560 wrestlers. 1010 matches. 224 medalists. 28 champions. The Pennsylvania state individual wrestling tournament assembles the deepest group of wrestlers vying for a state title in the nation. There are elite wrestlers found across the United States, but no state will put more quality wrestlers on the mat under one roof trying to become a champion.
This 23-page, 6800-word guide will navigate through all 14 weight classes of both the AAA and AA tournaments and take a stab at predicting all 224 medalists and the top five team placements in each tournament. It’s not for the faint of heart, but then again most wrestling fans have sturdy constitutions. It’s almost showtime! By the way, it’s called “States” here in PA.
Where: The Giant Center, Hershey, PA
When: Thursday, March, 9th to Saturday, March, 11th. AA and AAA sessions alternate. AA finals starting Saturday at 1:30 pm, AAA finals Saturday at 6:30 pm.
How to Watch: Pennsylvania residents can watch both the AA and AAA finals live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Fans around the world can stream the finals by creating an account at pcnselect.com to watch online, on the PCN Select mobile app, or on the PCN Select Roku Channel. Preliminary rounds through the placing matches can be streamed live via subscription through the NFHS network at www.nfhsnetwork.com.
How to Listen: WJPA Radio provides live broadcasts of all rounds of the PIAA championships. Listen online via the MSA Sports Network at www.msasports.net.
Follow Online: Live brackets can be found on Flo Arena.
The PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) holds two state championship tournaments for individuals. The AAA tournament is for large school competitors, while the AA tournament is the small schools, under 306 male students enrolled in grades 10 through 12. Both tournaments have twenty man brackets per weight class which are qualified through regional tournaments. For the first time in state tournament history, in 2017 the PIAA will seed each regional champion in the bracket. Seeding criteria consists of a combination of state or regional placing in the previous year and current year winning percentage. The seeding replaces the random draw brackets used in the past that often resulted in two potential finalists facing off in the quarterfinal round. For the most part, it seems to have worked this year.
AAA Team Preview
Throughout the year the top two in the PIAA have been Nazareth and Bethlehem Catholic. Nazareth won the dual battle after losing the first dual to BECA, beating the Golden Hawks in both the District XI and PIAA state finals. Tournaments have been a different story as BECA has out-placed Nazareth in all four tournaments they have competed in, Ironman, Beast of the East, District XI and last week’s Northeast Regional. Bethlehem Catholic qualified a tournament high 10 wrestlers for the state tournament and should be considered the favorite to repeat as AAA state champions. The Golden Hawks have a heavy favorite in Mikey Labriola and Niko Camacho is a tossup to win it all. Beyond that, Bethlehem Catholic has no sure-fire medalists besides Ryan Anderson, who has the misfortune of competing in a weight class that includes Spencer Lee, Austin DeSanto and five other returning state medalists. This may leave the door open for a few other teams and certainly portends an exciting battle for the crown. Nazareth qualified six regional champions and will pose a serious threat with one prohibitive title favorite in Sammy Sasso and two other title contenders in Travis Stefanik and Andrew Cerniglia. Two of their qualifiers, however, Sean Pierson and Cade Wilson, got brutal draws leaving the Blue Eagles virtually no margin for error if they hope to take the title.
Should the top teams falter, two dark horse teams could each make a run at the championship. Northampton qualified six wrestlers for the championships with Julian Chlebove a favorite to take home his second crown, while KJ Fenstermacher and Dan Moran may be wrestling on Saturday night for a title as well. Cade Moisey is also a solid bet to reach the podium giving the Konkrete Kids a chance to rack up some big points. Council Rock South qualified five wrestlers, with Zack Trampe and Joe Doyle both having title aspirations while Riley Palmer is a solid bet to place very high on the podium. The Golden Hawks other two qualifiers, Max Mendez and Cary Palmer, have favorable brackets giving South a shot at having five medalists. Kiski Area was solidly the third best team in PA during the dual season but the Cavaliers lack of a true title contender will likely hurt them in the state tournament setting.
- Bethlehem Catholic
- Council Rock South
- Kiski Area
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