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Field tough, notably at 125

February 26, 2009
By Todd Irwin,

For an example of just how tough the Southwest Regional Class AA Tournament is, you just have to peruse the 125-pound weight class.

Consider the combatants in this rugged weight:

n Tyrone's Ronnie Garbinsky is the top seed, is 33-0, placed second at 103 at the regional tournament last year and took fourth at the PIAA Championships.

"He is the number one seed, but you still have to go out there and win it," Tyrone coach Blair Packer said. "I think he's got a good chance to win it. It's not just his postseason experience that will help. He has a lot of experience outside of Pennsylvania. He's on a roll and everybody will have to keep up."

n Northern Bedford's Tyler Chesney is the second seed, is 26-2, won his fourth District 5 title Saturday and was selected the Outstanding Wrestler.

n Bedford's Devin Cook has lost two close bouts this season to Chesney, placed fourth at regionals at 119 last season and took eighth in Hershey.

Fact Box

If you go

What: Southwest Class AA Regional

Where: Cambria County War Memorial

Starts: Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.

Medal rounds: Third, fifth-place bouts, 5 p.m. Saturday; Finals, 6:30 p.m.

What's at stake: Top five at each weight advance to PIAA Championships

"The 125-pound class had a lot of really good kids," Bedford coach Brian Creps said. "At districts, Devin beat [North Star's Joe] Lascari, and Devin has been in on a lot of close matches. I feel pretty confident that we can beat some of these kids."

n Penn Cambria's Pat Myers is 36-3, losing two pulse-racing bouts to Garbinsky, and placed fifth in the Southwest at rugged 119 last season, going three tiebreakers to beat Westmont Hilltop's Trevor Kushner.

"I think there are seven or eight kids at that weight that could place in the top five," PC coach Todd Niebauer said. "Patrick has come to the conclusion the he is going to be in the toughest weight class every year. He's going to have to have an outstanding weekend to just get out."

n Lascari, who's been out most of the season, took third in the District 5 Tournament, but he finished third at the regional last year and fifth in Hershey.

n Burrell's Dave Makara is the District 7 champion, majored Shady Side Academy's Matthew Tadich in the finals, and is the third seed.

Those six and eight others at the weight are looking to place in the top five when the Southwest Regional begins at 1 p.m. Friday at the Cambria County War Memorial just to qualify for the PIAA Championships.

There's other subplots for the Mirror area 64-man contingent. One of the others is at 119, where there's a looming finals battle between Tyrone's 33-0 A.J. Schopp and Keystone Oaks' 39-0 Anthony Zanetta.

Zanetta is the top seed, while Schopp is the second seed. Zanetta beat Schopp, 4-3, in last year's 112-pound finals and went on to claim a state title. Zanetta is first in the Off the Mat rankings, while Schopp is second.

"I think a match with Zanetta would be one heck of a match," Packer said. "The better man is going to win. I think it's going to be a tactical match. They have two different styles, and I'll leave it at that."

The team race might be as close as some of the bouts at those rugged weights. Four of the teams wrestled at the PIAA Team Championships, including defending regional tournament champion Shady Side Academy.

District 7 champ Shady Side lost to Reynolds in the finals of the PIAA Duals, while District 5 winner Bedford took fourth, getting to the consolation finals with a nailbiting 30-29 win over District 6 champion Westmont Hilltop. District 7 runner-up Burrell went 1-2 at the Duals.

Bedford and Shady Side both have 10 wrestlers in the tournament, while the Hilltoppers have nine, and Burrell has eight. Westmont and all the other District 6 wrestlers have had two weeks off to prepare.

"Going into the tournament, and we want to get out as many as we can," Creps said. "We have our eyes on the [team] regional championship, but that's kind of secondary. The kids will be trying to take care of themselves.

"Shady Side has a lot of great kids. Westmont is bringing a lot of kids. There's going to be a lot of good teams coming. This is another big weekend. We've been in so many big weekends, and the kids have really enjoyed the atmosphere. I don't look for anything different than the last six weeks."

For most, however, the focus is on just placing in the top five and getting to Hershey.

"I try not to make a big deal about it, but the kids know what it's all about," Niebauer said. "We've done a lot of work to get to this point, and you've got to be greedy now."

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