The future appeared equally promising for each of the eight area wrestlers that advanced to the PIAA championships at the Giant Center in Hershey in early March.
The Blairsville trio of Noah Tarr, Drew Doak and Scott Thompson, Ligonier Valley brothers Justin and Joshua Patrick, and Punxsutawney’s Joel Bowers were each making a second straight appearance at states. A pair of budding freshmen, Derry’s Micky Phillippi and Punxsutawney’s Kaleb Young, also qualified for the big dance.
When the lights dimmed in Hershey, however, Phillippi, a freshman who placed third at the Southwest Regional tournament, had stolen the show by completing a genuine Cinderella story.
Phillippi (42-4) completed a masterful three-day performance at the Giant Center and became just the second wrestler in area history to claim a state title as a freshman by earning a captivating 1-0 win over South Fayette senior Seth Carr in the Class AA 113-pound final.
Phillippi leads a group of 20 wrestlers on the 2012-13 All-Gazette Wrestling Team.
In addition to the eight state qualifiers, the selections are: Blairsville’s Alex Tripodis, Lucas Palmer, Luke White and Bobby Thompson; Derry’s Stone Kepple; Marion Center’s David Wiles, Brandon Heberling and Phil Crook; United’s Charles Hropovich, Andrew Deitman and Tyler Oliver; and West Shamokin’s Brendan Glover.
Ligonier Valley’s Justin Patrick (37-6), a junior, and his older brother, Joshua (30-2), a senior, placed fourth and fifth, respectively, at states.
Patrick became the first wrestler in Ligonier Valley history to earn a state medal for a third straight year and the school’s first four-time state qualifier.
The Bobcats’ Doak (39-4), a sophomore, became the first wrestler in school history to earn state medals in his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
Doak also became the first Blairsville sophomore to reach 80 career wins.
First-year Blairsville coach D.J. Doak garnered the All-Gazette Coach of the Year award after steering the Bobcats to a school-best 16 wins and their first playoff victory in the District 6 team duals.
D.J. Doak also coached three Bobcats —Tarr, Drew Doak and Scott Thompson — to district crowns for the first time in school history.
Here is a look at each member of the All-Gazette team.
JOEL BOWERS: The Punxsutawney junior won 24 matches for the second consecutive season and punched his second straight ticket to Hershey. Bowers, a 120-pounder, placed third at the Northwest Regional tournament and won the District 9 tournament for the second straight year.
PHIL CROOK: Crook, a junior, placed fifth at the District 6 tournament and initially failed to qualify for the Southwest Regional tournament. An injury to a regional qualifier in the 152-pound bracket opened the door for Crook to compete in the tournament for the second straight season.
Crook won one match in the consolation bracket before being eliminated. He finished with a record of 29-9 and sports a career mark of 82-26.
ANDREW DEITMAN: After a stellar regular season in which he lost just two matches at 220 pounds, Deitman, a sophomore, advanced to the quarterfinals in the District 6 tournament, where he got edged by the No. 2 seed, Reynold Maines, of West Branch, 5-4.
Deitman finished the season with a record of 25-4.
DREW DOAK: Doak, a 152-pounder, was the Southwest Regional runner-up for the second straight season. He edged Southern Columbia’s Blake Marks, 3-2, in the seventh- and eighth-place consolation bout at states.
Doak won his second consecutive District 6 title when he outlasted Cambria Heights’ Levi Niebauer, 6-4, in the finals.
A seventh-place finisher at states last season, Doak ran his career record to 81-12.
“He’s learned so much the last two years as a freshman and sophomore at Hershey,” D.J. Doak said of his son. “He knows what it takes now to get on top of the podium, and he’s hungrier than ever to go after it.”
BRENDAN GLOVER: Glover, a sophomore, won 25 matches and placed third at the WPIAL Section 3-AA tournament at 160 pounds, advancing to the WPIAL championships for the second straight year.
Glover, who didn’t compete in the WPIAL tournament because of an injury, owns a career mark of 46-22.
BRANDON HEBERLING: Heberling, a junior, plucked the No. 4 seed at 138 pounds in the District 6 tournament but placed fifth and failed to advance to regionals for the third straight season.
Heberling survived until the consolation semifinals, where he dropped a 7-4 decision to third-seeded Parker Bumbarger, of West Branch.
Heberling won 26 matches and holds a career record of 76-29.
CHARLES HROPOVICH: A senior, Hropovich placed fourth in District 6 at 182 pounds to notch his first berth in regionals.
Hropovich finished 1-2 at regionals and capped the year with a 20-6 record.
STONE KEPPLE: A feisty freshman who won 27 matches, nine by pin, Kepple placed third at the WPIAL Section 2-AA tournament.
Kepple went 1-2 in the WPIAL tournament and was eliminated by Southmoreland’s Evan Myers, an opponent Kepple defeated 6-2 in the third- and fourth-place consolation bout at sections.
TYLER OLIVER: Oliver wrestled like a senior in a sophomore’s skin the bulk of the season at 195 pounds, placing second in District 6 and then advancing to the semifinals at regionals.
Oliver, however, suffered three consecutive frustrating losses at regionals and finished sixth, falling one place shy of punching his first ticket to states.
He amassed a record of 28-4.
LUCAS PALMER: Palmer, a senior, racked up a career-high 28 wins and placed sixth at the District 6 tournament at 138 pounds.
The No. 6 seed, Palmer advanced to the consolation semifinals at districts, where he lost in heartbreaking fashion to fifth-seeded Nick Hoenstine of Central.
JOSHUA PATRICK: A Southwest Regional champion, Patrick pinned Penn Argyl’s Matt Williams in 2:03 in the fifth- and sixth-place consolation match at states.
Patrick, a three-time state placewinner and four-time state qualifier, signed a national letter of intent to wrestle at Rutgers University next season.
The three-time District 6 champion went 52-6 in his last two seasons.
JUSTIN PATRICK: Patrick was the only wrestler from Pennsylvania to serve Phillippi a loss this season, edging the state champion in the semifinals at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament before pinning him in an ultimate rideout period at regionals.
In the third- and fourth-place consolation bout at states, Patrick lost for the second time in the tournament to Boiling Springs’ Korbin Myers, dropping a 4-2 decision to the returning state runner-up at 113 pounds.
A runner-up at the District 6 and Southwest Regional tournaments, Patrick could feasibly get the option to follow in his brothers’ footsteps and wrestle at Rutgers University, if all goes as planned next year.
He is 75-9 the last two seasons.
MICKY PHILLIPPI: Phillippi became just the second wrestler in Derry history to win a state title as a freshman.
Jimmy Gulibon, a freshman at Penn State University, accomplished the feat for the Trojans in 2008-09 before winning three more titles to become the 10th wrestler in state history to claim four gold medals.
In the postseason, Phillippi outshined Carr, a regional champ, twice — each time via 1-0 decision. Phillippi first nipped Carr at the WPIAL championships before repeating the feat in the state finals.
Phillippi outscored his four opponents at the state meet 18-2. One of the two points he allowed was due to an illegal full-nelson hold.
“I like to think I’m one of the luckiest guys around,” Derry coach Mike Weinell said. “I’m very lucky to have kids like Jimmy and Micky come through here. I started 10 years ago at the school so I got to see Troy (Dolan) go the whole way through, too. I’ve been spoiled. Having kids like Micky — just for the younger guys to look up to — those are the kind of guys who are going to enhance the program and the community.”
NOAH TARR: A senior who qualified for states for the third time in four varsity seasons, Tarr saw his season come to a disappointing and premature end when he was disqualified from the state tournament after losing in the first round.
Tarr, a 145-pounder, surrendered a takedown in the waning seconds of his first match at states with Williamson’s Billy Barnes to lose 7-6. Afterward, Tarr allowed a profane word to slip out of his mouth, which was enough for the match’s referee to disqualify him from the tournament.
Tarr won 37 matches on the year and capped his career with 139 wins.
“You can’t just replace someone like Noah,” D.J. Doak said. “But what we can do is get better at every weight class and try and fill the void of losing a guy like Noah by winning more matches.”
BOBBY THOMPSON: A senior with a funky style and a knack for pinning opponents, the fourth-seeded Thompson got eliminated in the consolation quarterfinals in the District 6 tournament.
The older brother of Scott Thompson, he ended the season with 15 pins and a mark of 27-9.
SCOTT THOMPSON: Scott Thompson, a sophomore who missed the bulk of the season due to a broken wrist, returned before the District 6 tournament and made another impressive run in the postseason at 182 pounds.
A sixth-place finisher at states last season, Thompson advanced to the quarterfinals before dropping a semifinal-round match and a second-round consolation bout to get eliminated.
Thompson won his second consecutive district title and then took second at regionals. He finished with a record of 16-3 and upped his career mark to 58-13.
“All Scotty ever talks about is improving,” D.J. Doak said. “He’s always trying to pick up on the small things that are going to help him climb that podium. He saw the older guys like Noah do it. That success breeds success.”
ALEX TRIPODIS: One of five Blairsville seniors who made the All-Gazette team, Tripodis (195) lost to Oliver in overtime in the quarterfinals at the District 6 tournament and then placed fifth.
Tripodis, who racked up 26 wins and 15 pins, helped lead Blairsville to 31 team dual wins in his junior and senior seasons.
LUKE WHITE: A senior 220-pounder, White got pinned in the quarterfinals at the District 6 tournament.
White won by fall 12 times and piled up a 27-9 record.
DAVID WILES: One of three freshmen on the All-Gazette squad, Wiles, a 106-pounder, placed fourth at the District 6 tournament and wound up with 27 victories.
Wiles won a first-round consolation match at regionals but fell to Chestnut Ridge’s Aaron Burkett, 14-0, in the ensuing round.
KALEB YOUNG: The younger brother of former Punxsutawney standout Kody Young, Kaleb, a 126-pouneder, enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign, winning the District 9 and Northwest Regional tournaments to solidify a spot in Hershey.
Young scored a win in the first round at states but dropped his next two matches and concluded the season 27-3.