2022 PIAA AAA Lightweight Preview
2022 PIAA AAA Lightweight Preview
Preview of the 2022 PIAA AAA State Wrestling Championships.
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The PIAA Championships return to FloWrestling March 10-12. All bouts will be streamed live starting with AA on Thursday morning at 9am EST. AAA gets underway at 4pm Thursday afternoon.This four part series will preview each bracket for lightweights (106-138) and heavyweights (145-285) on both the AA and AAA side. AA release will be followed by AAA. Check into the event hub for all written and video content.
#5 Tyson Cook, 10th, West Scranton
Cole McFarland, 10th, Haverford
#3 Luke Sirianni, 11th, Abington Heights 6th 106
What this bracket lacks in returning qualifiers and medalists it more than makes up with the freshman star power.
Nathan Desmond (Bethlehem Catholic) is #2 in the country and dropped a sudden victory decision to #1 Beric Jordan at Ironman. He is as talented as they come at the high school level. He comes in a strong favorite in the entire bracket. I think he will find his toughest competition in the semifinals against Eren Sement (Council Rock North). I’ve seen Sement in person against national competition twice this season and really feel he’s right on the cusp of breaking into the top tier. Desmond can’t look ahead as a possible quarterfinal with Nico Fanella (Indiana) isn’t to be overlooked.
Luke Sirianni (Abington Heights) is the only returning medalist in the field. His only loss this season came in the regional final to Desmond. Luke Willochell (Greater Latrobe) is the other regional champion in the half and those two appear to be headed to a semifinal showdown.
#1 Nathan Desmond (Bethlehem Catholic) over #4 Luke Willochell (Greater Latrobe)
Cole Smith, 11th, Spring-Ford
#2 Kaedyn Williams, 10th, Manheim Township 1st 106
#3 Cael Nasdeo, 11th, Williamsport 2nd 106
#1 Zachary Jacaruso, 11th, Delaware Valley 2nd 113
#4 Tyler Chappell, 11th, Seneca Valley 3rd 106
#7 Carson Wagner, 11th, Northampton 5th 113
#10 Tony Burke, 12th, 7th 106
#9 Nic Allison, 12th, 8th 106 (2020)
113lbs in AA is my favorite weight in that class. AAA 113lbs takes the award for most intriguing weight in either class for my liking. There are seven returning or former medalists and three guys in the weight class made a final last year.
Kaedyn Williams (Manheim Township) is a returning champion and top seed. This year that means your draw will be the toughest path possible. It’s all coincidence with other regions having elite runner-ups. As a fan you should like the amount of times you get to see the top guys get pushed. Williams will be pushed in the quarter, but the round of 16 match between Nic Allison (Mifflin County) and Tahir Parkins (Nazareth) to determine who gets to that quarter is a championship level bout in itself. Tony Burke (Council Rock North) and Tyler Chappell (Seneca Valley) should square off in the bottom quarter. Williams and Chappell split matches last season. There are so many scenarios that could play out in this half it is impossible to lay them out. The only thing that is assured is the quality of wrestling right from the opening round will be second to none at the high school level.
While the top bracket could play out in many combinations I think the bottom half is a much clearer picture. Cael Nasdeo (Williamsport) is a returning runner-up and defeated Carson Wagner (Northampton) in last year’s championships. They could hit in the round of 16. Wagner pinned Nasdeo in his home gym back in December. I think the winner there will hit Zac Jacaruso (Delaware Valley) in the semifinal. Jacaruso made headlines earlier this season defeating national #1 Anthony Knox of New Jersey. Jacaruso was a PIAA runner-up and NHSCA sophomore 3rd place finisher. The kid has a long list of credentials. In that NHSCA run he defeated Chappell. That was also the final at the Cumberland Valley Kickoff Classic and went in Jacaruso’s favor. I like him at this weight.
Zachary Jacaruso (Delaware Valley) over Tyler Chappell (Seneca Valley)
7th Mason Ziegler (Quakertown) FOR A Forfeit (N/A), 0-0
#8 Carmen Cortese, 11th, West Chester Henderson
Rocco Fratelli, 10th, Northern York
Dominic Ortlip, 12th, Spring-Ford
Gavin Sheridan, 10th, Boyertown
Kamdyn Williams, 10th, Manheim Township
#2 Vinny Kilkeary, 11th, Greater Latrobe 3rd 113
#1 Mason Leiphart, 12th, Dover 3rd 120
# 3 Troy Hohman, 12th, Penn Trafford 4th 113
#6 Charlie Bunting, 11th, Nazareth 5th 113
#5 Cael McIntyre, 11th, Bethlehem Catholic 6th 113
#9 Mason Ziegler, 10th, Quakertown 7th 113
Sean Logue, 12th, Father Judge 7th 106 (2020)
If I don’t get to watch a Mason Leiphart (Dover) vs Vinny Kilkeary (Greater Latrobe) bout I will feel like I got cheated. They have very different styles and each have positions they dominate. I have no clue what the match will look like, but I hope the fans get to see.
Leiphart is the top seed and the bracket gods were obligated to put an incredible matchup in the round of 16 in his quarter. Returning medalists Charlie Bunting (Nazareth) and Troy Hohman (Penn Trafford) get to wrestle that match. Watch for Sean Logue (Father Judge) out of the bottom quarter. He will likely have to go through regional champions Carmen Cortese (West Chester Henderson) and Asher Cunningham (State College) to reach the semifinals. He missed last season and looks to be back in medalist form.
Kilkeary would be the favorite on this half, but there are plenty of chances for someone else to seize the moment. Kamdyn Williams (Manheim Township) is the ultimate wild card on this half. He won the West Super Region last year defeating both Kilkear and Jacob Van Dee en route to the title. He then failed to make weight for the PIAA State Championships. He has missed time this season due to injury. If he is competing to the best of his ability he is a tough out for anyone in the bracket. Mason Ziegler (Quakertown) and Cael McIntyre (Bethlehem Catholic) have both earned medals in Hershey and will pose a threat.
#1 Mason Leiphart (Dover) over #2 Vinny Kilkeary (Greater Latrobe)
Cannon Hershey, 12th, Oxford
Joshua Hillard, 12th, Manheim Township
Matthew Ricci, 12th, Garnet Valley
#2 Jacob Van Dee, 12th, Erie Cathedral Prep 1st 113
#3 Karl Shindledecker, 12th, Chambersburg 2nd 120
#5 Dante Frinzi, 12th, Bethlehem Catholic 4th 120
#6 Gunner Myers, 10th, Wallenpaupack 5th 120
#4 Braxton Appello-Fries, 12th, Nazareth 6th 113 (2020)
The first thought when looking at the bracket is that Dalton Perry’s (Central Mountain) fall over Jacob Van Dee (Erie Cathedral Prep) turned the bracket on its head. That’s not exactly true as Perry’s lack of prestige points kept the approximate balance of the bracket had Van Dee won the overtime bout. Dante Frinzi (Bethlehem Catholic) and Braxton Apello-Fries (Nazareth) have a long-standing rivalry that stands at 7-6 in favor of Frinzi. Had Frinzi won the regional that would have changed things drastically with Frinzi going into the second seed. So Apello-Fries’ lack of prestige points really shakes things up. Ethan Lebin (Hempfield) knocking off Powerade finalist Maddox Shaw (Thomas Jefferson) also contributed to top seed Karl Shindledecker (Chambersburg) being rewarded with possibly the toughest path of anyone in the bracket. The bracket debate could go on forever, it’s just a reality that when you pack so many talented wrestlers into a bracket there are going to be plenty of spots that look like “bad draws.”
Shindledecker and Shaw should be a fantastic quarterfinal. Matching them in the bottom quarter, I expect Apello-Fries and Perry to have the youth vs experience battle. I am going to take the experience in Shindledecker to take out both freshmen phenoms en route to his second final in a row.
Two round of 16 matches stick out here. Brady Collins (Clearfield) is another freshman that doesn’t wrestle like one at 126lbs. He isn’t the level of Perry and Shaw, but I am very interested to see how he stacks up. He gets senior Joshua Hillard (Manheim Township) who is now a three-time qualifier looking for his first medal. Jacob Van Dee (Erie Cathedral Prep) vs Dante Frinzi (Bethlehem Catholic) is the best round of 16 match in any weight. Both guys are making their fourth appearance and seeking their third medal. Van Dee has made back-to-back finals winning in dramatic fashion last season. This match is must watch.
#2 Jacob Van Dee (Erie Cathedral Prep) over #3 Karl Shindledecker (Chambersburg)
1st Tyler Kasak (Bethlehem Catholic) DEC Carter Dibert (Franklin Regional), 3-2
5th Luke Simcox (Central Mountain) DEC Patrick Snoke (Northampton), 5-0
#4 Braden Bower, 12th, Williamsport
Javien DeLeon, 12th, Bethlehem Liberty
Garrett Gehr, 12th, Garden Spot
#10 Aidan O’Shea, 12th, Bellefonte (2020)
Billy Wilson, 12th, West Chester Henderson
#1 Mac Church, 11th, Waynesburg 1st 120
#2 Luke Simcox, 10th, Central Mountain 5th 126
#3 Matthew Repos, 11th, Central Dauphin 7th 126
#7 Chad Ozias, 12th, Connellsville 8th 120
Nate Shippey, 12th, Interboro 8th 126
Circle the Mac Church (Waynesburg) is a returning champion and top seed. You know the pattern already, Church gets the path of greatest resistance. Braden Bower (Williamsport) is a tough senior looking for his first medal. Don’t let that stat fool you. Bower’s hit lit this year includes Scott Johnson, Luke Simcox Central Mountain), Owen Reinsel and Brandan Chletsos. Unfortunately for Bower, Simcox got revenge in the regional final pushing Bower into Church’s quarter. Collin Gaj (Quakertown), pronounced guy, and Kollin Rath (Bethlehem Catholic) appear to be headed for a quarterfinal showdown for freshman supremacy at 132lbs. Gaj is tough on top and has a 9-match pin streak dating back to February 15th. Rath missed the early part of the season, but has put bonus points up in all but one match in the postseason. I think you can assume he is no longer being affected. I think Rath has the edge here and am very interested to watch him against Church.
Luke Simcox (Central Mountain) and Matt Repos (Central Dauphin) are the regional champions in this half. They were fifth and seventh a year ago. They met at the West Super Region with Simcox winning 5-3. I have them meeting in the semifinal after they did the heavy lifting at regionals to position themselves opposite Church.
#1 Mac Church (Waynesburg) over #2 Luke Simcox (Central Mountain)
#8 Aliazer Alicea, 12th, Manheim Township
Nick Velde, 12th, Emmaus
Taylor Weaver, 12th, Central Mountain (2020)
#1 Tyler Kasak, 11th, Bethlehem Catholic 1st 126
#4 Briar Priest, 12th, Hempfield 1st 132
#2 Dominic Findora, 12th, Downingtown West 4th 126
#5 Colton Stoneking, 12th, Waynesburg 5th 132
#7 Kelly Kakos, 11th, Perkiomen Valley 8th 132
Returning champion Tyler Kasak (Bethlehem Catholic) is the favorite on the top side. Pierson Manville (State College) appears to be the biggest threat. Manville has put together a nice season, highlighted by a Powerade title in late December. Kasak and Manville hit at Escape the Rock with Kasak taking the 4-2 decision. Watch the two round of 16 matches in the middle of this half Kakos vs Stoneking and Alicea vs Vielma should both be quality bouts for the opening round.
Dominic Findora (Downingtown West) and returning state champion Briar Priest (Hempfield) are heavy favorites to meet in the semifinals. This match-up has an interesting wrinkle as Findora split with former state champion Ethan Berginc of Hempfield last season. What did Hempfield learn from those match-ups and can they apply it here? Another interesting note from this half is Erick Dominguez won a state title for Garden City last year in Kansas. He has the opportunity to wrestle into Priest in the round of 16.
Tyler Kasak (Bethlehem Catholic) over Briar Priest (Hempfield)
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