Five Big Things Happening In High School Wrestling

Five Big Things Happening In High School Wrestling

State tournament season is here with the Iowa duals in the books, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma up this weekend and individual tournaments on the horizon.

Feb 7, 2024 by Dylan Guenther
Five Big Things Happening In High School Wrestling

Around the country, some states are in the dual state championship portion of their schedules, while others are finishing up conference tournaments and heading into districts. Just right around the corner are individual state tournaments.

While states like Iowa, Nebraska and New York just wrapped up their dual championships, the much-anticipated dual tournament in Pennsylvania starts Thursday and concludes Saturday night. Oklahoma’s state duals will take place Friday and Saturday as well.

The team race in single-class California is shaping up after conference weekend, while another single-class state in Indiana is holding its semi-states on Sunday. 

Recapping Some State Duals

Iowa’s state dual championships took place in all three classes this past weekend.

Winning in Class 1A, Don Bosco wasn’t really challenged as the Dons beat Alburnett 45-31 in the final after beating Wilton 45-20 and Jesup 44-18. Don Bosco was led by #16 Dawson Youngblut at 132 and #20 Hayden Schwab at 106. They combined for three falls and two tech falls on the day. 

Also for Don Bosco, national triple-crown winner Kyler Knaack went 3-0 with all three wins via fall. After helping secure a dual team title on Saturday night, Knaack was up on Sunday morning officiating at AAU Districts in Waverly. Hats off to young Knaack for his commitment to the sport and giving back to the youth.

In Class 2A, Creston beat Sergeant Bluff-Luton 36-33 in the final – Sergeant Bluff-Luton knocked off the top-seeded team, Osage, in the semis. In 3A, Southeast Polk was dominant, beating Bettendorf 48-6 in the final after getting wins over Fort Dodge (53-18) and Waverly-Shell Rock (54-24).

In Nebraska, Millard South won another Class A state dual title – its eighth out of the last nine. With the help of a tech fall from Little Rock commit Miles Anderson, the Patriots downed Millard West 50-22 in the final. Millard South also downed Lincoln East 54-15 and Norfolk 62-6 on the way to the final.

In Class B, Nebraska commit #6 Cade Ziola bumped up from 190 to 215 in the final, gathering a tech fall to help Omaha Skutt beat Waverly 37-32 in the final. It was Skutt’s second state dual title in a row.

A 7-seed, St. Paul won in Class C, beating Broken Bow 32-31 in the semis before holding off Minden 36-32 in the finals. In Class D, Aquinas Catholic won its second dual state title since moving down to Class D two years ago as a Class C champ, clipping Sutherland 40-39 in the final.

In New York, Plainedge beat Minisink Valley 40-26 in the Division 1 final after winning Pool C. In Division 2, Tioga made it back-to-back titles after downing John H Glenn 56-12 in the final. Tioga dominated in pool play before comfortably beating Macedon in the semis as well.

Three-Team Race in California

While the two top teams in California squared off in a dual recently, another one flexed its collective muscle at its league tournament.

In late January, Poway took on Clovis Buchanan in a matchup between the state’s two best teams – they finished first and second at state a year ago. In the “Battle for the Throne”, Poway held off Buchanan for the 28-26 win, solidifying its status as the top team in the state.

Elsewhere, last year’s third-place team Gilroy was busy dominating the Blossom Valley Athletic League Tournament. Gilroy had a champion at 13 of the 14 weights, led by top-ranked Daniel Zepeda at 138 pounds. After wrestling at both 150 and 144 this year, Zepeda has descended down to the weight where he beat now-#2 Bo Bassett at Who’s Number One.

Obviously, Gilroy has a deep team after a performance like this. In addition to Zepeda, there’s also Cody Merrill (#2 at 285), Isaiah Cortez (#6 at 126), Moses Mendoza (#8 at 120) and Elijah Cortez (#20 at 132).

Much like last year, it looks like a three-team race in California between Poway, Buchanan and Gilroy.

Pennsylvania State Duals Start Thursday

Starting Thursday with first-round matchups, the Pennsylvania State Duals will be held in Hershey and will go until Saturday.

Both classes (3A and 2A) will start with 16-team fields. After Thursday’s first round, the quarters and semis will both be held on Friday with the finals on Saturday. Last year’s 3A champion Bethlehem Catholic is looking for a 3-peat as they’ll open things against Central Dauphin. In 2A, the defending champions Faith Christian will first take on Reynolds.

Led by #1 Joe Bachmann at 106, Faith Christian has four total wrestlers in the national rankings. A sophomore, Adam Waters is ranked #5 at 175, while Gauge Botero is #6 at 120 and committed to Michigan. At 150, Max Stein is ranked #18 in the country.

While Faith Christian is the favorite to make it to the final on the bottom of the bracket, Bishop McCort has the firepower to get to the final in the top and win the whole thing. Sporting five ranked wrestlers, Bishop McCort is led by sophomores Jax Forrest (#3 at 126) and Bo Bassett (#2 at 138). In addition, there’s Penn State commit #15 Mason Gibson at 132, freshman #6 Melvin Miller at 150, and #15 Sam Herring at 144.

In 3A, Bethlehem Catholic is the clear favorite to win. Led by #4 Kollin Rath at 150, a Missouri commit, Bethlehem Catholic is 11-1 on the year and opens against Central Dauphin.

Oklahoma State Duals This Weekend

Oklahoma will have its state duals this weekend with 4A and 6A competing on Friday, while 3A and 5A will compete on Saturday.

In 6A, defending champs Stillwater High School looks to repeat but has a tough potential matchup in the semis against Edmond North. Edmond North beat Stillwater at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dual Classic, setting up the dual of this weekend’s tournament in the semifinal round where we could see a ranked matchup between #4 Kody Routledge of Edmond North and #11 Landyn Sommer at 157 pounds. 

In all, Edmond North has five nationally ranked wrestlers to Stillwater’s four. In addition to the Nebraska commit Routledge, Edmond North also has #9 Layton Schneider at 144, an Air Force commit. Both Richard Thomas (#12 at 285) and Hunter Hollingsworth (#13 at 138) are Oklahoma commits for Edmond North. At 215, #12 Oscar Williams is committed to Maryland.

Stillwater is led by U17 World Champion #3 Ladarion Lockett at 165 and #2 Beric Jordan at 120. Lockett and teammate JJ McComas (#4 at 132) are Oklahoma State commits, while Jordan and Landyn Sommer (#11 at 157) are future Sooners.

In 5A, Elgin High School is the defending champ, while Tuttle looks to defend its 2023 success in 4A. Blackwell won it all last year in 3A.

Indiana Semi-States Coming Up

Just like California, Indiana is a single-class state, so they crown only one state champion per weight class each year. This Sunday, the Hoosier state will hold its semi-state tournaments before the state tournament the following weekend on Feb. 16-17. 

A few teams stood out in winning their recent regional tournament this past weekend, and none were more impressive than two-time defending champs Crown Point High School. Crown Point won 11 of the 14 weights at the Crown Point Regional, scoring 304.5 points, beating the runner up by 219 points.

Other team standouts were Brownsburg, Indianapolis Cathedral and Penn. Led by a pair of nationally ranked wrestlers, Brownsburg scored 238.5 points in winning the Mooresville Regional, while Indianapolis Cathedral scored 215.5 to win at Pendleton Heights. Penn won the Penn Regional with 221 points.