Feb. 21, 2021
After not venturing outside the borders of the IU9 “bubble” for the entire pandemic-truncated 2020-21 regular season, it was tough to know what to expect from the local schools competing at Saturday’s District 9 Class AA Wrestling Championships in Clearfield.
As it turned out, the lack of tournament experience didn’t seem to bother Port Allegany. Led by three-time district champion Braedon Johnson, the Gators came away with three individual titles and seven regional qualifiers, good for a strong second-place team finish behind back-to-back champ Brookville.
The trio of gold medals broke a Port High school record, topping the previous best (two) shared by five different Gator squads:
- 1989: Chris Waterman 119, Jason Babola 275
- 2003: Bobby Nichols 125, Adam Rohrer 171
- 2008: Nick Nichols 130, Dylan Major 215
- 2010: Alex Gular 145, Adam Greenman 152
- 2015: Casey Vollmer 113, Ethan Budd 220
Johnson (11-0), the top seed at 126 pounds, pinned his way to the title, overwhelming his first two opponents in 1:01 and 0:30 before notching a second-period fall at the 3:34 mark over No. 2 seed Mark Palmer (Brockway) in the final. The Smethport senior and two-time state qualifier claimed his third consecutive D-9 gold since the Gators and Hubbers joined forces in a co-op preceding his sophomore year, joining previous PAHS legends Isaac Greeley (1991-93), Adam Rohrer (2001-03), Nick Nichols (2006-08), and Alex Gular (2010-12) as three-time winners.
Johnson, who entered the tournament tied with older brother Bryent with 91 career victories, now stands at a glittering 94-16. A surefire 100-match winner if the Gators had wrestled a normal schedule this season, he’ll still have a shot at joining the elite club if he can advance through next Saturday’s regionals at Sharon to the Western “super-regional” at IUP the following weekend.
Port senior Isaiah Caden (10-1) was almost as dominant in his path to gold at 145, opening with a quarterfinal pin and an 11-0 major decision in the semis before finishing off his run with a third-period fall against top seed Dalton Stahli. Trailing 6-4 entering the third period, Caden chose to start from the bottom, then turned a match-tying reversal into a pinning combination to claim the title.
It was the third time Caden and Stahli had faced each other this season, with the Johnsonburg senior taking a 5-3 decision in the first dual meet and the second-seeded Caden rebounding with a 7-0 win last weekend.
Following his classmate onto the mat for the 152-pound final, third-seeded Taro Tanaka (9-2) sprung the upset against No. 1 seed Kaden Dennis, scoring the lone takedown late in the third period for a tight 3-1 decision to avenge a 6-3 regular-season loss to the Johnsonburg sophomore.
Dennis’ escape was the only point scored in three matches against Tanaka, who raced out to a 5-0 lead before finishing off the pin in his quarterfinal, then blanked second-seeded Luke Ely (Kane) 2-0 in the semis with a last-second near-fall.
With only the top three placewinners at each weight advancing to next Saturday’s one-day regional tournament, they’ll be joined in Sharon by Gator seniors Scott Fuller (third at 138), Derek Kallenborn (third at 215), and Justin Young (second at 285) as well as junior Chase Weimer (second at 120). It’s Johnson’s fourth trip (including one for Smethport), the third for Caden and Young, Kallenborn’s second, and the first for Weimer, Fuller and Tanaka.
Another senior, Isaak Baumgarner, took fourth at 172, just missing out on giving the Gators a school record-tying eight regional qualifiers despite sending only 11 competitors to Clearfield. (Brookville and third-place finisher Redbank Valley each had a full lineup of 13 wrestlers.)
Other Allegheny Mountain League wrestlers moving on to Sharon include Johnsonburg’s Nolan Shaffer (138 champ), Cole Casilio (160 champ), Rayce Milliard (third at 132), Stahli and Dennis, Kane’s Ethan Illerbrun (second at 113), Harley Morris (second at 138) and Ely (third at 152), Sheffield state medalist and Pitt recruit Ethan Finch (189 champ), and his Wolverines teammate Landon Mead (third at 160).
Brockway freshman Weston Pisarchick was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler after stunning Brookville senior Cayden Walter, the second-ranked Class AA 106-pounder in the state, in their championship match, while Raiders coach Dave Klepfer collected his 10th Coach of the Year award.
District 9 results: http://live.pa-wrestling.com/pdfs/2021_District9_AA_results.pdf
Northwest Region brackets: http://live.pa-wrestling.com/pdfs/2021_North_West_AA_results.pdf
District IX Class AA Wrestling Championships
Clearfield High School
Feb. 20, 2021
Brookville 174, Port Allegany 154, Redbank Valley 140.5, Johnsonburg 107, Brockway 98.5, Curwensville 95.5, Kane 69, Sheffield 60, Clarion 29, Ridgway 25, Cranberry 24, Coudersport 12, Cameron County 4.
106: *Weston Pisarchick, Brockway, dec. Cayden Walter, Brookville, 5-1
113: Jacob Carfley, Curwensville, pinned Ethan Illerbrun, Kane, 2:54
120: Owen Reinsel, Brookville, pinned Chase Weimer, Port Allegany, 1:24
126: Braedon Johnson, Port Allegany, pinned Mark Palmer, Brockway, 3:34
132: Trenten Rupp, Redbank Valley, maj. dec. Ryder Kuklinskie, Curwensville, 10-1 SV
138: Nolan Shaffer, Johnsonburg, dec. Harley Morris, Kane, 9-3
145: Isaiah Caden, Port Allegany, pinned Dalton Stahli, Johnsonburg, 5:10
152: Taro Tanaka, Port Allegany, dec. Kaden Dennis, Johnsonburg, 3-1
160: Cole Casilio, Johnsonburg, won by inj. default over Wyatt Griffin, Brookville
172: Noah Bash, Brockway, dec. Jackson Zimmerman, Brookville, 5-4
189: Ethan Finch, Sheffield, pinned Hudson Martz, Redbank Valley, 1:30
215: Bryce Rafferty, Brookville, dec. Aiden Gardner, Redbank Valley, 8-4
285: Nathan Taylor, Brookville, pinned Justin Young, Port Allegany, 2:55
* — Most Outstanding Wrestler
106: Daniel Evans, Redbank Valley, pinned Chase Kyler, Sheffield, 0:55
113: Cole Bish, Redbank Valley, dec. Jared Popson, Brookville, 7-0
120: Ridge Cook, Redbank Valley, pinned Alex Bechakas, Kane, 3:56
126: Nik Fegert, Curwensville, maj. dec. Anthony Maiure, Cranberry, 13-4
132: Rayce Milliard, Johnsonburg, dec. Brecken Cieleski, Brookville, 7-2 SV
138: Scott Fuller, Port Allegany, pinned Dylan Bash, Brockway, 2:38
145: Logan Augenbaugh, Curwensville, pinned Dalton Bish, Redbank Valley, 4:44
152: Luke Ely, Kane, dec. Coyha Brown, Brookville, 4-0
160: Landon Mead, Sheffield, dec. Jack Smith, Brockway, 4-3
172: Cutter Boggess, Clarion, pinned Isaak Baumgarner, Port Allegany, 4:46
189: Seth Stewart, Brockway, pinned Jake McCracken, Curwensville, 1:57
215: Derek Kallenborn, Port Allegany, pinned Duane Brady, Curwensville, 1:11
285: Kobe Bonanno, Redbank Valley, pinned Jacob Kunselman, Ridgway, 2:25