneski.
220: 1, Dylan Otis, Wyalusing; 2, Zac Faust, GAR; 3, Ethan Barnes, Hughesville; 4, Ben Cerney, Montoursville.
Key to the weight: Zac Faust is ranked 15th in the most recent state rankings, but by virtue of his 3-2 loss to Dylan Otis earlier this year, the rest of the field better be ready for a battle from the junior. The loss to Otis was his only setback so far this year, and he's had just four bouts go the full six minutes since the start of the new year. Ethan Barnes and Connor Route split a pair of matchups last week, with Barnes winning the third-place consolation match. Neither of the two seniors have ever been to the state tournament, but are threats for one of the three transfor spots along with Montoursville's Ben Cerney and Scranton Prep's Thor Balavage.
285: 1, Dalton Chilson, Wyalusing; 2, Jordan Troup, Bloomsburg; 3, Garrett Pratt, Towanda; 4, Saul Wilkins, GAR.
Key to the weight: The last wrestler to beat Wyalusing's Dalton Chilson? His first-round opponent Garret Pratt. It's a pivotal match in this wide-open bracket as the winner sets themselves up for a run to the final. Line Mountain freshman Garrett Kieffer was brilliant in his run to the finals, but he faces a much tougher road to get back there this week. Jordan Troup suffered his only two losses of the season last week to Chilson and Dylan Brennan, but the junior has a favorable draw in the bottom half of the bracket.
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