Three area wrestlers reached today's noon semifinals in the Northwest AAA Regional Tournament with quarterfinal wins Friday night at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.
Two did so with exclamation points.
Altoona sophomore T.J. Brandt (112 pounds), Hollidaysburg senior Damian Lascoli (160), and Philipsburg-Osceola junior Logan Walstrom (145) each punched their tickets to today's semifinal round, where a victory will guarantee them a spot in tonight's 6:30 p.m. championship finals, and, even more importantly, a berth in next weekend's PIAA, Class AAA state tournament at Hershey's Giant Center.
Brandt (30-3 this season) and Lascoli (28-8), both returning state qualifiers, breezed through their quarterfinal matches Friday, while Walstrom (29-11) scored a couple solid, if less emphatic, victories.
Brandt drew a preliminary-round bye at 112, then tech-falled DuBois junior Anthony Vizza, 15-0 in 2:30 in the quarterfinals to earn a semifinal matchup against Erie McDowell sophomore Paul Deitz (23-9).
"I wrestled tough, and stayed in position,'' Brandt said of his quarterfinal effort. "I'm just taking one match at a time."
Lascoli tech-falled his preliminary-round opponent, DuBois sophomore Mike Kennelly, 19-3 in 4:53, before pinning Perry senior Mike Banks in 4:34 in the quarterfinals. Lascoli gets Meadville junior Zack Towers, a District 10 champ, in the semis.
"I didn't feel that I was moving too well in the first match, but in the second match, I got more into it and wrestled to the best of my ability,'' Lascoli said.
Hollidaysburg coach Mike Moore credited Lascoli with a strong start to the tournament.
"He's one of the top guys in the weight class,'' Moore said. "He outclasssed both of the guys he wrestled here tonight. It was nice to see him get off to the start he had. He was really able to open up."
Brandt and Lascoli both figure to have tougher matches in the semis. Brandt draws Deitz, a District 10 champ who advanced with 6-2 quarterfinal win over Punxsutawney's Joel Bowers.
"I'm sure it will be a good match,'' Brandt said of his matchup with Deitz.
Lascoli draws returning regional runner-up Towers (32-2), who used a four-point move in the waning seconds of the third period for a 5-2 win over Bald Eagle Area's Coleman Hoffman in Friday's quarters.
"He beat me, 6-3 last year at this regional,'' Lascoli said of Towers. "He's just non-stop on your head all the time. I think if I can stay focused, I can come out with a win.''
Walstrom maintained excellent focus in gutting out a 2-1 preliminary-round win over Westmont Hilltop junior Tanner Patton. In the quarters, Walstrom used a big five-point move at the end of the second period as a springboard for an 11-4 win over DuBois senior Chris Powers. Walstrom's semifinal opponent will be District 10 champion Tyler Parsons (24-5) , a senior from Erie Cathedral Prep.
Walstrom said he usually tries to go on the offensive in his matches.
"I just needed to win, and I'm always trying to score as many points as I can,'' Walstrom said. "Winning [two matches Friday] definitely got me going for [the semifinals]. I knew coming into [Friday's wrestling] that I would be facing two tough kids. I wasn't going to have anything easy."
P-O coach Tim McCamley said that Walstrom has been hampered by a gimpy knee, but performed well Friday.
"He banged up his knee at the beginning of the week, and [the injury] has hindered him on some of his shots, but he's very physical, and he used his quickness well tonight,'' McCamley said of Walstrom.
Area wrestlers remaining alive in the wrestlebacks with wins in Friday's first-round consolations were Hollidaysburg's Damian Huff (103) and Laret Miller (171), Altoona's Mante Barnes (189) and Braeden Luciano (285), and Philipsburg-Osceola's Bryan Descavich (103), Kenny Myers (135) and Lucas Greenawalt (152).
Philipsburg brought four wrestlers to the regional, and all of them won at least one match Friday.
"We made a good showing,'' McCamley said.
Altoona's Jake Hines (140 pounds) was eliminated in the first-round consys.
Central Mountain leads the team race with 44.5 team points, followed by second-place Bald Eagle Area (41), third-place Bellefonte (37.5), fourth-place Erie Cathedral Prep (36.5) and fifth-place Erie McDowell (35.5).