Blairsville wrestlers Noah Tarr, Drew Doak and Scott Thompson didn’t get crowned regional champs on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean the three Bobcats have abandoned their aspirations to capture state gold.
Tarr (145 pounds), Doak (152) and Thompson (182) will each get their crack at winning gold medals when the trio travels to the 76th annual PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships, which run from Thursday to Saturday at Hershey’s Giant Center.
Ligonier Valley brothers Justin (113) and Joshua Patrick (120), along with Derry’s Micky Phillippi (113), will join Tarr, Doak and Thompson in their pursuit of state titles.
Last year, Justin and Joshua Patrick placed fourth and fifth, and Thompson and Doak took sixth and seventh, respectively.
“Some returning qualifiers may set goals of just improving, but not these guys,” first-year Blairsville coach D.J. Doak said of Tarr, Doak and Thompson, all District 6 champs. “They’re going to Hershey to win. All three of them.”
Tarr (37-3), a senior and a three-time state qualifier who will be seeking his first medal, placed third at the PIAA Southwest Regional tournament after a second-place finish last year. He will square off with Northeast Regional runner-up Billy Barnes, of Williamson, in the first round.
“He’s right there with the best competition in the state,” D.J. Doak said. “He got some good workouts under his belt this week and now he’s ready to roll. He’s wants to win it all and I don’t think he’ll be satisfied with anything less.”
Sophomore Drew Doak (36-2), a regional runner-up, suffered just his second loss of the season in the finals at regionals. Doak dropped a 3-1 decision to Freedom’s Boe Bonzo, a senior he defeated 5-1 earlier in the year in the finals of the Southmoreland tournament.
Doak will tangle with the third-place finisher from the Southeast Regional tournament, Travis Buddock of Saucon Valley, in the first round.
“We spend all year trying to find all these guys the best competition to get them ready for this tournament,” D.J. Doak said. “Drew’s no different. He’s wrestled at the national level and at the world level, so he’s used to facing the best competition in the country, and that’s really gotten him ready. He’s been focused all week and he’s definitely on a mission.”
Thompson (15-1), also a sophomore and a regional runner-up, suffered his first loss of the year in the regional finals at the hands of the state’s top-ranked 182-pounder, Dakota DesLauriers of Burrell. DesLauriers, a returning state runner-up, earned a 13-4 major-decision win over Thompson. D.J. Doak said his ability to last three periods with the undefeated DesLauriers should boost Thompson’s confidence heading into the state tournament.
“He did just fine out there and that was against the top kid in the state,” D.J. Doak said of Thompson, who will face the third-place finisher from the Northwest Regional tournament, Aaron Hook of Redbank Valley, in the first round. “I actually think it’s going to give him some extra confidence. Now he knows he can last three periods with a kid like Dakota.”
Senior Joshua Patrick (27-0) captured his first regional crown after placing third the last three seasons. A three-time district champion, Patrick will lock horns with the fourth-place finisher from the Southeast Regional tournament, Josh Giorgio of Schuylkill Valley, in the first round.
Junior Justin Patrick (33-4), a regional champion at 106 as a sophomore, dropped a 4-3 decision to South Fayette’s Seth Carr in the finals at regionals. Patrick will take on the third-place finisher from the Northeast Regional tournament, Eric Hunt of Warrior Run, in the first round.
Joshua Patrick admitted that it’s both advantageous and stressful to compete alongside his brother in the postseason.
“It was really tough to see him lose but I had to push it out of my mind and keep a good mentality for my match,” Joshua said of Justin’s loss in the regional finals. “But we both have some stuff we need to work on and that’s the advantage of having a brother that’s also a good workout partner. We’re going to push each other this week in practice and work on all the things that we need to improve on and we’ll do it together.”
A section and WPIAL champ, Phillippi (38-4) became just the fourth wrestler in Derry’s history to reach the state tournament in his freshman campaign with a third-place showing at regionals.
In perhaps the most captivating match of the tournament, Phillippi saw his title hopes get crushed at regionals when he got pinned by nemesis Justin Patrick in a back-and-forth battle in the semifinals. Patrick also handed Phillippi his third loss of the season in the semifinals of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Tournament.
Phillippi will do battle with Northeast Regional runner-up, A.J. Luton of Wilkes-Barre GAR, in the first round.
Two Punxsutawney wrestlers will also compete at states.
Freshman Kaleb Young (26-1), the Northwest Region champion at 126 pounds, will face off against Boyertown junior Eddie Kriczky (38-10); and junior Joel Bowers (24-2) will take on Middletown’s Zach Ulerick (33-2) in the 120-pound class.