Saturday night at the Fitzgerald Field House, located on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, the “Rose Bowl of Wrestling” will take place for the 43rd consecutive year. The Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic, formerly known as the Dapper Dan, strives to match the top senior in Pennsylvania against the top senior in the United States in an all-star event.
The list of wrestlers who have competed in the Wrestling Classic is long and illustrious and contains eight Olympic gold medalists including Dave Schultz, Cael Sanderson, Kenny Monday and Randy Lewis. Nine out of the 10 NCAA champions in 2017 participated in the event following their senior seasons in high school, with only Missouri’s J’den Cox missing the cut. Unfortunately for Cox in 2014, future Olympic champion Kyle Snyder was selected to represent the United States at 220lbs ahead of J’den.
A special matchup between PA’s Spencer Lee and Dayton Fix of Oklahoma had been scheduled for this year’s event with two 126lb bouts initially on the card. However, Lee was injured during the postseason, forcing him out of the Classic. He will serve as the PA squad’s honorary captain. After Lee’s withdrawal, Fix decided not to compete in order to focus on upcoming international events and a second bout at 182 was added instead.
The undercard of the event features an all-star team from the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic League), located in the Pittsburgh area, taking on the top seniors from the state of Georgia. The USA leads the all-time series 24-17-1 and has won five straight, including a 25-20 victory in 2016. This year’s Pennsylvania squad has a puncher’s chance and will only need a couple of minor upsets to end the streak.
The main event will start at 160 lbs.
160 USA #4 (at 170) Jake Allar, St. Michael-Albertville (MN), 250-27
PA #6 (at 170) Jacob Oliver, Huntingdon, 159-13
Allar is a two-time state champion who is headed to Minnesota to wrestle after a stellar performance during the past year including a Fargo Junior freestyle championship and a Super 32 finals appearance.
Oliver, an Edinboro commit, is a two-time champion and three-time finalist out of PA’s small school (AA) division.
Allar is a slick wrestler, while Oliver is a tank that just keeps on rolling. This could be a spot where PA scores some unexpected points, but the safe pick is Allar getting the USA squad off to an important early lead.
Allar by DEC USA 3-0
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