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Muncy’s Johnson claims NE Regional title in brutal 126-pound field

FRANK DIMON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Muncy's Scott Johnson spins behind Hanover Area's Cael Davis during the PIAA Class AA Northeast Regional tournament at Williamsport on Saturday.

Normally more stoic than a statue, not even a mask could hide the joy on the face of Muncy’s Scott Johnson.

Saturday’s win in the toughest bracket at the PIAA Class AA Northeast Regional was one the sophomore needed. It was validation of everything he’s believed about himself throughout his two years of varsity wrestling.

The returning state qualifier knocked off former state runner-up Kole Biscoe of Southern Columbia in the semifinals before beating second-ranked Gable Strickland of Benton in the 126-pound final Saturday. It was, without a doubt, the most impressive performance of the tournament, and maybe the most impressive of this postseason.

“I needed this,” Johnson said. “I’ve been working my butt off as hard as I possibly could to get this.”

Johnson was one of eight Sun-Gazette area wrestlers to claim championships at the Northeast Regional. Montoursville crowned four champions (Branden Wentzel at 106 pounds, Isaac Cory at 152, Cael Crebs at 189 and Dylan Bennett at 215) as the Warriors finished second in the team standings to Southern Columbia. Lewisburg’s Kaiden Wagner (132), Montgomery’s Conner Harer (138) and Sullivan County’s Nate Higley (145) also claimed titles.

Jersey Shore’s Brock Weiss (106), Meadowbrook Christian’s Cade Wirnsberger (132), Montgomery’s Devon Deem (152), Muncy’s Ethan Gush (172) and Hughesville’s Caleb Burkhart all finished second. And South Williamsport’s Bobby Gardner (113), Miton’s Kyler Crawford (145) and North Penn-Liberty’s Kohen Lehman (172) all finished third.

The top three finishers in each weight class advanced to next week’s East Super Regional tournament to be held Saturday at Pottsville’s Martz Hall. The top four finishers at Super Regionals advance to the eight-man state tournament brackets and are guaranteed a PIAA medal.

Johnson has been saying for the first two weeks of the postseason he felt he was capable of winning in a weight class which features four of the top six-ranked 126-pounders in the state. In the Central Section final he was in a dogfight with Strickland before losing, 6-4. Last week at the District 4 tournament the sophomore knocked off then third-ranked Gabe Gramly of Mifflinburg in the semifinals before falling to Strickland, 9-4, in the final.

But it was a pair of four-point moves Saturday which created space between Johnson and his opponents and ultimately led to his first career Northeast Region title. First it was a Peterson from the bottom position in a 2-2 match with Biscoe in the semifinals which set up his eventual 6-3 victory. Then it was coming out on top in a scramble with Strickland and putting the two-time state placewinner on his back in another 2-2 bout which led to his eventual 9-6 victory.

It was Johnson’s first win in four bouts against Strickland this season. It was also maybe the most important win of his career and one which will be noticed statewide.

“He’s a top-two guy in the state,” Johnson said. “I’m right there and I feel like I can compete for a state title.”

It’s not as if Johnson didn’t believe that were the case prior to Saturday’s outstanding performance. But believing something and watching that belief come to fruition are two entirely different things. His 3-0 day was validation for the work he’s put in and the belief he’s carried since that sectional final loss to Strickland.

Biscoe ended up being the odd man out in the bracket as the former state runner-up finished fourth and didn’t advance to the super regional. Gramly took third with a 3-1, overtime win over Biscoe. And the super regional bracket at 126 pounds is only going to get tougher as third-ranked Evan Maag of Notre Dame-Green Pond enters the mix after his surprising third-place finish in the Southeast Regional tournament Saturday. Former state qualifier Christian Doi of Camp Hill, who upset Maag and won the Southeast Region title, also enters the mix.

Only four of those wrestlers can advanced to the state tournament in Hershey in two weeks. But with his win Saturday, Johnson is carrying all the confidence he needs into the biggest tournament of his season.

As one of the youngest wrestlers in the bracket, Johnson knows he’s fighting an uphill battle, at times, against more seasoned wrestlers. All that washed away Saturday, though.

“I’ve seen Biscoe, Grramly and Gable going to states and placing at states and they’re always the top kids,” Johnson said. “It feels good knowing I can beat them. Hopefully there’s more winning to come.”

PIAA CLASS AA NORTHEAST REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

Team standings: 1. Southern Columbia, 111.5; 2. Montoursville, 84; 3. Benton, 75; 4. Muncy, 54.5; 5. Mifflinburg, 42.5; 6. Montgomery, 42; 7. Lewisburg, 36.5; t-8. Midd-West, 30; t-8. Wyoming Area, 30; t-8. Jersey Shore, 30; 11. Lackawanna Trail, 24; t-12. Athens, 21.5; t-12. Sullivan County, 21.5; 14. Warrior Run, 20; 15. Line Mountain, 19; 16. Hughesville, 18; 17. South Williamsport, 15.5; t-18. Milton, 15; t-18. Scranton Prep, 15; 20. Meadowbrook Christian, 14; t-21. North Penn-Liberty, 12; t-21. Mount Carmel, 12; t-23. Towanda, 10; t-23. Central Columbia, 10; 25. Danville, 9; 26. Bloomsburg, 8.5; 27. Lake-Lehman, 5.5; 28. Williamson, 4; t-29. Berwick, 3; t-29. Shamokin, 3; t-29. Western Wayne, 3; t-29. Canton, 3; t-29. Honesdale, 3; 34. Blue Ridge, 2; 35. Montrose, 1; t-36, Wyalusing, 0; t-36. Mountain View, 0; t-36. Troy, 0; t-36. Hanover Area, 0.

Team key: Athens, At; Benton, Be; Berwick, Bw; Bloomsburg, Bl; Blue Ridge, BR; Canton, Ca; Central Columbia, CC; Danville, Da; Hanover Area, HA; Honesdale, Ho; Hughesville, Hu; Jersey Shore, JS; Lackawanna Trail, LT; Lake-Lehman, LL: Lewisburg, Le; Line Mountain, LM; Meadowbrook Christian, MC; Midd-West, MW; Mifflinburg, Mf; Milton, Mi; Montgomery, Mg; Montoursville, Mt; Montrose, Mo; Mountain View, MV; Mount Carmel, MC; Muncy, Mu; North Penn-Liberty, NP; Scranton Prep, SP; Shamokin, Sh; South Williamsport, SW; Southern Columbia, SC; Sullivan County, Su; Towanda, To; Troy, Tr; Warrior Run, WR; Western Wayne, WW; Williamson, Wi; Wyalusing, Wy; Wyoming Area, WA.

Quarterfinals

106: Branden Wentzel, Mt, pinned Jace Gessner, Le, 3:08; Chase Burke, Be, tech. fall Lexi Schechterly, LL, 16-0, 2:35; Brock Weiss, JS, pinned Vinny Tomasetti, WW, 2:51; Nolan Baumert, LM, dec. Cole Henry, LT, 8-2.

113: Jaden Pepe, WA, dec. Wade Alleman, Sh, 8-1; Bobby Gardner, SW, tech. fall Liam Farley, WW, 19-2, 4:00; Kaden Milheim, WR, pinned Tristyn Bodie, Ho, 5:00; Gavin Bradley, At, tech. fall Brady Feese, SC, 21-6, 5:25.

120: Mason Barvitskie, SC, dec. Andrew Johnson, Da, 4-0; Kaden Majcher, WR, maj. dec. Jackson Maby, BR, 8-0; Ethan Kolb, Be, maj. dec. Drew Howell, Ho, 9-1; Caden Finck, Mg, dec. Max Bluhm, LT, 7-0.

126: Gable Strickland, Be, tech. fall Seth Seymour, Tr, 18-2, 3:32; Gabe Gramly, Mf, dec. Ethan Lee, LT, 3-0; Scott Johnson, Mu, tech. fall Cael Davis, HA, 17-2, 2:45; Kole Biscoe, SC, dec. Dylan Geertgens, Mo, 6-2.

132: Conner Heckman, MW, dec. Deegan Ross, LT, 7-5, sv; Kaiden Wagner, Le, pinned Nicolas Arcadipane, WW, 1:03; Bryce Vollman, Mu, pinned Mason Konigus, LL, 2:41; Cade Wirnsberger, MC, dec. Mason Leshock, LM, 2-1.

138: Kaden Setzer, At, dec. Antonio D’Apollonio, SP, 11-5; Robbie Schneider, LT, maj. dec. Hayden Ward, Ca, 11-2; Ian Yoder, SC, dec. Hunter Burke, LL, 7-3; Conner Harer, Mg, maj. dec. Logan Bartlett, Le, 16-3.

145: Nate Higley, Su, pinned Gabe Andrus, JS, 3:28; Kyler Crawford, Mi, pinned Michael Bluhm, LT, 1:26; Patrick Edmondson, SC, pinned Jake Leslie, WW, 1:24; Troy Bingaman, Mf, dec. Zach Stuart, LL, 5-0.

152: Devon Deem, Mg, pinned Nick Woodruff, Wy, 5:14; Josh Bonomo, LL, dec. Troy Johnson, CC, 9-4; Isaac Cory, Mt, tech. fall Nathan Ofalt, MV, 16-0, 3:31; Brandon Gedman, SC, dec. Cooper Price, WA, 4-3.

160: Nolan Lear, Be, maj. dec. Kaide Drick, Mg, 12-0; Ty Nixon, Mu, maj. dec. Seth Ross, LT, 12-4; Avery Bassett, MW, pinned Trystan English, Bw, 1:29; Garrett Garcia, SC, dec. Nick Zaboski, LL, 4-1.

172: Gavin Garcia, SC, pinned Colby Springman, Mg, 1:03; Stephen Roeder, Bl, tech. fall Jordan Williams, BR, 15-0, 4:55; Ethan Gush, Mu, pinned Paul Renner, Ho, :41; Kohen Lehman, NP, pinned Kody Cresswell, LT, 4:00.

189: Cael Crebs, Mt, pinned Ryan Casella, SW, :27; Jacob Feese, LM, pinned Mason Zajac, LT, 2:42; Wes Barnes, SC, pinned Zach Consla, BR, :14; Hayden Packer, JS, pinned Tim Dailey, Ho, 3:09.

215: Dylan Bennett, Mt, pinned Clay Watkins, To, 1:33; Damon Backes, MC, dec. Jonah Houser, LT, 3-2; Zach Poust, Be, tech. fall Derrick DeMann, Mo, 19-4, 4:44; Connor Wrobleski, WA, dec. Nathan Rauch, Mi, 5-3.

285: Emmanuel Ulrich, Mf, pinned Gunner Treibley, MC, 4:35; Kade Sottolano, Wi, pinned Bruce Hartman, Bw, 2:28; Caleb Burkhart, Hu, pinned Max Shnipes, SP, :35; Logan McWilliams, CC, dec. Thomas Flood, Western Wayne, 4-1.

Semifinals

106: Branden Wentzel, Mt, dec. Chase Burke, Be, 5-3; Brock Weiss, JS, pinned Nolan Baumert, LM, 2:41.

113: Jaden Pepe, WA, maj. dec. Bobby Gardner, SW, 12-4; Gavin Bradley, At, dec. Kaden Milheim, WR, 10-7.

120: Mason Barvitskie, SC, dec. Kaden Majcher, WR, 8-2; Ethan Kolb. Be, dec. Caden Finck, Mg, 3-1.

126: Gable Strickland, Be, dec. Gabe Gramly, Mf, 7-1; Scott Johnson, Mu, dec. Kole Biscoe, SC, 6-3.

132: Kaiden Wagner, Le, dec. Conner Heckman, MW, 4-2; Cade Wirnsberger, MC, dec. Bryce Vollman, Mu, 1-0.

138: Robbie Schneider, LT, pinned Kaden Setzer, At, :41; Conner Harer, Mg, tech. fall Ian Yoder, SC, 16-1, 5:39.

145: Nate Higley, Su, tech. fall Kyler Crawford, Mi, 17-2, 5:49; Patrick Edmondson, SC, tech. fall Troy Bingaman, Mf, 16-0, 5:10.

152: Devon Deem, Mg, pinned Josh Bonomo, LL, 5:14; Isaac Cory, Mt, dec. Brandon Gedman, SC, 4-2, sv.

160: Nolan Lear, Be, dec. Ty Nixon, Mu, 6-0; Avery Bassett, MW, dec. Garrett Garcia, SC, 7-2.

172: Gavin Garcia, SC, pinned Stephen Roeder, Bl, 3:34; Ethan Gush, Mu, dec. Kohen Lehman, NP, 8-1.

189: Cael Crebs, Mt, dec. Jacob Feese, LM, 9-2; Wes Barner, SC, dec. Hayden Packer, JS, 7-4.

215: Dylan Bennett, Mt, tech. fall Damon Backes, MC, 15-0, 3:44; Zach Poust, Be, dec. Connor Wrobleski, WA, 4-2, sv.

285: Emmanuel Ulrich, Mf, inj. def. Kade Sottolano, Wi, 1:34; Caleb Burkhart, Hu, pinned Logan McWilliams, CC, 4:35.

Consolation Quarterfinals

106: Jace Gessner, Le, maj. dec. Lexi Schechterly, LL, 14-2; Cole Henry, LT, pinned Vinny Tomasetti, WW, 4:05.

113: Wade Alleman, Sh, pinned Liam Farley, WW, 4:12; Brady Feese, SC, dec. Tristyn Bodie, Ho, 3-1.

120: Andrew Johnson, Da, dec. Jackson Maby, BR, 7-0; Max Bluhm, LT, dec. Drew Howell, Ho, 3-1.

126: Ethan Lee, LT, dec. Seth Seymour, Tr, 3-1; Dylan Geertgens, Mo, dec. Cael Davis, HA, 3-2.

132: Nicolas Arcadipane, WW, pinned Deegan Ross, LT, 3:26; Mason Leshock, LM, pinned Mason Konigus, LL, 1:22.

138: Hayden Ward, Ca, pinned Antonio D’Apollonio, SP, 4:44; Logan Bartlett, Le, pinned Hunter Burke, LL, 1:40.

145: Gabe Andrus, JS, dec. Michael Bluhm, LT, 3-1, sv; Zach Stuart, LL, dec. Jake Leslie, WW, 3-0.

152: Troy Johnson, CC, pinned Nick Woodruff, Wy, 2:35; Cooper Price, WA, pinned Nathan Ofalt, MV, :55.

160: Seth Ross, LT, dec. Kaide Drick, Mg, 7-5; Nick Zaboski, LL, tech. fall Trystan English, Bw, 18-1, 4:34.

172: Jordan Williams, BR, pinned Colby Springman, Mg, 2:05; Kody Cresswell, LT, dec. Paul Renner, Ho, 3-0.

189: Ryan Casella, SW, pinned Mason Zajac, LT, 2:20; Tim Dailey, Ho, pinned Zach Consla, BR, 2:34.

215: Clay Watkins, To, pinned Jonah Houser, LT, 4:39; Nathan Racuh, Mi, pinned Derrick DeMann, Mo, 3:43.

285: Bruce Hartman, Bw, pinned Gunner Treibley, MC, 3:43; Max Shnipes, SP, pinned Thomas Flood, WW, 3:30.

Consolation semifinals

106: Jace Gessner, Le, dec. Nolan Baumert, LM, 3-1; Chase Burke, Be, tech. fall Cole Henry, LT, 16-1, 4:54.

113: Kaden Milheim, WR, pinned Wade Alleman, Sh, :45; Bobby Gardner, SW, maj. dec. Brady Feese, SC, 14-3.

120: Andrew Johnson, Da, dec. Caden Finck, Mg, 8-2; Kaden Majcher, WR, maj. dec. Max Bluhm, LT, 15-4.

126: Kole Biscoe, SC, dec. Ethan Lee, LT, 5-0; Gabe Gramly, Mf, tech. fall Dylan Geertgens, Mo, 15-0, 1:51.

132: Bryce Vollman, Mu, pinned Nicolas Arcadipane, WW, 1:51; Conner Heckman, MW, dec. Mason Leshock, LM, 8-3.

138: Ian Yoder, SC, pinned Hayden Ward, Ca, 4:36; Logan Bartlett, Le, tech. fall Kaden Setzer, At, 15-0, 4:39.

145: Troy Bingaman, Mf, dec. Gabe Andrus, JS, 5-0; Kyler Crawford, Mi, dec. Zach Stuart, LL, 4-2.

152: Brandon Gedman, SC, dec. Troy Johnson, CC, 5-1, sv; Cooper Price, WA, pinned Josh Bonomo, LL, 2:52.

160: Garrett Garcia, SC, dec. Seth Ross, LT, 6-2; Ty Nixon, Mu, dec. Nick Zaboski, LL, 5-1.

172: Kohen Lehman, NP, dec. Jordan Williams, BR, 11-4; Stephen Roeder, Bl, dec. Kody Cresswell, LT, 7-3.

189: Hayden Packer, JS, pinned Ryan Casella, SW, 1:45; Jacob Feese, LM, pinned Tim Dailey, Ho, 3:24.

215: Clay Watkins, To, inj. def. Connor Wrobleski, WA, 4:41; Damon Backes, MC, dec. Nathan Rauch, Mi, 5-3.

285: Logan McWilliams, CC, dec. Bruce Hartman, Bw, 3-1; Max Shnipes, SP, won by forfeit Kade Sottolano, Wi.

Third-place consolations

(Winner advances to East Super Regional)

106: Chase Burke, Be, maj. dec. Jace Gessner, Le, 9-0.

113: Bobby Gardner, SW, dec. Kaden Milheim, WR, 5-1.

120: Andew Johnson, Da, dec. Kaden Majcher, WR, 6-2.

126: Gabe Gramly, Mf, dec. Kole Biscoe, SC, 3-1, sv.

132: Conner Heckman, MW, dec. Bryce Vollman, Mu, 3-2.

138: Ian Yoder, SC, dec. Logan Bartlett, Le, 5-2, tb.

145: Kyler Crawford, Mi, dec. Troy Bingaman, Mf, 3-2.

152: Cooper Price, WA. Dec. Brandon Gedman, SC, 2-0, sv.

160: Garrett Garcia, SC, dec. Ty Nixon, Mu, 4-3.

172: Kohen Lehman, NP, dec. Stephen Roeder, Bl, 8-4.

189: Jacob Feese, LM, dec. Hayden Packer, JS, 3-2.

215: Damon Backes, MC, pinned Clay Watkins, To, 4:51.

285: Max Shnipes, SP, pinned Logan McWilliams, CC, :33.

Championship final

(Both advance to East Super Regional)

106: Branden Wentzel, Mt, maj. dec. Brock Weiss, JS, 14-5.

113: Gavin Bradley, At, dec. Jaden Pepe, WA, 5-3.

120: Mason Barvitskie, SC, dec. Ethan Kolb, Be, 2-0.

126: Scott Johnson, Mu, dec. Gable Strickland, Be, 9-6.

132: Kaiden Wagner, Le, dec. Cade Wirnsberger, MC, 4-3.

138: Conner Harer, Mg, tech. fall Robbie Schneider, LT, 24-7, 4:59.

145: Nate Higley, Su, dec. Patrick Edmondson, SC, 3-2.

152: Isaac Cory, Mt, dec. Devon Deem, Mg, 7-2.

160: Avery Bassett, MW, dec. Nolan Lear, Be, 2-1, UTB.

172: Gavin Garcia, SC, maj. dec. Ethan Gush, Mu, 11-0.

189: Cael Crebs, Mt, dec. Wes Barnes, SC, 3-1.

215: Dylan Bennett, Mt, pinned Zach Poust, Be, 1:39.

285: Emmanuel Ulrich, Mf, pinned Caleb Burkhart, Hu, 1:49.

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