Dapper Dan Classic Preview – XVIII


Willie Saylor, Editor

For the 38th year, the folks in Western Pennsylvania will hold what has become a national tradition. Referred to as “The Rosebowl of Wrestling,” the Dapper Dan annually showcases some of the best individuals the USA and PA has to offer.

Not only are the participants here rewarded for their high school accomplishments, but the event also serves as a sort of prelude for the things to come for them as the approach their college careers.

The numbers are staggering; Dapper Dan alumni populate the All-American list of the NCAA DI Championships up and down the weights. Since the inception of the Wrestling Classic, in any year, and of the ten NCAA DI National Champions, an average of 3.65 of them came from the Dapper Dan.

This year three DD alum won titles: Logan Steiber (Class of 2010), Kellen Russell (’08), and David Taylor (’09). Three more, Nico Megaludis (’11), Jordan Oliver  and Quentin Wright (both ’08), gave the Wrestling Classic six of the twenty finalists. In total, 135 NCAA DI titles have been claimed by DD alumni, with the high-water mark of six individual titles in both 1996 and 2005.

In total, exactly one quarter, or 20 of the 80 NCAA Division I All Americans from St. Louis last week, competed at the Dapper Dan.

Here, we’ll highlight the credentials and the match-ups of this year’s dual, which should be another great event as we celebrate the careers of the top prep wrestlers in the country.

113 – Billy Rappo, Council Rock South, PA

2x State Champ

3x Placer

Fargo Finalist

2x Super32 Placer

Notes:  Billy cements his family’s legacy in becoming the 4th Rappo brother to wrestle in the event. Mark, Billy, and Mike all wrestled here in previous years.

113 – TOM #1 – Jarred Brooks, Warsaw, IN                                                Indiana Tech

State Champ

Fargo Finalist

Super32 Champ

Fila Runner-Up

Notes:  Brooks had a phenomenal year reaching the finals of multiple majors.

TOM Prediction:  Brooks is wrestling out of his mind right now. He’s quick, technical, and determined. Rappo should be right in the match, but Brooks gets the edge here.

USA 3-0

120 – TOM #2 – Nicky Roberts, North Star, PA                             Ohio State

3x State Champ

4x Placer (1-3-1-1)

Fargo Champ

2x Fila Champ

Notes:  Roberts had one of the most remarkable careers in PA small schools. In four years in Hershey he had just one loss (Zain Retherford). And his International Styles exploits is the best coming out of PA this year. He won double titles in Fargo  and both Fila Cadets and Juniors.

120 – TOM #1 – George DiCamillo, St. Ignatius                             Virginia

2x State Champ

3x Ironman Champ

3x Super32 Medalist

2x FloNats Champ

Notes:  You have to love this kid. He’s tenacious on the mat, and extremely personable off it. He knows how to have fun in the sport.

TOM Prediction:  This is for the #1 ranking to end the year. Roberts held that spot previously, but lost to 2x State finalist, Jason Nolf in OT earlier in the year. DiCam usurped his spot by virtue of winning Ironman. This is going to be a close one, and will probably be determined by who can score from short offense. I’ll take Roberts.

USA 3, PA 3

126 – TOM #1 – Jimmy Gulibon, Derry, PA                                      Penn State

4x State Champ

Ironman Champ

FloNats Champ

Notes:  Gulibon became PA’s 10th 4x state champion two weeks ago. He had just 1 loss in each of high school seasons; as a freshman, by illegal slam, as a Soph. to then-#1 Evan Silver at Ironman, as a Jr. to then-#1 Nico Megaludis, and as a Sr. in the finals of Ironman to Dean Heil.

126 – TOM #2 – Cory Clark, Southeast Polk, IA                                          Iowa

4x State Champ

4x Fargo AA

Fila AA

Notes:  Clark suffered his only loss of his high school career in regular season action this year against Jack Hathaway.

TOM Prediction:  Our only match-up of four-time state champions, both Clark and Gulibon wrestle similar push-the-pace, heavy-on-the-head styles. The difference will be Gulibon’s uncanny ability to shoot lightening quick leg attacks off those ties.

PA 7, USA 3

132 – HM – Mackenzie McGuire, Upper St. Clair, PA                              Kent State

State Champ, 2x Finalist

Notes:  Largely because he hasn’t wrestled much in the off-season, McGuire is one of the lesser known PA stars. But he’s a gamer. He beat 3x state and S32 placer, Shyheim Brown in the state finals this year.

132 – TOM #2 – Zane Richards, Carbondale, IL                                          Illinois

2x State Champ

3x Fargo Champ, 6x AA (all 3rd or better)

3x Fila Champ

Notes:  Richards wrestles with heart and passion, never letting up and forcing action.

TOM Prediction:  Although Richards is very active, he stays in position as well as anyone in this year’s class. The scoring opportunities for McGuire will be few and far between.

PA 7, USA 6

138 – TOM #8 – Steve Spearman, Erie McDowell, PA                

2x State Champ, 3rd

Super32 Champ

Fargo Finalist

Notes:  You never quite know what Spearman. From a talent perspective, it doesn’t get much better. But sometimes he wrestles way too conservative which leaves the door open for opponents to win narrow matches.

138 – TOM #2 – John Meeks, Des Moines, IA                                            Iowa State

4x State Champ

Fargo AA

Notes:  Meeks is the only 4x undefeated wrestler in this year’s Dapper Dan. He’s extremely quick on his feet.

TOM Prediction:  This is a real interesting match on paper. Both guys are supremely explosive on their feet, and both don’t spend much time riding. If Spearman opens up, we could have a high scoring match. If he doesn’t we’re probably looking at ultimate ride out. In the end, Spearman loves the spotlight. Hard for me to pick against him in that regard.

PA 10, USA 6

145 – TOM #20 – Zack Beitz, Juniata,  PA                                                    Penn State

State Champ

4x Placer (5-2-3-1)

Notes:  Beitz is another PA kid that hasn’t ventured out of the state much. But his four state medals and two finals appearance attest to the fact that he’s a steady wrestler. He had an in-season win over #5-Mikey Racciatto at the King of the Mountain this year as well.

145 – TOM #1 – Jason Tsirtsis, Crown Point, IN                                   Northwestern

4x State Champ

Fargo Champ, 4x AA

2x Fila Champ

2x Super32 Finalist

Notes:  Quite possibly the most college-ready wrestler in high school today. Tsirtsis has won everywhere, including at Fila Jr’s against college kids. Jason looks to join older brother Alex, as DD winners. Jason wrestled here in 2004.

TOM Prediction:  Beitz is no slouch, but Tsirtsis is one of the most polished prep wrestlers to come along in a while.

PA 10, USA 9

152 – TOM #15 – Cody Copeland, Greenville, PA                                     Loch Haven

State Champ

3x Placer (2-DNP-3-1)

Notes:  Every year at the Dapper Dan we see a couple kids from PA that fly under the radar. This year it’s McGuire, Beitz, and Copeland, who’s been sniffing around a state title for years. He got it this year, and had a dominant season.

152 – TOM #4 – Brian Realbuto, Sommers, NY                                              Cornell

3x State Champ

Fargo Champ

Eastern States Champ

Notes:  Realbuto has always been a national-level wrestler. But he really hit his stride when former Missouri National Champ, Max Askren, who’s also the Honorary Team USA Coach, became Realbuto’s personal trainer.


TOM Prediction:  One thing is for certain, Realbuto is fun to watch. He has a never-say-die attitude and fights the whole bout. But he does make some mistakes, and Copeland is a guy that likes to capitalize on just that. However, Copeland’s leg defense needs improvement, and I think that will be the difference in the bout.

USA 12, PA 10

160 – TOM #5 – Brian Brill, Central Mountain, PA                                                 Lehigh

State Champ, Runner-Up

Fargo Runner-Up

Notes:  Brill is a crafty veteran that stays in good position and looks for a nasty high crotch. He hasn’t participated on the national scene much in the last two years, so he better bring his “A-game” in this match-up.

160 – TOM #3 – Zach Brunson, Churchill, OR                                                 Illinois

4x State Champ

Fargo Champ, 2x Finalist

Reno Champ, 2x Finalist

Fila Finalist

Notes:  Brunson has long been one of the best kids in the country. We tabbed him #1 way back in the summer of 2010. Along with DD team member, Richards, and California State Champion, Nikko Reyes, Brunson headlines a talented recruiting class for the Illini this year.

TOM Prediction:  Even at #5, I think Brill is short on national credibility. The kid is a flat out stud. But Brunson is such a technician. Brill is at his best when he can take timing shots, and I’m not sure Brunson will allow that. I expect a close bout here, but lean towards Brunson.

USA 15, PA 10

170 – TOM #12 – Elliot Riddick, Bethlehem Catholic, PA                                   Lehigh

State Champ

Super32 Runner-Up

Beast of the East Runner-Up

Ironman 3rd

Notes:  Riddick has a great skill set. And due to tremendous character and strong work ethic, he continues to improve all the time. He’s one of three Lehigh-bound recruits in the Dapper Dan this year.

170 – TOM #2 – Kyle Crutchmer, Tulsa Union, OK                                    Oklahoma State

2x State Champ

2x Reno Champ

4x Fargo AA

2x Fila AA

Notes:  I have long since adopted Crutchmer as one of my favorite wrestlers in the country, not simply because of his talent, but because of his heart; if you could have only seen him wrestling through torn cartiledge in his ribs through Fargo, you’d understand. He’s not always flashy, but he finds a way to win against a variety of opponents, even the best.

TOM Prediction:  Riddick has the talent and skill set to win here. He’s busy on his feet, and a good rider. His length serves him well both on offense and in countering. But Crutchmer is so crafty. His mat and situational awareness is as good as it gets, as him makes adjustments in matches as well as anyone. On the other side, Eilliot wrestles his match all the time. It will be interesting to see which side wins out here.

USA 18, PA 10

182 – TOM #6 – Wes Phipps, Grove City, PA                                                          Penn State

State Champ

4x Placer (3-5-2-1)

NHSCA Runner-Up, 3rd

Notes:  Phipps path to state gold was blocked by a couple PA studs in Dirk Cowburn (as a sophomore) and Nate Brown (as a junior). But Phipps is one of the best up-and-comers. Now that he’s done playing football, his arc should continue to rise.

182 – TOM #3 – Jordan Rogers, Mead, WA                                     Oklahoma State

3x State Champ

2x Fargo Champ

4x Fargo Finalist

6x Fargo Medalist

Fila Champ

Notes:  Rogers has been one of the best young wrestlers in the international styles for a while now. Along with Nick Roberts and Zane Richards, he’s one of three wrestlers here at the Dapper Dan that competed on US World Teams last summer.

TOM Prediction:  Rogers is one of the best throwers in the game. He loves working out of underhooks, which sets up fun action for the fans. But I’m going with the upset here. Phipps looked as if he was firing on all cylinders in Hershey, wrestling fluidly with both power and technique.

USA 18, PA 13

195 – TOM #8 – Perry Hills, Pittsburgh CC, PA                               Maryland (FB)

State Champ

Beast of The East Champ

Notes:  As one of the top quarterback recruits in the country, wrestling has always been on the backburner a bit for Hills. But he’s an incredibly talented athlete. As his win over then-#1 Kenny Courts showed last year, he’s not just an athlete who wrestles, he’s legitimately one of the best wrestlers in the country.

195 – TOM #5 – Gage Harrah, Crystal Lake Central, IL                                        Drexel

2x State Champ

4x Placer (3-4-1-1)

Fargo Champ, 3x AA

Fila Finalist

Notes:  When Harrah is on his game it results in a beautiful symbiosis of technique and power.

TOM Prediction:  It’s impossible to overlook Harrah’s lengthy national resume and wins over ranked opponents in comparison to Hills’ in-season only slate. That being said, it’s just one bout, and I think Hills has the talent to win, especially in folk.

USA 18, PA 16

220 – TOM #5 – John Rizzo, Richland, PA                           

3x State Champ

4x Placer (5-1-1-1)

Beast of The East Runner-Up

Notes:  With a three year reign of gold medals, Rizzo is the most decorated big man in the long history of PA wrestling. None of his state performances were more dominating than his last, when he simply jaw-dropping.

220 – TOM #3 – Josh Marchok, Schaumburg, IL                                              Stanford

2x State Champ

5x Fargo AA

Notes:  Marchok had an outstanding Fargo Jr. Freestyle performance last summer, where his only losses were to Adam Coon and Morgan McIntosh.

TOM Prediction:  Rizzo simply gets after it.

PA 19, USA 18

HWT – TOM #12 – Averee Robinson, Susquehanna, PA                         Temple (FB)          

2x State Champ

3x State Placer

Beast of the East 4th

Notes:  Robinson is an active heavyweight, which often makes his bouts entertaining.

HWT – TOM #2 – Doug Vollaro, Oviedo, FL                                                      Lehigh

Super 32 Champ


Ironman Finalist

Fargo Finalist

Fila Finalist


Notes:  Of all the talented kids in the country and in this event, Vollaro has the most major finals appearances of any.

TOM Prediction:  Vollaro has a great combo of size and athleticism. And while you can’t put anything past Robinson (he pinned NJ State Champ Billy Smith last year in Virginia), he will be a decided underdog in this bout. Look for Vollaro to capitalize on the mistakes of a very active Robinson.

USA 21, PA 19

History and Summation:

The all-time record has Team USA in the lead 19-17-1. PA dominated the series from the Dapper Dan’s inception in 1975 through the 80’s, posting a 10-3-1 mark. From 1989 on, Team USA has a 16-7 advantage.

Pennsylvania has won two of the last three, but they’ll have a difficult time winning this one. Above, I gave toss-ups at 120 and 138 to PA, and went with the big upsets at both 182 and 195. That will be tough to swing in actuality, and even if they do pull those off, they’d need more. But crazier things have happened.

Realistically, look for a Team USA win in the 12pt range.

The undercard will be a team of senior all-stars from the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) vs. that of Maryland.

The undercard kicks off at 4PM Sunday, with the Main Event hitting the mats at 6, once again from Pittsburgh’s Fitzgerald Fieldhouse.

Check http://wrestlingclassic.com/2012/index.htm for coverage and additional information.