Chestnut Ridge, Glendale aim to win regional team title
Chestnut Ridge and Glendale enter the Southwest Regional Tournament coming off of team championships at the District 5 and District 6 tournaments, respectively.
Both figure to push for the regional team title.
Ridge won its ninth straight District 5 title, had six champions and qualified 11 wrestlers to the regional tournament, while Glendale had two champs and qualified seven in winning its first title.
Ridge coach Josh Deputy wasn’t happy with how his team wrestled at districts, but he expects a better performance this week. The Lions have finished first or second in the regional tournament five straight years.
District 5 champs Calan Bollman (106), Kai Burkett (113), Nathan Holderbaum (120), Daniel Moore (160), Seth Holderbaum (182) and Duane Knisely (220) and runners-up Ross Dull (126) and Kaleb Miller (132) lead the Lions into IUP.
“We’re really looking forward to (the regional tournament),” Ridge coach Josh Deputy said. “We didn’t wrestle up to par at districts. Every time we’ve done that and came out flat, we’ve rebounded the next time extremely well. We’ve had two of the best practices of the year Monday and Tuesday. I think they’re really ready to go.
“I think we were a little flat coming off of State Duals. They knew I was disgusted, and they came in Monday knowing they messed up. Their confidence is high, and we like where we’re at. The goal is to always win the regional tournament as a team, and all 11 guys are going to have to pitch in to get that done.”
The Vikings will be led into the tournament by district champions Brock McMillen (132) and Cory Johnston (220) and runners-up Suds Dubler (126) and Seth Dudurich (195). The Vikings finished in fifth place in the regional team standings last year.
“We’re on a high right now coming off of the District 6 championship,” Glendale coach Billy Dubler said, “and our guys have had two really good days of practice. Our kids look sharp and better than ever.
“We’re taking half of our team, and I see a really good path of all seven of our guys to make it to Hershey. If our guys do what they did last weekend, get the bonus points when they can get them and we take all seven guys, I would think that would put us in the top three.”
The tournament, held at IUP’s Ed Frey Arena at the Kovalchick Convention Center & Athletic Complex, begins at 1 p.m. Friday on four mats. The quarterfinals and a round of consolations follow at 5 p.m. The tournament resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday with the second round of consolations, and the semifinals and third round of consys will follow at noon.
The seventh-place bouts will happen around 2 p.m. The championship finals and the fifth and third-place bouts are set for 5:45. The top six at each weight class qualify for states again this year.
There are 16 wrestlers at every weight, with the top seven from District 7, the top six from District 6 and the top three from District 5 at those weights.
The Mirror coverage area will be represented by 62 wrestlers, including 36 who advanced from District 5 and 26 from District 5. Philipsburg-Osceola’s contingent grew to seven when seventh-placer Chase Klinger (285) was added due to Westmont Hilltop’s sixth-placer Max Yonko suffering an injury.
Returning state champion McMillen and Bedford’s 30-0 Kaden Cassidy (138) are the area’s returning regional champs
“I expect Brock to repeat,” Billy Dubler said. “Brock is one of those kids who are always on. He has looked good the last two days.”
Burkett and Knisely are returning runners-up, as is P-O’s Chase Chapman (138).
“Kai took a tough loss at the Thomas Tournament, and he’s been working extremely hard trying to fix his mistakes,” Deputy said. “I know he’s going to give it his all.”
In addition to the team race, the 220-pound weight class is drawing a lot of interest. Johnston beat Mount Union’s returning state runner-up Jake Ryan for the first time in the district finals. They are in opposite brackets again, but Knisely could meet up with Ryan in the semis and Johnston in the finals.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how he responds,” Dubler said of Johnston. “I know he’s looking good at practice. Obviously he’s got to be wrestling good to get to the finals because you can’t look ahead at this regional. A lot of people look all the way to the finals and say ‘Hey, who’s he going to have in the finals – Ryan or Knisely?’ Well, we’ve to make it their first, so we’ve got to be focused.”
“Duane is ready,” Deputy said. “We know who were up against there, and he’s excited for the challenge. He’s been a man on a mission ever since the Brookville Duals. He’s looking really good, feels good. We’ll put our foot on the line, and we’re excited to compete against those two big dogs at that weight class.”
The tournament is normally so deep and so grueling, it usually is a preview of the PIAA Championships.
“It’s really tough,” Dubler said. “I think the Southwest Region is the toughest region in the state. It seems like every year we get a bunch of (state) champs come out of this region and a bunch of medal winners. I tell our guys if you finish in the top six in the region, you have a good shot at getting in the top eight of the podium at states.”
“I feel that our region is the toughest region,” Deputy said. “We like that. We’re glad that it’s the toughest region. I think that brings out the best in our guys, and that’s why we try to seek out the best competition all year-long.”