JOHNSTOWN — Opening day unfolded precisely as planned for the seven area wrestlers who earned top-five seeds in Friday’s PIAA Southwest Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Cambria County War Memorial arena.
All seven of the area’s seeded wrestlers advanced to this morning’s semifinal-round, which began at 11 a.m.
The top five wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the PIAA championships, which begin Thursday at Hershey’s Giant Center.
The following area wrestlers advanced in the winner’s bracket: Blairsville’s Noah Tarr (145 pounds), Drew Doak (152) and Scott Thompson (182); Ligonier Valley brothers Justin (113) and Joshua Patrick (120); Derry’s Micky Phillippi (113); and United’s Tyler Oliver (195).
Meanwhile, United’s Charles Hropovich (182) and Marion Center’s David Wiles (106) and Phil Crook (152) were eliminated in second-round consolation bouts.
Tarr (35-2), a senior and district champion who placed second at regionals a year ago at 138, received a first-round bye and then thumped West Greene’s Matt Johnston, 10-2, in the quarterfinals.
A two-time state qualifier, the top-seeded Tarr will lock horns with fourth-seeded Tanner Sutton (Chartiers-Houston) in the semifinals.
“There’s definitely an ‘X’ on Noah’s back,” first-year Blairsville coach D.J. Doak said.
“But there’s an ‘X’ on your back in every round in this tournament. You don’t wrestle a bad kid the whole way through. But as long as he wrestles the way he did today he’ll win it all.”
Doak’s son, sophomore and returning regional runner-up, Drew Doak (35-1), earned a first-round bye before grinding out a 5-3 win over South Fayette’s Grant Fetchet in the quarterfinals.
Doak broke a 2-2 tie in the third period with an escape and a takedown.
The top-seeded Doak, a seventh-place finisher at states last year, will square off with fifth-seeded Taylor Cahill (Conemaugh Township) in the semifinals.
“We talk about it all the time. We say, ‘Build on your lead and good things will happen,’” D.J. Doak said.
“We talk about it all the time. Get that last takedown and seal the match, and that’s exactly what he did.”
After a first-round bye, second-seeded Thompson (14-0), a sophomore who placed third at regionals last year, scored a takedown 10 seconds into the bout and then breezed past Mount Pleasant’s Justin Overly, 8-1, in the quarterfinals.
Thompson, a sixth-place finisher at states last year, will face third-seeded Terrell Fields (Valley) in the semifinals.
“Scotty looked great,” D.J. Doak said. “In top position, he hit a few tilts, which we were preaching all week. We kept telling our guys, ‘If you get a takedown and then you get a tilt, you’re going to win.’”
Senior Josh Patrick (25-0), a third-place finisher at 113 last season at regionals, decked South Fayette’s Mike Carr in 1 minute, 3 seconds in the quarterfinals.
Patrick, a two-time state placewinner and the No. 2 seed, will tangle with third-seeded Nathan Reckner (South Side Beaver) in the semifinals.
Joshua’s younger brother, junior Justin Patrick (32-3), blanked Bentworth’s Jake Rothka, 7-0, in the first round before shellacking Meyersdale’s Bill Charlton, 14-2, in the quarterfinals.
The third-seeded Patrick, a regional champion at 106 last year, will take on second-seeded Phillippi in the semifinals.
Phillippi (36-3), the WPIAL champion, coasted past Central’s Kale Burket. Phillippi had a 6-0 lead in the third period when Burket suffered a knee injury and couldn’t continue. Phillippi had a first-round bye.
In today’s semifinals, second-seeded Phillippi will try to avenge a loss he suffered at the hands of Patrick in the semifinals of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Tournament on Jan. 11.
“We’re excited to get another shot at Justin,” Derry coach Mike Weinell said. “I think we can get him this time. Micky’s wrestling well and wrestling with confidence and that’s the most important thing.”
Sophomore Oliver (28-1) notched a pair of workmanlike wins in his first-ever matches at regionals. The fifth-seeded Oliver first nipped Ellwood City’s Brad Grinnen, 4-3, in overtime in the first round. He then scored a third-period takedown to edge South Allegheny’s Seth Hitchens, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
Oliver, a runner-up at districts, will face top-seeded Garrett Vulcano (Chartiers-Houston) in the semifinals.
“It came down to conditioning and he (Hitchens) just didn’t want to shoot in the third period,” first-year United coach Tim Riskus said. “His (Hitchens’) legs were straight on the restart. When someone has straight legs on a restart it usually means they’re gassed. Fortunately (Oliver’s) in great condition because he trains outside of practice. He really trains a lot and he wants to progress. I just wish every kid on the team had that kind of heart.”
NOTES: Crook placed fifth at districts and initially didn’t qualify for regionals. However, an injury to West Branch’s Luke Slippey gave Crook, an alternate in the weight class, a place in the bracket.