Editor’s Note: The preview reflects the coaches who returned questionnaires to D9and10Sports.com.
Brockway Rovers (9-6 dual meet record)
Like all head coaches in the district, the Rovers’ Eric Grecco will be trying to navigate his squad through the dual challenges of COVID and the PIAA’s reduction in the number of weight classes. Grecco’s most immediate concern is his squad’s conditioning after the three week layoff necessitated by Governor Wolf’s recent coronavirus mitigation measures. He’ll then attempt to guide his wrestlers to the most appropriate weight so as to get all into the starting line-up if possible. Returning to the Rovers’ will be senior Noah Bash (27-12), a state qualifier last season at 160 pounds, and junior Mark Palmer (15-8), a regional qualifier last season at 120 pounds and a state qualifier as a freshman. Other key returnees include senior Weston Smith (10-14 at 195/182 pounds), junior Garrett Park (10-12 at 138 pounds), and sophomore Seth Stewart (21-11 at 170 pounds). Freshman Weston Pisarchick, Dylan Bash, and Jack Smith are expected to make an impact. All qualified for junior high states last season, with Pisarchick coming away with a medal. Grecco will be assisted by Jason Bash, Bruce Grecco, Curtis Markle, Jesse Wolfe, and Josh Inzana.
Brookville Raiders (24-4 dual meet record)
The Raiders have won the District 9 team championship the past seven consecutive years. With that competition in limbo this season, however, head coach Dave Klepfer’s goal will be trying to advance as many grapplers through the postseason as possible. The Raiders have three state place winners returning to the line-up; junior Owen Reinsel (37-7), fourth at states and 113 pound district champion, senior Nathan Taylor (38-7), fourth at states and 220 pound district champion, and senior Cayden Walter (33-8), sixth at states and 106 pound district champion. The line-up will also feature 160 pound regional qualifier Wyatt Griffin (19-11), a senior, Josh Popson (18-20 at 132/126 pounds), a junior, and Jared Popson, a freshman. Klepfer consistently has one of the larger squads in the district so there is some concern that this year’s reduction in weight classes might potentially result in a strong grappler missing a season of competition. Assistant coaches include Mick Stormer, Eli Morres, Garret Hurd, and Andy Viglione.
Clarion Bobcats (1-8 dual meet record; co-ops with Clarion-Limestone, Keystone, North Clarion, and Union)
Lee Weber takes over the Bobcats this season with the goal of improving his team’s passion for the sport. One of Weber’s goals is to help his wrestlers improve their technique and find a style that individually suits them. He believes once his squad gains confidence through progression training they will see improvement and the program will catch fire. Weber will have two regional qualifiers in his ine-up; seniors Cutter Boggess (19-12 at 170/160 pounds) and Zack Keihl (6-8 at 120 pounds). Other returners include senior Peyton Means (3-7 at 160/152 pounds), junior Breckin Rex (5-10 at 145 pounds), and junior Caleb Edmonds (3-10 at 152/145 pounds). Contributions could also come from freshmen Brock Champluvier, who placed fifth at junior high states last year, and Josh Beal. Assisting Weber this season will be Rob Sintobin.
Coudersport Falcons (6-14 dual meet record)
Coudy head coach Tom Storey will be looking for his team to improve every day, especially as wrestling has always been a hard sport and becoming more so in this day and age. He described his charges as dedicated, among them senior Cale Ayers (26-4), a two-time regional qualifier (last year at 220 pounds), sophomores James Culvey (7-18 at 132/126 pounds) and Wyatt Daisley (8-18 at 113 pounds), and freshman Gavyn Ayers. Storey is assisted by Dave Keech.
Curwensville Golden Tide (11-10 dual meet record)
Though head coach Dean Swatsworth’s squad is bigger this season so he is hoping they can match up at better during duals. The goal is always for each wrestler to maximize his potential and get to the next level. He believes this can be accomplished if his grapplers show up day-after-day, match-after-match, pushing themselves and their teammates to improve. Swatsworth has two returning regional qualifiers on his roster; senior Jake McCracken (24-9), district champ at 170 pounds, and junior Jake Carfley (27-12 at 106 pounds). Freshman Logan Aughenbaugh will be joining the varsity. Eddy’s assistant coaches include Johnny Sutika, Chris McCracken, and Ryan Aughenbaugh.
Johnsonburg Rams (17-7 dual meet record)
Head coach Mike Votano has an experienced team of talented wrestlers that will be looking to use last season as a springboard to success this campaign. Votano thinks he will have six wrestlers in his line-up capable of winning individual district championships, particularly if they achieve his aim of improving 1% ech day. Returning to the Rams line-up will be three state qualifiers; senior Cole Casilio (38-6), district runner-up at 160 pounds, senior Dalton Stahli (27-13), district runner-up at 138 pounds, and sophomore Aiden Zimmerman (33-9), district champion at 152 pounds. The Rams will feature several other regional qualifiers, including: senior Nolan Shaffer (34-7), district runner-up at 132 pounds, senior Isaac Zimmerman (29-12), district semifinalist at 170 pounds, sophomore Kaden Dennis (30-10), district runner-up at 145 pounds, and sophomore Wyatt Shaffer (29-11 at 113/106 pounds), district runner-up at 106 pounds. Seniors Cole Norlin (14-15 at 126 pounds) and Cole Haight (2-0 at 160/145 pounds), junior Collin Porter (18-14 at 120 pounds), sophomore Rayce Milliard (4-0 at 126 pounds), and freshman Aiden Bitler. Assistant coaches are Dylan Nelson, Eric Iorfido, Dane Condino, and Preston Mahoney.
Port Allegany Gators (14-3 dual meet record; co-op with Smethport)
The Gators have been district runner-ups in the team championships the past two seasons and are returning 10 starters from last year’s squad. Leading the way will be two-time district champion and state qualifier Braedon Johnson, a senior who went 28-7 at 126 pounds last year. This season he has the chance to become only the fourth grappler in program history to qualify for states three times. Also in the line-up will be regional qualifiers Justin Young (17-7), district runner-up at 220 pounds, Isaiah Caden (27-9 at 132 pounds), and Derek Kallenborn (19-13 at 195 pounds). All are seniors. Young is three pins away from cracking the program’s top 10. With the distractions this year has provided, head coach Bradley Greenman seeing staying focused as perhaps being something of a challenge. Having an experienced group that has been in big matches and knows what it takes to compete will help keep the team on track. This has manifested itself in many of his athletes having purchases equipment so that they could workout at home. Greenman will be assisted by Chad Saltsman, Adam Greenman, Nate Schwab, and Nick Budd.
Bradford Owls (4-6 dual meet record)
Head coach Jamey Miller’s squad is going to be a bit smaller than anticipated due to several grapplers opting out due to COVID-19 concerns. The focus will be on preparing for the postseason, where several Owl wrestlers had success last season, perhaps none more so than sophomore Lucas Laktash (29-9). Laktash, now a sophomore, was district champion at 126 pounds during his inaugural varsity campaign. Another regional qualifier in Miller’s line-up will be junior Brett Thompson (21-9), who qualified at 132 pounds. Miller will be also counting upon senior Drake Hayden (22-14 as he descended from 152 to 145 pounds), junior Devan Poe (6-12 during his drop from 113 to 106 pounds), and freshman Luke Kerr. Assistant coaches are Markie Havers and Ryan Mongillo.
DuBois Beavers (9-2 dual meet record)
The DuBois season is going to depend, according to head coach Ed Scott, on the leadership of his eight returning starters, two of who were state qualifiers a year ago. Senior Chandler Ho (31-14 at 138 pounds) not only qualified for states in 2019-2020 he came away from Hershey with an eighth place medal. Ho also qualified for states as a sophomore and was a district champion during his freshman year. Senior Garrett Starr (21-11 at 182 pounds), a regional qualifier the past two seasons, made his first trip to states a year ago. Returning regional qualifiers Scott will be counting upon are senior Kam Stevenson (12-18 at 113/120 pounds), a two-timer at that tournament, and juniors Brendan Orr (25-12), last year’s district champion at 113 pounds, Austin Mitchell (20-15 at 145 pounds), and Ryan White (13-16 at 170 pounds). The two other returning starters are Ryan Gildersleeve (6-6 at 145/152 pounds) and Cadin Delany (9-16 at 126 pounds). Scott will count on this core group to set the tone for a host of grapplers attempting to crack the varsity line-up, including junior Andrea Wilmoth; sophomores Kamron Knisley, Cooper Harris, Aubrey Donahue, Alison Young, and Abby Klaiber; and freshmen Davey Augenbaugh, Zach Gallagher, Ja’Reese Stowe, and Kaden Clark. Wilmoth is a multiple-time Pennsylvania state girls medalist, finish third at the female tournament last season. Scott’s assistants are Denny Nosker, Garret Brown, and Tony Geer.
Punxsutawney Chucks (1-14 dual meet record; co-op with Purchase Line)
Head coach Eric Eddy’s goal is to have his team compete the best they can in the current situation, noting some of his student-athletes have chosen to sit out due to family health concerns and everything else is day-to-day. Fortunately, the athletes he does have are self-driven and hard working. Eddy will have a duo of two-time regional qualifiers in the line-up, seniors Garrett Eddy (21-6), also the district champ last year at 195 pounds, and Josh Miller (11-15), who qualified at 182 pounds. Sophomore Brady Smith (20-8) made his first trip to regionals last year, doing so at 132 pounds. Grant Miller (14-12 at 160 pounds), a sophomore, will benefit from the experience he gained during his first varsity campaign. Eddy believes freshman Dysen Gould has the potential to make an impact this season. Assistant coaches are DJ Gould and Joel Bowers.
St. Marys Flying Dutchmen (7-7 dual meet record; co-op with Elk County Catholic)
With some of the changes to the typical season schedule this year, head coach Dom Surra recognizes there might not be a team tournament in the offing. Despite this, Surra’s focus with the Dutchmen will be around a team model. To this end, one of his goals is to fill as many weight classes as possible to avoid giving away points during duals. Surra has a number of wrestlers with varsity experience returning to his line-up, as well as some young wrestler he hopes grasp the high school learning curve quickly enough to make some noise. Returning regional qualifiers in the St. Marys’ line-up are seniors Jeremy Garthwaite (27-7 at 195 pounds), Nick Crisp (12-4 at 160 pounds), Raivis Bobby (14-13 at 170 pounds); junior Lane Dellaquila (12-15 at 132 pounds); and sophomore Isaac Dellaquila (12-14 at 120 pounds). Garthwaite was a district runner-up last year and won districts as a sophomore. Crisp and Lane Dequilla are also two-time regional qualifiers. Senior Marco Paropacic, a regional qualifier as a freshman and sophomore, will be returning to the Dutchmen line-up after not wrestling last year. Other returners of note are junior Kaden Snelick (3-11 primarily at 152 pounds) and sophomores Logan Mosier (3-7 at 138 pounds) and Waylon Wehler (15-6 at 182 pounds). Newcomers include sophomores Cole Neil and Beau Azzato and freshmen Andrew Wolfanger and Tristian Dilley. Surra’s assistants are Adam Resch, Pat Herzing, and Brian Fenton.