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Welcome to wrestling’s Sweet 16

PIAA West Super Regionals

CLASS 3A TOURNAMENT

Saturday at Altoona Fieldhouse

Weights 106-138

Quarterfinals: 8:30 a.m., Semifinals and consolations: 9:15 a.m., Consolation semifinals: 10:15 a.m., Finals and consolation finals: 11:15 a.m.

Weights 145-285

Quarterfinals: 2:45 p.m., Semifinals and consolations: 3:30 p.m., Consolation semifinals: 4:45 p.m., Finals, third and fifth-place bouts: 5:30 p.m.

Limited fan attendance: 2 tickets per qualifier

Streamed by: Flo Wrestling

CLASS 2A TOURNAMENT

Saturday at IUP’s Ed Fry Arena at the Kovalchick Complex

Weights 106-138

Quarterfinals: 8 a.m., Semifinals and consolations: 9:15 a.m., Consolation semifinals: 3:30 p.m., Finals and consolation finals: 4:30 p.m.

Weights 145-285

Quarterfinals: 12 p.m., Semifinals and consolations: 1:15 p.m., Consolation semifinals: 6:30 p.m., Finals, third and fifth-place bouts: 7:30 a.m.

Limited fan attendance: 2 tickets per qualifier

Streamed by: Flo Wrestling

Seven area wrestlers — five in Class 2A and two in Class 3A — have survived and advanced past the regional tournaments.

Normally, those seven wrestlers would be getting ready to the wrestle in the PIAA Championships. But this COVID-19-affected season is far from a normal year. This week they’ve been preparing for Saturday’s inaugural West Super Regional tournaments in Altoona and IUP, respectively.

There are eight wrestlers at every weight in two Super Regional tournaments in both classes. That means only 16 wrestlers at every weight are left in both classes. In previous years, the state tournament had 20-man weight classes. The PIAA is actually recognizing the survivors as state qualifiers, so the tournament name is misleading.

Call it wrestling’s version of college basketball’s Sweet 16.

“To me, the name of this tournament is wrong,” Central coach Dave Marko said. “I’m just not real nuts about that name because these kids are all state qualifiers as far as I’m concerned.”

“This is like the first two rounds of the state tournament in my opinion,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “Heck, you’re down to less guys now than you would if you were at the state tournament.”

The Class 3A Eastern Super Regional is at Quakertown, while the Class 2A Eastern Super Regional is at Pottsville.

The top four placewinners at every weight from all of the Super Regionals advance to the next weekend’s PIAA Championships at the Giant Center.

Flo Wrestling is streaming all of the tournaments. Live brackets are on Flo Arena.

Here’s a closer look at the Western Super Regionals:

Sarbo part of loaded 138

The unbelievable depth of these tournaments can be seen in the 138-pound weight class of the Class 3A Super Regional at the Altoona Fieldhouse.

Altoona’s Matt Sarbo, a four-time state qualifier who placed seventh as a freshman, is one of six wrestlers at the weight who have placed in the top eight at their weight classes in previous state tournaments. All of the wrestlers have at least qualified for a state tournament.

Six of the top seven wrestlers in the state at 138 in the PA Power Wrestling rankings are in this tournament.

The sixth-ranked Sarbo (10-1) is opening in the quarterfinals with Franklin Regional third-ranked junior Finn Solomon (28-2), who was a state runner-up as a freshman but didn’t qualify as a sophomore.

The winner of that bout faces either Chartiers Valley’s fifth-ranked sophomore Dylan Evans (29-5), a returning eighth-placer, or Central Dauphin’s fourth-ranked returning state fifth-placer Josh Miller (22-1).

Waynesburg’s second-ranked two-time state placer Cole Homet (25-1), who has two close wins over Sarbo, and DuBois’ seventh-ranked returning eighth-placer Chandler Ho (22-4) are at the top of the weight class.

“He’s going to have to really wrestle tough,” Gilbert said, “and definitely take it one match at a time. We better be ready to go and focused on everything this week. That means proper nutrition, making weight the right way, proper warmup and just (be) mentally ready to wrestle.”

One advantage that Sarbo holds over all of the other wrestlers is that the tournament is at home. Sarbo has only lost once at home in four years — a 2-1 setback to DuBois’ Trenton Donahue as a freshman in the dual meet.

“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise for our program,” Gilbert said. “Our kids get to sleep in their own beds. They get to go to their own lockers. They’re able to eat dinner with their family the night before. Hopefully we can take advantage of that situation.”

Altoona sophomore Caleb Fasick (12-7) is also looking to squeeze into the state tournament at 120 pounds.

“He definitely has a tough road to hoe,” Gilbert said. “He’s really improved the last two weeks in the postseason. We’ll see what he can do this week.”

The Super Regional, which includes regional qualifiers from the Southwest and Southcentral, begins at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday with the quarterfinals for the weight classes from 106 to 138. The finals and consolation finals for those weights are set for 11:15 a.m.

The quarterfinals for weights from 145 to 285 begin at 2:45 p.m. The medal rounds, including fifth-place bouts, for those weights are set for 5:30 p.m.

McMillen set to battle again

Glendale two-time state champion Brock McMillen has already waged a couple battles at 138 in the District 6 finals against Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy Amonn Ohl and in the Southwest Regional finals against Ian Oswalt.

If all goes well for the top-ranked McMillen (16-0), he’ll likely face the fourth-ranked Ohl (9-3) in the semifinals. McMillen earned a bloody 5-3 win over Ohl in the district finals.

A win would likely put him in the finals in a rematch with the second-ranked Oswalt (19-1). McMillen earned his third regional title last week with a 5-2 win over Oswalt.

“I feel like it could be me and him or me and Amonn Ohl (again),” McMillen said. “I feel like our region is going to dominate. We’ll probably be seeing each other for the next couple weeks.”

McMillen is joined by teammate Suds Dubler (13-3), a regional third-placer, Tyrone regional runner-up Hunter Walk (16-3), Cambria Heights third-placer Ian Eckenrode (16-1) and Central freshman and regional fifth-placer Andrew McMonagle (8-5).

Walk could face Reynolds two-time state champ and Penn State commit Gary Steen (25-0) in the semifinals. Bishop McCort’s top-ranked Mason Gibson (16-0) awaits in the other bracket.

“I like where he sits in the bracket,” Tyrone coach Terry Tate said of the fifth-ranked Walk. “He’s got a tough first match (with Fort LeBoeuf’s 15th-ranked JoJo Przybycien), but I think if he wrestles smart and wrestles his match, I think he can get onto the semis.

“You’ve got to think he’s got a shot at wrestling Steen, which I’m sort of looking forward to seeing. I don’t want to look ahead because every kid at this level you wrestle is going to be good.”

The Super Regional, which includes the Northwest Regional qualifiers, starts at 8 a.m. at IUP’s Kovalchick Complex with the quarterfinals for the wrestlers from 106 to 138. The semifinals and consolations for that group are at 9:15. The consy semifinal round is slated for 3:30 p.m., and the finals follow at 4:30.

The wrestlers from 145 to 285 pounds start at noon, and the semifinals and consolations follow at 1:15. The consy semis are set for 6:30, and the medal round, including fifth place, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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