Northwest AA Wrestling Regional: Day 1 recap

LIVE RESULTS

SHARON, Pa – It was a good day to be a district champ during the opening rounds of the PIAA Northwest Regional, with all but two of the top-seeded wrestlers moving into this morning’s semifinals.

The two District 9 titlists from the Allegheny Mountain League, Port Allegany’s Ethan Budd (28-2) and Smethport’s Jimmy Duffy (31-0), each cruised through their quarterfinal matches with little difficulty. Budd was well ahead late in the second period in his 220-pound bout before finishing off D-10 fourth seed Tyler Zebrivious (Lakeview) in 3:53 to run his career record to 99-26 — breaking a tie with his coach, B.J. Greenman (98-38) on the PAHS career wins list — while Duffy, the reigning PIAA bronze medalist, blanked Adam Ballew (D10-4, North East) 12-0 to remain unbeaten at 145.

Budd will meet the D-10 runner-up, Sharon senior Bryce Laughlin (31-3), who got here with an 11-4 winner over Curwensville’s Stephen McClure. The two met in the season-opening Hickory Tournament, with Budd notching a 15-2 major decision in the semis.

Duffy draws D10-2 John Mott (Commodore Perry, jr., 29-2), who pinned Clarion’s Colton Rapp in the quarterfinals.

Budd’s teammate, 160-pounder Mac Tanner (29-2), will also wrestle in the semis for a shot at clinching a ticket to Hershey for states. Tanner frustrated Tyler Burlew (Corry) in the quarters, winning the takedown battle 5-0 on the way to a 10-6 decision. He’ll face Eisenhower senior Louie Head (32-1), the D-10 champ.

Sheffield’s Terrel Williams is the only other AML wrestler to make it to the semis, downing Joshua Christner (Greenville) 12-5 to set up a meeting with Curwensville’s Shae Bloom.

As expected, the two district team champs stand atop the team leaderboard, with Reynolds (9 in the semis) holding a 44-32.5 edge over Brookville (6). Brockway (seventh), Curwensville and Port A (tied for eighth) are the only other D-9 schools in the top 10.

Other area results:
106: John Wheeler (Northwestern) 7-0 Dylan Pesock (Oswayo Valley)
113: Trevor Olney (Coudy) 6-5 Derick Uber (Lakeview); Abe Guarriello (Fort LeBoeuf) 2:43 Olney.
120: Sam Sallot (Harbor Creek) 9-4 Trey Stiles (Port A)
126: Dustin Kudrick (C) 5-1 Caiden Mooney (Northwestern); Cole Matthews (Reynolds) 1:09 Kudrick.
132: Dustin Weilacher (Union City)7-2 Devin Norlin (Johnsonburg)
138: Hunter Michaels (Rey) 8-0 Adam Shunk (Smethport)
138: Jude Mattocks (Saegertown) 14-6 Alec English (Kane)
145: Dan Simmerman (Sae) 7-1 Jacob Kallenborn (PA)
145: Chris Hibbler (Seneca) 5-4 Julian Smith (C)
152: Gage Arnold (C) 10-8 (SV-1) John Sims (Hickory); Nicholas Monico (Sae) 13-3 Arnold.
170: Joel Leise (Reynolds) 13-2 Josiah Ramadhan (PA)
182: Hunter Cox (Cambridge Springs) 13-3 Grant West (OV)

D-9 AA Wrestling Championships ready to hit the mat in Clearfield

Shunk, Duffy, Budd claim top seeds from AML

Feb. 26, 2016

The road to a Class AA Pennsylvania state wrestling title begins at Clearfield High School this weekend, with District 9 crowning champions in 14 weight classes and the top four finishers in each advancing to the Northwest Regional at Sharon on March 4-5.

Leading a group of three returning regional qualifiers determined to improve on Port Allegany’s fourth-place team finish last year, defending 220-pound champ Ethan Budd will attempt to become just the seventh Gator grappler to win at least two D-9 titles, an exclusive club which includes three-timers Isaac Greeley (1991-93), Adam Rohrer (2001-03), Nick Nichols (2006-08) and Alex Gular (2010-12), along with Budd’s uncle, 1988 PIAA champion Dale Budd (1986, 88), and Dylan Major (2008-09).

Ethan’s fellow seniors, 152-pound runner-up Mac Tanner and 170-pound bronze medalist Josiah Ramadhan, also made it to Sharon last year before falling just short of earning a trip to Hershey.

Action in Class AA will get underway at 4 p.m. Friday with the preliminary and quarterfinal rounds and wrestlebacks, then resume at 10 a.m Saturday for the semifinals and consi semis. At 3 p.m., the District IX Chapter of the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame will induct its latest class, followed by the Parade of Champions and the district finals and third-place matches.

The eight-man Class of 2016 will have a strong Allegheny Mountain League presence, with former Port coach John Kriner, Coudersport two-time state champ Dirk Cowburn, and former Cameron County coach and local referee Jim Baker among the inductees. Kriner founded the Gator varsity program in 1973, compiling a 145-85-1 record during his two head-coaching stints from 1973-79 and 1986-94.

Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for students.

Local Class AA wrestlers:
106: No. 1 seed Keelan Kunselman (Brookville, jr., 22-10) will open against Darien Gregory (Smethport, fr., 11-12) in the quarterfinal round.
Port freshman Reese Vollmer (15-11) is seeded sixth, drawing No. 3 Kyle Bush (Ridgway, so., 22-6) in the quarters. The two met at the season-opening Hickory Tournament with Bush claiming a 10-3 decision.
AML: (4) Noah Blankenship (Kane, fr., 21-4) vs. the winner of (5) Brayden Altobelli (Redbank Valley, fr., 11-6) vs. Login Dehner (Clarion, fr., 18-10); (7) Dylan Pesock (Oswayo Valley, so., 12-10) vs. the winner of Brynen Kisiel (Coudersport, fr., 8-16) vs. (2) Blake Passaielli (Curwensville, fr., 23-6). Vollmer has beaten Pesock once (1-0 in OT) and Kisiel twice (pin at Hickory, tech-fall in the dual meet), but lost twice to Blankenship (7-0 at Kane, pin in finals at the Salamanca Tournament).

113: The reigning champion, Port High grad Casey Vollmer, went on to place fourth at regionals and qualify for states last year. He’s now wrestling for Gannon University. Top seed Gavin Park (Brookville, so., 13-2) starts against Christian Whisner (Kane, so., 11-13), with eighth-seeded Gator freshman Issac Smoker (18-11) awaiting the winner in the quarters.
AML: (5) Kole Holden (Sheffield, jr., 20-8) vs. the winner of (4) Alex Struble (Clarion, sr., 19-9) vs. Hunter Martz (RV, fr., 14-16); Austin Hartzell (OV, so., 14-7) vs. (2) Mitchell Overbeck (Brockway, sr., 23-4); Trevor Olney (Coudy, jr., 15-4) vs. the winner of Ravon Foltz (Cameron County, sr., 6-13) vs. (6) Bryce Barclay (Ridgway, so., 21-6). Smoker pinned Hartzell, lost via pin to Olney in AML action.

120: No. 1 seed Brockway senior Ryan Carlson (26-1) was last year’s runner-up to Vollmer at 113.
Fifth-seeded Port sophomore Trey Stiles (16-4) opens against (4) Dawson Wilson (RV, jr., 14-10) in the quarterfinals.
AML: (8) Bryce Hale (Smethport, jr., 16-13) vs. Caleb Wry (Cranberry, so., 5-7), with the winner to face Carlson; Patrick Rounsville (OV, fr., 5-14) vs. (3) Luke McClain (Ridgway, so., 19-5), with the winner to face (6) Brock Foltz (CC, sr., 12-10). Stiles pinned Hale at Hickory.

126: Defending champ Tanner Altobelli (RV, sr., 25-1), the No. 1 seed, faces OV freshman David Duell (6-7) in the first round.
AML: (4) Dustin Kudrick (Coudy, so., 15-9) vs. Igor Kopytyak (Sheffield, sr., 2-12); Ethan Fields (CC, fr., 6-16) vs. (3) Drew Baumgratz (Ridgway, jr., 21-6); Chris Kennedy (Johnsonburg, sr., 9-16) vs. (2) Mason Lindenmuth (Brockway, sr., 25-3).

132: Eighth-seeded Port junior Devin Gustin (6-11) faces a tall task in the quarterfinals against unbeaten Taylor Ortz (34-0). The nationally ranked Brookville senior, who earned bronze at states last year after claiming the 120-pound D-9 and Northwest Regional championships, has signed to wrestle at Clarion University next season.
AML: (4) Devon Norlin (Johnsonburg, so., 17-9) vs. Shalil Wall (Sheffield, jr., 2-12); (7) Alex Sanderson (Smethport, so., 12-9) vs. the winner of (2) Logan McClain (Ridgway, so., 24-4) vs. Chucky Gardner (Kane, so., 5-9); John Fitzgerald (Coudy, so., 5-14) vs. (3) Josh Hanncock (Cranberry, jr., 27-6). Gustin decisioned Gardner and Fitzgerald and lost to McClain and Norlin during the regular season.

138: Last year’s runner-up, Smethport senior Adam Shunk (23-3), is the top seed. The returning state qualifier will face Austin Curtis (Keystone, sr., 9-16) in the prelims.
AML: (3) Kyle Holden (Sheffield, sr., 18-9) vs. Isiah Barney (OV, fr., 10-11), with the winner to face (6) Jake Zimmerman (Johnsonburg, so., 15-16); (4) Alec English (Kane, fr., 17-6) vs. CJ Shreffler (Cranberry, fr., 11-15); (7) David Kudrick (Coudy, so., 16-13) vs. Nate Wolff (Ridgway, sr., 7-17).

145: Shunk’s classmate, James Duffy (26-0), is the reigning district and regional champ and PIAA bronze medalist. Duffy, the seventh Hubber wrestler to place at states and first to make the top three since 1991, will face Mason Lancaster (Curwensville, jr., 2-9) in his opening match.
Port sophomore (6) Jacob Kallenborn (20-8) opens with Cody Marfink (Sheffield, jr., 4-10).
AML: (3) Aiden Hulings (Kane, fr., 16-6) vs. Hunter O’Neil (Cranberry, fr., 1-12); (2) Julian Smith (Coudy, so., 21-5) vs. the winner of (7) Colton Rapp (Clarion, so., 16-12) vs. William Russell (OV, so., 3-4). Kallenborn split a pair of matches with Hulings at the Salamanca tournament, tech-falled Russell, and dropped a 6-4 decision to Smith.

152: Top seed Shae Bloom (Curwensville, sr., 25-1), a three-time D-9 titlist who earned the Outstanding Wrestler award at last year’s championships, will join Ortz and Duffy at Clarion next year.
Gator senior Dylan Baumgarner (19-7), seeded fifth, faces John McSwain (Clarion, jr., 1-0) in the first round.
AML: (3) Gage Arnold (Coudy, jr., 23-5) vs. Justin Aharrah (Smethport, jr., 8-12); (6) Terrel Williams (Sheffield, jr., 15-3) vs. Simon Peter Couls (OV, so., 6-13); (7) Joey Elinski (Johnsonburg, so., 14-12) vs. Adam Sicher (Kane, fr., 9-13); Ethan Vislay (CC, so., 18-10) vs. (8) Jonathan Francis (Ridgway, jr., 19-10). Baumgarner has pinned Sicher and Couls, and battled Arnold to a draw through three periods before dropping a 9-7 decision in overtime.

160: No. 1 seed Paul Zacherl (Cranberry, sr., 30-0), last year’s runner-up at 152, hasn’t lost a match since states. Second-seeded Port senior Mac Tanner (26-1) has been almost as brilliant, with his only setback an overtime decision in the finals at Hickory on the opening weekend of the season. Tanner, seeking his second trip to regionals after earning D-9 silver last year, will open against Brookville senior Dom Palmer (11-9) in the quarterfinals.
AML: (4) Nick Ragosta (Coudy, sr., 25-6) vs. Tanner Barr (Sheffield, sr., 16-12), with the winner to face (5) Akete Kindle (Smethport, jr., 11-5); Jared Whiting (CC, so., 14-14) vs. Cody McClintick (Brockway, sr., 23-7). Tanner majored Ragosta, 20-7, in their match at Port.

170: No. 1 seed Xavier Molnar (Brookville, so., 21-8) draws Smethport sophomore Lukas Frontino in the quarterfinals. Third-seeded Gator senior Josiah Ramadhan (21-6) is the only returning placewinner in this weight class after finishing third last year to advance to regionals. He’ll start his tournament against Scott Toth (RV, jr., 3-15) in the prelims.
AML: (5) Isaac Wright (Coudy, so., 14-10) vs. Caleb Pifer (CC, fr., 4-8); (6) Cameron Rothrauff (Kane, sr., 10-9) vs. Ryder Howard (OV, sr., 9-12). Ramadhan faced Rothrauff twice during the regular season, pinning him both times, and earned a major decision over Howard.

182: Top-seeded Brookville junior Noah Cielski (26-5) will face Coudy freshman Eli Ayers (6-7) in the quarterfinals, where Gator junior Rob Arnett (9-3), the No. 7 seed, will wait for the winner of (2) Grant West (OV, jr., 16-6) vs. Logan Minich (RV, so., 11-11).
AML: (5) Ty Stahli (Kane, fr., 16-10) vs. Sam Moore (Cranberry, so., 8-14); Nate Munsell (CC, sr., 4-19) vs. (4) Alexander Burkhardt (Clarion, sr., 13-6). West edged Arnett, 9-8, in their lone meeting.

195: Defending champ and No. 1 seed Clarion senior Zach Sintobin (25-2) will face the winner of the first-round match between Port junior Tyler Bliss (1-0) and eighth-seeded Smethport senior Nick Dibble (13-12).
AML: (5) Joe Lawton (Coudy, sr., 12-11) vs. Jeff Harvey (Curwensville, sr., 7-8); Mike Good (Kane, so., 0-0) vs. (3) Tyler Vantassel (Keystone, fr., 14-6).

220: Gator senior Ethan Budd (24-2) returns as the No. 1 seed after claiming the district title in 2015, while runner-up Bryce Town has moved up to 285. Budd has a first-round bye and will face either (8) Mark Latuska (Brockway, jr., 7-15) or Dominik Mascho (OV, sr., 9-9) in the quarterfinals.
AML: Collin Alexis (Kane, sr., 5-7) vs. (4) RJ Fattler (Cranberry, sr., 12-11); (6) Nick Knowles (Sheffield, fr., 15-11) vs. Jeff Gunn (Coudy, so., 5-10); Matt Stratton (Smethport, so., 7-12) vs. (7) Tom Wurster (Clarion, so., 12-8). Budd is unbeaten against D-9 Class AA competition for the second-straight season, pinning Knowles, Gunn, and Stratton in league matches.

285: Cameron County’s Jack Karsten won the heavyweight class at Clarion last year, but the Northwest Region champ has moved on to play football at Edinboro University. Bronze medalist Brylee Shumaker (RV, sr., 29-1) moves up to the No. 1 line, where he’ll open against Jamis Lee (Curwensville, sr., 13-13).
Port sophomore Brock Veilleux (3-16) faces No. 6 seed Colton McClain (24-5) in the prelims. The Ridgway junior pinned Veilleux in their first meeting.
AML: (5) Keaton Rounsville (Kane, jr., 8-0) vs. (4) Timmy McCauley (Cranberry, so., 10-2); (7) Brendan Dickinson (Smethport, jr., 18-6) vs. (2) Tyler Beal (Keystone, sr., 24-2); (8) William Peluso (Johnsonburg, sr., 14-9) vs. Mike Vandergrift (OV, fr., 6-13); Ben Cochran (Coudy, sr., 13-12) vs. (3) Bryce Town (Brookville, sr., 18-4). Veilleux decisioned Vandergrift, 3-1, while losing via pin to Peluso, Cochran, and Dickinson.

‘Team Bruno’ continues to grow

Lori Chase
July 3, 2014

When Bruno Iorfido volunteered to help out at a wrestling camp that former Pitt-Johnstown teammates Isaac Greeley and Aaron Rendos were running in Port Allegany in June 2003, the future seemed set for the UPJ star.

A three-time Academic All-American who finished eighth at that year’s NCAA Division II championships as a junior, Iorfido would shoot for the top of the podium in his senior year before returning to his hometown of Ridgway, where he’d won four consecutive District 9 titles as an Elker, to teach and coach at his alma mater.

“Bruno was at the first camp here. Then I did a camp with him two weeks later, and I remember that camp,” UPJ head coach Pat Pecora said. “They had a national champ who was there in the same weight class from Division I, and they wrestled for about 25 minutes. They were toe-to-toe. Everybody in the whole place was watching them. Afterward, I’m outside and I’m saying, ‘Man, you’re going to win the national title next year!’

“And then, it was the next week…”

Tragically, Iorfido and two friends were killed in an auto accident that July. Soon after, camp organizers Greeley, Rendos, and Sean Lathrop – who had been friends with the Iorfido family since ‘Little Bruno’ started wrestling in Junior Olympics – decided to honor their friend by renaming it in his honor, awarding scholarships in his memory, and trying to pass on the values he lived by.

“I felt and Sean felt that we owed this to Bruno. He was at our camp from the very beginning, and I’ve known Bruno since he was a kid,” Greeley said. “Bruno was like a younger brother to me. I miss him and I think about him all the time.

“He makes me make positive decisions in my life. Whenever I get to a point where I think, ‘I don’t need to do this the right way, I can always just do it the easy way,’ he’s always in the back of my head. I think he follows me around.”

The Bruno Iorfido Wrestling Camp has spread its wings since then, from a dozen or so campers in the early years to 122 this year – Rendos is hoping for 150 next year – and with clinicians making the trek to northern Pennsylvania from as far away as North Carolina, Atlanta, and even California.

“It’s beyond words,” Valerie Iorfido, Bruno’s mother, said at a Thursday-evening cookout that felt more like a giant family reunion.

“It’s amazing,” agreed his father, ‘Big Bruno.’ “Over the last 11 years as this thing has gotten bigger and better, and it’s producing state champions year after year, it so much defines the way that Bruno lived. This was his dream. He went to school to be an elementary teacher because he loved working with kids, and this is exactly his dream. This is his legacy.

“We’re amazed. I’m not good at Facebook, but I see stuff on Facebook about Team Bruno. I’ve seen Team Bruno hats in the Rocky Mountains, I’ve seen Team Bruno t-shirts at Disneyland in California, I’ve seen Team Bruno on a fishing boat in the Atlantic. People, they’re taking this Team Bruno and it’s snowballing.”

Brandon Newill, another Mountain Cat teammate of Iorfido’s who won a national championship at UPJ and was an assistant coach at the University at Buffalo before taking over the Kittanning High School program, brought 13 of his wrestlers to Port this year.

“For me personally, it’s really great to be able to bring that many kids and let them see that family atmosphere – what our team’s all about, what UPJ’s all about, and how we felt about Bruno, why we think this is so important,” he said.

“Really, the motto of the camp is for the kids to see what kind of person Bruno was and to emulate that in their life. That’s what we want. Anybody that knew Bruno, when they got to know him, he was such a warm, loving person that you wanted to be around him. He was such a good guy, such a great role model for kids. That’s kind of what we’re trying to do, make these kids understand why this camp is so important to us, why Bruno is so important to us.”

This year, the BIWC awarded two more $1,000 scholarships to bring the number to an even 20. Open to collegiate wrestlers entering their sophomore year who’ve spent at least three years at ‘Camp Bruno,’ the requirements are simple: Keep a 2.25 average, and write an essay explaining what wrestling and ‘Team Bruno’ have given to you – and how you plan to give back.

“People that are dedicated to the sport and dedicated to a positive lifestyle, people that emulate Bruno,” Greeley said. “We’re really proud to be able to do this. It’s not about money, it’s about helping kids out.”

Nick Budd (Port Allegany, Gannon) and Brian Beattie (Burrell, Mercyhurst) were this year’s winners, with Budd following in the footsteps of his Port High coach, B.J. Greenman, one of the first recipients.

“It’s an honor,” Budd said. “Like they said, it’s a family, and every year it grows. I’m honored to be a part of all of this.”

The ‘family’ theme of the camp was echoed by Pecora, the Division II Hall of Fame member and two-time national Coach of the Year, who noted the UPJ program’s motto of ‘Brothers for life.’

“It’s keeping Bruno alive, not only at Pitt-Johnstown but in this area, where he was so loved and where he lived,” he said. “Bruno was a very special person in my life. He touched a lot of people. That’s what this is about, the people that he touched, and also trying to talk to kids about who Bruno Iorfido was. He was a kid that worked hard at whatever he did. He was an Academic All-American for us. He was an All-American on the mat, he was an All-American in the classroom. He was a good person, he treated people right, he always had a smile on his face.

“The first team meeting we had, everybody’s excited for the beginning of the year and I’m talking about what we’re planning to accomplish, every time I turned I could see his eyes. They were just staring at me. I knew right away, ‘There’s a believer.’ I could see it in his eyes.

“I think what this camp stands for, what Isaac and the rest of the coaching staff are trying to do here, is install the things that we felt were the best of Bruno: The concentration, the hard work, his ethical conduct, his moral standards. I think that’s what these guys are passing on. Trying to tell the kids, ‘When the coach talks to you, look him in the eyes. When the teacher talks to you, look at him. When your parents are talking to you, look at them.’ Just little things like that, the things that Bruno stood for.”

The Iorfidos believe that Bruno still sends them signs, from a rainbow on the first morning of last year’s camp to the 1-in-1,000 odds that younger brother Beau – himself a teacher and assistant wrestling coach at Johnsonburg – would get a Sheetz order ticket with the number 157, Bruno’s weight class at UPJ. Perhaps another one could be found on the mat at Hershey last winter, when four consecutive wrestlers from ‘Team Bruno’ – Jason Nolf (145 pounds, coached by Newill at Kittanning), Steve Edwards (152, coached by Greeley at Burrell), Coudersport’s Kyle Bova (160, coached by Rendos), and Kane’s Evan Delong (170) – won PIAA state championships.

“This camp is a perfect opportunity to get where these guys are,” Greeley said. “I’m proud of these guys. When they won state championships, it’s funny – Aaron and I were in the back hugging. All we said was, ‘That’s Team Bruno out there. Look at that. Team Bruno, another one. Yes. Team Bruno. Boom.’

“When we saw that, we weren’t thinking about Burrell, Kittanning, Kane, Coudersport. We were thinking, we’re a family. This is a true family. This is a team. That’s what wrestling’s all about, being a brotherhood.”

A brotherhood, a family, that helps sustain the Iorfidos.

“It’s just so hard to believe,” ‘Big Bruno’ said. “A lot of people have tragedy in their life. But in a small town like this – and we’re not even from Port Allegany, we’re from Ridgway – how these people go above and beyond and keep his memory alive.”

Valerie added, “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, having their child be forgotten. That is the worst feeling for a parent. Through all this, he will never be forgotten, and that just makes us feel so good as parents.”

“It keeps us going,” her husband said.

And if Greeley and the rest of ‘Team Bruno’ have their way, it’ll keep going for a long, long time.

“Every year it seems to grow,” he said. “It’s only getting stronger, and we have no plans on stopping.”

 

(‘Little Bruno’ would have turned 34 on July 3.)

Week 4: Coudersport at Port Allegany

COUDERSPORT FALCONS (2-1)

PORT ALLEGANY GATORS (1-2)

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2013
PORT ALLEGANY, PENNSYLVANIA
7:00 PM ET

HISTORY

LAST 10 GAMES: Falcons lead, 7-3, although Gators have won the last three.

POSTSEASON RECORD: Tied, 1-1. Port knocked Coudy out of the 2003 District 9 Class A semifinals, with the Falcons returning the favor in the first round in 2007.

LAST MEETING: September 21, 2012 – Gators 70, Falcons 8

Matt Bodamer tossed seven touchdown passes for the second week in a row, four to Tyce Miller, as the Gators improved to 4-0. The 70 points by Port marked the fourth-highest total in team history according to Reporter-Argus archives, and the most since a 75-0 win over Sugar Grove (later to become Eisenhower) in 1951.

LAST TIME IN PORT ALLEGANY: October 30, 2010 – Gators 39, Falcons 8

On a chilly, blustery Saturday afternoon, Camrin Stuckey caught three touchdown passes from Bodamer to help the Gators (5-4) earn a District 9 playoff berth. Despite the loss, the Falcons (4-5) also clinched a spot in the postseason, but decided not to participate.

(Helmets courtesy of the Pennsylvania Helmet Project.)

Gator spikers fall in state playoff opener

Maybe it was when Port Allegany sophomore Brooke Roys stuffed Greensburg Central Catholic star Shannon Hurley at the net, then hammered home a kill of her own on the next volley. Or maybe it was when the Gators’ own big hitter, Rachel Taylor, followed a huge spike with back-to-back tip-ins to give Port a two-point lead late in the third game.

Pick your own highlight, but the District 7 (WPIAL) champion and No. 2-ranked Class A team in the state found itself in a battle with the District 9 runners-up.

“You know something’s happening,” Port coach Sharon Daniels said, “when the teams warming up for the next match stop to come over and watch.”

A late surge gave the Centurions (19-1) the win in that game and a 25-17, 25-18, 25-22 straight-set victory in Tuesday night’s PIAA playoff opener at North Allegheny High School, but the Gators (20-4) didn’t make it easy for them.

“This time of year, you have to think that everybody’s going to give you a match. That’s what we have to anticipate,” GCC coach Heather Meyer said.

Though Meyer’s squad is the one moving on, Daniels saw no cause for disappointment in the Gators’ performance.

“We matched up well on paper and we matched up as well on the court. Their D1-destined player has nothing on Rachel Taylor,” she said of Hurley, who’s already accepted a scholarship to play at Winthrop University next season. “Once we adjusted to the much quicker pace of play we were in all three sets. I thought for sure we had the third match. The passers were effectively getting the ball to Jenny (Shelley), who got the ball exactly where we needed it. She and Rachel combined for five or six kills in a row and we had them down 20-18.”

Shelley led the Gators with 8 service points (1 ace) and added 21 assists and 5 kills, while Taylor matched Hurley swing-for-swing – the sound of their booming spikes echoing throughout the North Allegheny gym – to finish with 16 kills, 5 service points (2 aces) and 2 blocks.

While the two four-year starters paced Port’s offense, the rest of the roster showed no sign of jitters in their first trip to the PIAA playoffs, with Daniels mentioning everyone in her post-match recap.

“Brooke Roys (4 kills, 2 blocks) stepped up big tonight,” she said. “Becca Lathrop (6 kills, 1 block) made her presence known in the third game with a hit rivaling Rachel’s. Ashley Woodruff, as she has all season, swung aggressively, causing mistakes that then set up our offense for the kill. Jena Young (6 points, 1 ace) moved to every ball and swung aggressively. Amber Naylor passed off the serve so well tonight. She played a tough backrow.

“Taylor Causer (6 points, 2 aces) and Bethy Bernardi (5 points, 1 ace) combined for 11 service points, the only errors coming with aggressive placement. They served smart and caused a number of free balls on which we capitalized. Rikki Rennels saw time on strong side and had a nice kill in the second set. Hannah Ernst stepped in three positions and passed well off the serve. Her defense improved with each set.”

Hurley led GCC with 17 kills, 8 points (1 ace) and a block, with fellow six-footers Leah Bisignani (7 kills, 1 block) and Ashley Scalise (6 kills) also adding to the offense and Rachel Moore (9 points, 4 aces) and Emma Dickson (9 points, 2 aces) serving well.

The Centurions move on to face another WPIAL Catholic school, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, in the second round after the Chargers dispatched D-6 champ Penns Manor 25-8, 25-18, 25-18. Clarion also won its PIAA opener, 25-18, 25-19, 25-21, over Bishop Canevin to advance to a matchup against D-10’s Maplewood in a battle of district champions.

While the Gators finish the year at 20-4, Daniels sees both plenty of reasons to be proud of their 2012 campaign and potential for more success in the seasons ahead.

“We are going to sorely miss our three seniors,” she said, “but it was exciting to see five juniors and three sophomores with substantial playing time in a state playoff match!”

***

Daniels also announced the Gators’ representatives on the North Tier League All-Star teams, with league Most Valuable Player Jenny Shelley, Rachel Taylor (last year’s MVP) and Becca Lathrop all being named to the first team and Ashley Woodruff and Brooke Roys earning second-team honors. Daniels was named Coach of the Year following Port’s second straight 14-0 run through the league.

Boys soccer: Port clinches UAVSL North

Oct. 4: Port Allegany 3, St. Marys 1

Tyler Kittilson scored two unassisted goals, once in each half, and Scotty Brookens added another tally to his record-setting career total as the Gators shrugged off an early St. Marys goal to sweep the season series from the Dutchmen in Upper Allegheny Valley Soccer League action last Thursday night.

“We’ve never beat them more than once in a year before. It’s great,” Port coach Aaron Clark said afterward. “Last year we had a chance to win the league title – all we had to do is tie them in the last game of the year and we would’ve won the league outright, and we choked it away at the very end. If we would’ve lost to them that would have complicated the league quite a bit, because Coudersport still only has one loss. This basically sets up a very big game on Tuesday with Coudersport.

“They scored quick, maybe five minutes in. They basically dribbled through our defense and we stabbed and overran the ball. It was not a good goal for us. Probably eight minutes after that, Scott was able to put one in from Sam Kysor and Ben Edgell – Ben punted it, Sam sent a beautiful through ball on the ground and it was Scott and the goalie. The goalie didn’t have a chance there.”

The goal was Brookens’ Big 30-leading 29th of the season and 65th overall, both Port High records that the senior forward continues to put out of reach.

With the score level and Port beginning to dominate possession after an early defensive lull, Kittilson corralled a loose ball deep in the St. Marys box and sent it past the keeper to give the Gators the lead at 11:16 of the first half.

The action stayed in front of the Dutchmen net in the second half, as Port barely missed on several scoring attempts before Kittilson snuck behind the defense for a breakaway on a St. Marys goal kick with 12:13 remaining.

“Most of the time those don’t really work,” Clark said. “He was sitting on the 18 – a lot of times, the younger forwards don’t see the point in standing on the 18 on a goal kick, but we tell them ‘Every once in a while, you may get a flubbed goal kick that’s going to go right to you and it’s just you and the goalie.’ So it seems like a pointless practice so many times, but right there it worked out. You could see St. Marys kind of – I don’t want to say quit, but they started conceding right there.”

Edgell had a quiet night in net, needing just five stops to pick up his 12th win of the season as the Gators ran their winning streak to eight games in advance of Tuesday’s UAVSL-deciding match at second-place Coudersport.

UPDATE: Four more goals by Brookens and one from Adam Koehler, plus Edgell’s sixth shutout of the season, earned the Gators their first solo UAVSL North crown with a 5-0 win over the Falcons on Tuesday night. Port, now 13-2 overall, travels to Kane on Thursday with a chance to complete a perfect 10-0 season in the league with a victory against the Wolves. Port won the first meeting, 7-0, with a hat trick from Brookens and an Edgell shutout.

Volleyball: Gators still unbeaten in NTL, claim Sheffield Tourney crown

As the North Tier League volleyball season hit its midpoint last week, Port Allegany continued its quest for a second straight undefeated run through the league. The Gators held serve on Thursday night, following last Tuesday’s thrilling five-set win at Coudersport with a 25-16, 25-13, 25-14 victory over Northern Potter as Jena Young (22 service points, 4 kills), Rachel Taylor (15 service points, 12 kills, 7 blocks), Ashley Woodruff (6 service points, 11 kills, 7 digs) and Jenny Shelley (22 assists) led the charge.

“The girls kept their intensity throughout the match. They were focused, passing well to set up the swing,” coach Sharon Daniels wrote in an email to the Reporter Argus.

Stepping out of the NTL for am 11-team tournament at Sheffield on Saturday morning, the Gators got off to a slow start without two of their top players, but rebounded to claim the tourney title with a championship-match win over Cranberry.

Coach Daniels’ post-match report:

“We started the day short starters Rachel Taylor, Ashley Woodruff (SATs). The line-up for the first round of pool play saw one senior, four juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

“We dropped two to Sheffield early 6-11, 9-11, then changed the line-up starting Brianna Bell (freshman JV, middle hitter) in the right side blocking position. Becca Lathrop had to fill the middle hitter position left vacant by Taylor. Jena Young, Amber Naylor and Rikki Rennells played their regular strong side positions and filled in for Woodruff. Bethy Bernardi played the back row opposite Brianna while our lone senior, Jenny Shelley, directed from the court. They gelled much better and we went on to defeat Rocky Grove, 11-5 and 11-4, then faced Oil City for the last match up of Round 1 and defeated them 11-2 and 12-10 (after trailing 10-6). Becca Lathrop was offensively and defensively sound. Roys, Bell, Young and Shelley added to the front row defense, blocking very well.

“The second round of pool play seeded the top four teams against one another. We had edged Youngsville on points for the fourth position in the top seeded pool. At this point we were playing with more confidence but were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Taylor and Woodruff. We came right out and split with Sheffield after having lost two to them earlier. ECC defeated us pretty easily 11-4, 11-8. Just as we finished against ECC our seniors arrived in the gym. We had nearly an hour wait before meeting Cranberry for our last match of the second round. To say the least, they were speechless as Ashley and Rachel joined the warm-up hitting drill. Their speed and strength served to pump up the entire team and everyone was swinging impressively. We dropped Cranberry 11-4 and then had a rotation of poor service receive, dug a hole and lost the second game 6-11.

“After another long break before the playoff seeds were posted, we faced Brockway, one game to 21. The team played very strong, passing well and hitting aggressively (21-8). Our next match was a rematch with ECC who had just defeated NTL rival Oswayo Valley. We won that match, 15-8, 11-15 (again service receive was our nemesis) and finished with a 15-11 score. Cranberry had defeated Eisenhower and had been waiting on the other court while we finished.

“The format now was best two out of three, first two to 25, third game to 15. We came out slow and trailed as much as 13-8 before slowly gaining momentum. We finally gained the lead when we arrived at 20. Our blockers made adjustments and our back row slid line on their outsides and hard cross court on their middles and brought up everything. Final of the first game, 25-23. We definitely had the momentum at this point. At 20-9 in the second game it was apparent that the Gators were going to earn the trophy. The final score, 25-16.

“Jenny Shelley was solid all day. She set well, making effective decisions, was aggressive on offense and was defensively sound. Becca Lathrop was a key player and our ‘go to’ hitter throughout pool play. Jena Young also stepped up her game swinging effectively and moving well on defense. Brooke Roys adjusted well to her blocking assignment. She forced the opponents to go around her helping our defense immensely. Rachel Taylor and Ashley Woodruff both immediately made their presence felt in the playoffs combining for 27 kills and even more importantly raised the level of intensity of the entire team.

“Other than one lull in service receive, the girls played consistently throughout the playoffs for 6 games straight. Service accuracy was impressive at 97/105. It was definitely our best all-around play of the season thus far.”

The Gators (11-0, 8-0 going into Tuesday’s match at Austin) return to their home court on Thursday to host Otto-Eldred, then hit the road twice next week for matches against Smethport and Cameron County.