25 Pennsylvania High School Names To Know
25 Pennsylvania High School Names To Know
Pennsylvania is once again loaded with high-level talent. Get to know these 25 names for the upcoming high school season.
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Pennsylvania is once again loaded with high-level high school talent. The state currently has well-established upperclassmen and a crop of young stars coming up and looking to take over the state and national landscape. With Pennsylvania being one of the top states at producing Division 1 and international stars, it’s not hard to find 25 top-level performers to feature here.
It’s worth noting that U17 World silver medalist Tyler Kasak reportedly plans to forgo his senior season and is not included on this list. Also, Bishop McCort is ineligible for PIAA postseason competition, but its wrestlers are expected to be in the field at some of the nation’s top high school events throughout the season.
Here are 25 names you need to know this season:
Bo Bassett (Bishop McCort) — Freshman, 113 pounds
Just a freshman, Bo Bassett has already established himself as one of the nation’s best. The 2021 Cadet World Champion most recently was able to get revenge over Anthony Knox on his way to a Super 32 belt that catapulted him to the #1 ranking in the nation at 113 pounds.
Gauge Botero (Faith Christian Academy) — Sophomore, 120 pounds
Botero had an impressive start to his high school career last season as he finished with a 45-7 record and placed third at 113 pounds in AA. Botero continued to show improvement throughout the summer and preseason with third-place finishes at Fargo in both freestyle and Greco and has elevated himself to #12 in the country at 120 pounds. Botero will have his eyes set on winning his first state championship this season.
Vince Bouzakis (Notre Dame-Green Pond) — Sophomore, 138 pounds
The PIAA will be adding a new face this season with Vince Bouzakis joining the Notre Dame-Green Pond squad. Bouzakis competed for Wyoming Seminary last season with his older brother, Nic, and was a Powerade champion at 126 pounds as a freshman. Bouzakis has shown to make continuous progression as he was a Fargo runner-up this summer and was second at Super 32 last month, losing both of those bouts to P.J. Duke. As the #7-ranked 138-pounder in the nation, Bouzakis will be a great addition to Pennsylvania and could be the favorite to win his first PIAA championship.
Andrew Christie (Bishop McDevitt) — Senior, 160 pounds
After failing to place at the state championships as a freshman and a sophomore, Andrew Christie showed huge improvement last season, when he finished as the state runner-up at 152 pounds, losing in the finals to current N.C. State starter Jackson Arrington. With a strong performance at Super 32, where he finished in sixth place at 160 pounds, Christie has shown the ability to wrestle with some of the best wrestlers in the country. The Army commit will be looking to end his high school career with PIAA gold.
Mac Church (Waynesburg Central) — Senior, 145 pounds
Although Mac Church was third as a freshman and a PIAA champion as a sophomore, last season he showed improvement and started to widen the gap over his opponents on his way to his second PIAA AAA Championship. Church just joined a rare group of wrestlers in history as he became a four-time Super 32 medalist last month when he finished fifth. The seventh-ranked 145-pounder in the country will be tested along the way to his third PIAA Championship run before joining the Virginia Tech Hokies next season.
Nathan Desmond (Bethlehem Catholic) — Sophomore, 113 pounds
Nate Desmond was ultra-impressive last year as a freshman. After finishing fifth at Super 32, Desmond was second at Ironman, a Beast of the East champion, won the Escape the Rock and dominated his way to a AAA state championship at 106 pounds. Over the summer Desmond finished third in the Junior division in Fargo and most recently picked up two wins over fellow PIAA champion Louie Gill on his way to his second straight fifth-place finish at Super 32. Desmond will be a big favorite to win his second PIAA Championship this season.
Dylan Evans (Chartiers Valley) — Senior, 152 pounds
Following eighth- and fourth-place finishes at the PA state tournament his first two seasons, Evans had a breakout year in 2021-22. After finishing third in both freestyle and Greco in Fargo, Evans was fifth at Super 32 and went on to win his first PIAA AAA State Championship. Evans was also a Fargo runner-up this past summer in Junior Greco. The future Pitt Panther could be staring down the barrel at a showdown with another returning PIAA champion in Ty Watters, which would be an awesome style clash with a second state championship on the line for both wrestlers.
Jax Forrest (Bishop McCort) — Freshman, 120 pounds
Much like his teammate Bo Bassett, Jax Forrest has already proven to be one of the pound-for-pound top wrestlers in the country as just a freshman. Forrest was a U17 World silver medalist this summer and has continued to run with that momentum throughout the fall. After picking up another win over Nate Jesuroga at Who’s Number One in September, Forrest has notched double-digit wins over guys ranked in the top 20 in the nation over the last two months, with most of them coming with bonus points. Forrest finished third at Super 32 last month after taking a loss by fall to Jordyn Raney in a match Forrest led 14-3. He maintained his #1 ranking in the country as he has a recent head-to-head win over eventual champion Luke Lilledahl. Forrest was also very impressive against Division 1 competition at both the Clarion Open and the Bearcat Open where he was third and fifth, respectively.
Mason Gibson (Bishop McCort) — Junior, 126 pounds
Mason Gibson has been on everyone’s radar since winning a Super 32 title as an eighth-grader. Gibson finished as a PIAA runner-up in 2021 as a freshman but missed the entire 2022 season after suffering a knee injury at Fargo. Gibson returned with a bang by winning the Fargo Junior title at 126 pounds this past summer and most recently had a very impressive Super 32, where he finished as runner-up to Ben Davino in a dog fight.
Louie Gill (Reynolds) — Junior, 113 pounds
Louie Gill surprised a lot of people in 2021 when he came away from his first state tournament with a PIAA championship. Gill went into the state tournament last season as a heavy favorite to repeat but was thwarted by Aaron Seidel in the finals at 106 pounds. Coming off an impressive Super 32 last month when he won his second straight medal with a sixth-place finish, Gill will look to bounce back this season and return to the top of the podium in Hershey.
Conner Harer (Montgomery) — Junior, 152 pounds
After a fifth-place finish at the PIAA Championships as a freshman, Harer broke out last year as he capped an undefeated 47-0 season with a AA State title at 145 pounds. Harer has proven where he stacks up against the nation’s best as he had a superb Super 32, picking up several ranked wins and finishing third, which vaulted him all the way up to the #4 ranking in the country at 152 pounds. With all of that in mind, Harer is clearly the early favorite to win his second AA state crown this season.
Zach Jacaruso (Delaware Valley) — Senior, 113 pounds
Jacaruso was a PIAA runner-up in 2021 after falling in overtime to Jacob Van Dee. He navigated his way to the top of the podium last season for his first state championship. During his 40-1 2021-22 season, Jacaurso picked up a huge win in the Escape the Rock finals over Anthony Knox that has helped him rise to the #3 ranking in the country at 113 pounds. The George Mason commit will be looking to cap his high school career with his second AAA PIAA championship.
Vinny Kilkeary (Greater Latrobe) — Senior, 120 pounds
Vinny Kilkeary has been a must-watch competitor his entire career. With first-, third- and first-place finishes in three tries at the PIAA AAA state tournament, Kilkeary is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in Pennsylvania this season. Most recently, Kilkeary picked up a win over Mason Gibson in a PA Power All-Star dual and placed fifth at Super 32, which contributed to his #5 ranking in the nation at 120 pounds. The Ohio State recruit will be looking to add a third state gold in his final try.
Sean Kinney (Nazareth) — Junior, 285 pounds
Kinney was a state runner-up as a freshman at heavyweight. Kinney improved on that performance last season by picking up a fourth straight victory over Matthew Cruise in the state finals after losing to Cruise early in the season, helping lead Nazareth to the AAA team title. Kinney is now one of the top heavyweights in the country at #3 in the nation and will be the favorite to repeat as a state champion this season.
Rune Lawrence (Frazier) — Junior, 195 pounds
Rune Lawrence made a name for himself after navigating his way to a PIAA AA state title as a freshman. However, Lawrence looked like a completely different wrestler last season as he dominated his way to a second state championship by picking up three falls and a 7-0 decision at the state tournament. Lawrence was recently third at Super 32 at 195 pounds, which helped cement himself at the #7 ranking in the nation. Lawrence is one of the most exciting guys to watch in Pennsylvania with an aggressive style specifically in the top position and with an ability to pin anyone. He also is halfway towards joining a very exclusive group of four-time Pennsylvania state champions.
Pierson Manville (State College) — Junior, 145 pounds
After failing to qualify for the state tournament in 2021, Pierson Manville was sort of an unknown as far as where he stacked up with the best guys going into last season. Manville proved his mettle as he won a Powerade title early last season and had the Giant Center rocking when he picked up the late fall against Tyler Kasak in the state semifinals. Manville went on to defeat a second returning state champion in the finals as he took out Briar Priest in tiebreakers to win his first PIAA AAA state championship. Manville is coming off a rough performance at Super 32 and will be looking to bounce back in his junior season and defend his state championship.
Jaden Pepe (Wyoming Area) — Senior, 138 pounds
Jaden Pepe is one of the best in the state of Pennsylvania but is often overlooked. Pepe has been third, first, and first in three tries at the state tournament and is 114-4 in his career. Pepe dominated his way to his second AA state championship last year and completed a 45-0 season. It’s been hard to tell exactly where Pepe stacks up against the top wrestlers in the country due to his lack of results in high-level national tournaments. Pepe is one of the few top seniors left that are currently uncommitted to a college.
Dalton Perry (Central Mountain) — Sophomore, 132 pounds
Dalton Perry had a fantastic freshman season last year. After a disappointing performance at Powerade early in the season, Perry ran the table the rest of the year and picked up wins over a returning PIAA champion in Jacob Van Dee and Maddox Shaw on his way to a AAA state championship. Keep an eye on Perry this season and we will find out if he has made jumps since last season and if he is able to go back-to-back at the state tournament.
Kollin Rath (Bethlehem Catholic) — Sophomore, 138 pounds
Rath was a well-established wrestler coming into his freshman season and proved to be the real deal as he finished a 24-2 season with a third-place finish at 132 pounds at the state tournament. Rath’s lone loss at PIAA’s was a tight 3-1 decision against two-time state champion Mac Church in the semis. He defeated another tough freshman in Collin Gaj for third place. Rath had a productive offseason as he was a freestyle runner-up in the 16U division at Fargo and picked up his third Super 32 medal as he finished third last month at 138 pounds. Rath is currently ranked #6 in the nation at 138 pounds and could be the favorite to win his first PIAA championship this season.
Sonny Sasso (Nazareth) — Senior, 189 pounds
Following a seventh-place finish at the AAA state tournament as a sophomore, Sonny Sasso had a breakout year in 2022. During his 46-0 season, Sasso picked up a huge win over Mac Stout in an awesome semifinal bout on his way to his first state championship. Along with an individual title, Sasso was a huge contributor to helping Nazareth win the AAA team state title as well. Despite being an upperweight, Sasso has a very unique style in which he is excellent in scrambles and can cradle opponents from just about anywhere. Sasso recently committed to Virginia Tech and will be looking to cap off his high school career with a second PIAA gold medal.
Aaron Seidel (North Lebanon) — Sophomore, 113 pounds
Aaron Seidel was sort of an unknown coming into last season and he immediately exploded onto the scene. Seidel completed a 49-1 freshman season by defeating returning state champion Louie Gill in the PIAA finals for a state title. Seidel has seemed to improve throughout the offseason as he finished sixth in freestyle in Fargo and recently placed third at the Super 32. Seidel is currently ranked #11 in the country at 113 pounds and could be looking at a potential rematch with Louie Gill when the postseason comes around if he chooses to stay at 113 pounds.
Maddox Shaw (Thomas Jefferson) — Sophomore, 132 pounds
Maddox Shaw had an excellent freshman season. He was a Powerade runner-up and placed third at the AAA state championships with his only loss at the state tournament coming to fellow freshman Dalton Perry in an awesome semifinal. Shaw was third in Fargo in the 16U division this summer and had a good performance at Super 32, despite failing to place. Shaw is currently ranked #10 in the country at 132 pounds and could potentially have an anticipated rematch with Dalton Perry coming this season.
Ty Watters (West Allegheny) — Senior, 152 pounds
Ty Watters was a huge story last season as he split four matches with returning PIAA champion Finn Solomon throughout the year, including a win in the state finals. As a result, his first PIAA medal was a gold. Watters was impressive at the Super 32 last month as well as he made the finals and pushed LaDarion Lockett to the brink before finishing as the runner-up, which helped him climb to #3 in the national rankings at 152 pounds. Watters has a wild style and is one of the most exciting guys to watch in the country right now. The future West Virginia Mountaineer should be on your must-watch list every time he takes the mat this season.
Rocco Welsh (Waynesburg Central) — Senior, 170 pounds
Welsh has one of the most impressive resumes in the country at the moment. He finished as a state runner-up as a freshman and a sophomore before dominating his way to his first AAA state championship last season with three bonus-point wins and a technical fall in the finals. Welsh also picked up an Ironman title last season and was a runner-up in Fargo in the Junior division. Welsh avenged his loss from the Fargo finals in September by defeating Josh Barr at Who’s Number One in an awesome bout. Welsh also won his first Super 32 belt last month in a wild comeback win over Daschle Lamer in the finals. The future Ohio State Buckeye and #1 wrestler in the country at 170 pounds will be back this season looking to dominate his way to a second state crown.
Branden Wenztel (Montoursville Area) — Senior, 120 pounds
Wentzel has had a fantastic career so far for Montoursville. He started his high school career by winning a state championship in 2020. Since then, Wenztel has finished third at the state tournament as a sophomore and was the state runner-up at 113 pounds last year after losing the rubber match against Gavin Bradley in a 4-3 barnburner in the state finals. Wentzel had significant wins last year over Gauge Botero, Gavin Bradley, and Devin Jackson and will certainly be one of the favorites to end his career with a second state championship before moving on to Penn State next season.
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