Mirror wrestling all-stars: State champions highlight 34th annual team
It was a banner 2016-17 wrestling season for state champions Central Cambria’s Max Murin (138), Chestnut Ridge’s Justin McCoy (145) and Huntingdon’s Jacob Oliver (170) and their teams.
Murin and Oliver captured their second state titles, while McCoy was the program’s first state champ since the late Gary Pfahler won in 2008 and the first that coach Greg Lazor has coached at Ridge.
Lazor led the Lions to their sixth straight District 5 title and finished second by three points to Bishop McCort in the Southwest Regional Tournament. Huntingdon, under the leadership of coach Jon Mykut, won its fourth straight District Class 2A title.
It’s time to name the best of the best with the 34th annual Mirror All-Star Team.
The Mirror coverage area has never had two wrestlers win their second titles in the same year, and so dominating seniors Murin (40-0 this season, 155-5 in his career) and Oliver (44-1 this season, 159-13 in his career) have been named Co-Wrestlers of the Year.
It’s the second such honor for both. Murin, this year’s District 6 Class 2A Outstanding Wrestler and the PIAA Championships OW, was named the Wrestler of the Year in 2015 after he won his first state title, and Oliver was named the Wrestler of the Year in 2016 when he won at 170.
Both wrestled in Saturday’s prestigious Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic at Pitt’s Fitzgerald Fieldhouse.
McCoy (43-3) will certainly be the favorite to be named the top wrestler next season.
Lazor (171-44 in his career) has been named the Mirror’s Coach of the Year for the fourth time in the last six years after guiding the Lions to a 16-4 record, their fifth straight District 5 Duals title and their postseason success.
More on the Wrestlers of the Year and the Coach of the Year in the following pages of the Mirror.
The first, second and honorable mention teams follow the order of the Mirror rankings, with some exceptions at deep weights like 160, where we have three first-teamers, and 113, where there are two.
106 pounds: Allen Simmons, Cambria Heights: The Highlander sophomore ranked No. 1 the entire season as he went 33-10 with 12 pins and two technical falls after going 16-8 as a freshman. Simmons placed fourth at the District 6 Tournament, but he was third at the Southwest Regional to qualify for the state tournament.
113 pounds: Dylan Williams, Chestnut Ridge: A senior and two-time first-team all-star, Williams went 31-11, but he had the tournament of his life at the Southwest Regional, where he hadn’t had much luck in the past.
After finishing second to Everett’s Garret Cornell at the District 5 Tournament, he won the 113-pound title at the regional tournament by beating three wrestlers ranked ahead of him in the Off The Mat rankings, including a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Westmont Hilltop’s Derrick Christie in the finals. Williams (84-26 in his career) didn’t get a chance to wrestle at states because a tournament doctor ruled that he had mat herpes.
113 pounds: Garret Cornell, Everett: A sophomore, Cornell went 33-6 with 20 pins, won a District 5 title by beating Williams and qualified for his second state tournament trip by taking fifth at the Southwest Regional. Cornell won his first two bouts at states, including Ridgway’s fourth-ranked Kyle Bush, 9-5, before finishing 2-2, just missing the placing round by a win. Cornell is 63-13 in his first two years.
120 pounds: Hunter Hileman, Altoona: The Mountain Lion senior went 30-9, seven major decisions and four technical falls and breezed to a District 6 Class 3A title with two majors. Hileman made the Northwest Regional semifinals before suffering a 5-0 ultimate tiebreaker loss to St. Marys’ eventual champ Tyler Dilley. He bounced back to take third and qualify for his first state tournament
A two-time honorable mention selection, Hileman was 93-45 in his career.
126 pounds: Alex Richner, Moshannon Valley: The only freshman on the first team, Richner posted a 31-12 record, finished second at the District 6 Tournament, avenged his finals loss to Huntingdon’s Izac Benson in the regional consolations and finished sixth at IUP to qualify for states.
132 pounds: Cole Manley, Altoona: After starting the season late because of shoulder surgery rehab, Manley became only the second Mountain Lion to win four District 6 Class 3A titles, the first to win three Northwest Regional titles and finished fifth at Hershey this season for his third state medal. His two losses — his only two of the season — at Hershey were by ultimate tiebreaker and tiebreaker.
The Virginia Tech recruit, who was second at Hershey as a sophomore and third as a junior, went 24-2 with 13 pins and four technical falls this season and was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the Ultimate Warrior Tournament and the Border Brawl. Manley, a three-time Mirror first-team all-star, went 118-16 in his career.
145 pounds: Justin McCoy, Chestnut Ridge: What a junior season it was for McCoy, who made his third state medal his most prized won, beating Bishop McDevitt’s John Pipa, 5-2, to claim the 145-pound state title. McCoy has previously placed sixth as a freshman and seventh as a sophomore.
McCoy went 43-3 with 21 pins and six technical falls, captured his third District 5 title and earned his first Southwest Regional gold medal with a 3-2 win over Freedom’s Kody Komara. A three-time Mirror first-team all-star and a two-time Thomas Tournament champion, McCoy is 122-16 with 54 pins in his career.
152 pounds: Brock Biddle, Central: Biddle makes the first team for the first time after going 39-6 and tying Oliver for the area lead in pins with 26. Biddle finished second at the District 6 Tournament, dropping a hard-fought 6-5 decision to Ligonier Valley’s eventual state runner-up Robbie Patrick. He finished second to Patrick at regionals to earn a third trip to states.
Biddle, a 132-pounder last season, earned his first state medal with a fourth-place finish, pinning three straight opponents, including one on a tilt of Pen Argyl’s Chase Anklam in the consolation semifinals. Anklam flipped off the referee afterward, costing him a medal. A two-time Mirror second-teamer, Biddle was 134-28 with 81 pins in his career, both of which are school records.
160 pounds: Seth Baney, Huntingdon: The Bearcat senior returns to the first team after earning his second state medal in his third state tournament, placing third in Hershey after taking fourth last season. The dangerous Baney went 39-6 with 16 pins after missing the start of the season with a shoulder injury.
He finished second at the District 6 Tournament, losing to Brown in the ultimate tiebreaker, 4-3, and third in the Southwest Regional, losing to Deremer, 3-2, in the semifinals. Baney avenged his loss to Brown, 3-1 in overtime, in the state semifinals. Bound for the Navy to be a nuclear engineer, Baney went 119-27 with 57 pins in his career.
160 pounds: Larry Brown, Moshannon Valley: The Black Knight senior went 39-3, with two of his losses coming at states to Wyalusing’s eventual champion Creighton Edsell, 4-2, in a controversial semifinal and to Baney. Brown finished fifth for his first state medal in third Hershey appearance.
Brown, who returns to the first team after being recognized as a sophomore, followed up his second district title by winning his first regional title in a gutsy performance, capturing two close victories and winning by injury default over Deremer in the tiebreakers in the finals. Brown had six pins in 22 seconds or less this season, and he went 111-18 in his career.
160 pounds: Morgan Deremer, Chestnut Ridge: The Ridge senior went 35-8 with five major decisions, captured his second District 5 title and made the regional finals with a 3-2 win over Baney. In the finals, his knee hit the concrete off the mat when Brown defended a deep shot in overtime with a thrown, and he had to default in the tiebreakers.
Deremer lost in the third round of consolations to come up one win shy of earning his second state medal. He went 118-46 in his career.
182 pounds: Wes Graham, Everett: The Everett senior went 29-5 with 12 pins wrestling at 182 and 195, and he won his second District 5 title. Graham earned his 100th career victory in a 4-3 win over Mount Union’s Tucker Helfrick in the second round of consolations at regionals, but he came up a win shy of making his second state tournament.
195 pounds: Parker McClellan, Altoona: It was a breakout season for the Mountain Lion junior, who went 33-7 with 19 pins and five major decisions. McClellan, who was 26-12 last season at 170, pinned his way to his first District 6 Class 3A title and finished second at regionals to make the state tournament for the first time. He is 75-39 in his career.
220 pounds: Landon Fisher, Huntingdon: After going 23-18 as a sophomore, Fisher turned it up a couple notches this season, going 34-13 with 13 pins as a junior. He finished second to Bishop McCort’s eventual state runner-up Josiah Jones at districts and regionals to make his first state tournament. He went 1-2 at states, coming up a win shy of making the medal round.
285 pounds: Hunter Gill, Hollidaysburg: Gill is on the Mirror first team for the third time in his career. The Golden Tiger senior went 30-7, won his first District 6 Class 3A title by avenging two regular season losses, including a 5-2 win over Central Mountain’s Richard Thompson in the finals. He placed second at the Northwest Regional to qualify for his second state tournament.
He went 1-2 at states, just missing the medal round, as he was hampered by an injury. Gill, who will play football at Juniata College, finished 105-41 in his career.