Many of Pennsylvania’s biggest names made the trip to Las Vegas for the 2018 UWW Junior Freestyle U.S. Open this weekend. Despite not coming away with any Champions, the Keystone State claimed nine spots in the top eight, with three wrestlers advancing into the championship finals.
At 57 kilograms both of Pennsylvania’s participants found their way onto the podium with 4-time PIAA State Champion Gavin Teasdale (Jefferson Morgan) taking fourth and Gage Curry (North Hills/American) placing eighth. Teasdale stormed into the semifinals, notching a win over NCAA qualifier RayVon Foley (Michigan State) in the process, but fell to eventual Champion Brandon Courtney (Arizona State) in a tight 6-5 bout. Teasdale would drop down to fourth while 2018 NCAA qualifier Gage Curry took eighth.
The lone Pennsylvania wrestler at 61 kilograms was Nazareth native Mike Madara (Blair Academy) who went (1-2) on the day, ironically enough, being knocked out in the consolation round by PIAA State Qualifier and nomadic wrestler Jackson Henson (Waynesburg Central). After spending a year redshirting for the Iowa Hawkeyes, 2-time Pennsylvania State Champion Max Murin (Central Cambria), made a statement in Las Vegas at 65 kilograms. Murin reached the finals by way of knocking off two highly regarded wrestlers, Kanen Storr (Michigan) and Andrew Alirez (Colorado), before falling to Ohio native Dom Demas (Oklahoma) in the finals 10-3.
Other Pennsylvania wrestlers who competed at 65 kilograms included Dan Moran (Northampton Area/Lehigh) who went went 2-2, falling to teammate Jimmy Hoffman (Hazleton Area/Lehigh). Hoffman went 4-2 in Las Vegas, as did Wyatt Long (Cumberland Valley/Navy). Additionally Trevor Tarsi (Nazareth/Harvard) went 1-2 and Jacob Wasser (Palisades/Nebraska-Kearney) went 0-2.
Pennsylvania came up short in a loaded 70 kilogram field with PIAA State Champion, and former UWW Cadet Freestyle World Champion, Jarod Verkleeren (Hempfield Area/Penn State) advancing into the quarterfinals, but dropping a 12-2 match to Jaden Van Maanen (North Dakota State). Other Keystone State wrestlers who competed at 70 kilograms included: Jonathan Ross (Northern York/Lock Haven) who went 2-2, John Pipa (Bishop McDevitt/Princeton) who went 1-2, Brayden Wills (Mechanicsburg/Nebraska-Kearney) who went 1-2, Kody Komara (Freedom Area/Kent State) who went 1-2, and Jake Hinkson (North Allegheny/Kent State) who went 0-2.
Again, at 74 kilograms, Pennsylvania was shut-out as Curtis Decker (Penns Valley/Pittsburgh) went 3-2, Jimmy Saylor (Easton Area/Army) went 1-2, and Trevor Elfvin (Father Judge/Drexel) went 2-2. The tide turned at 79 kilograms when Pennsylvania claimed three medalists including runner-up Mikey Labriola (Bethlehem Catholic/Nebraska). Combined the three wrestlers have five Pennsylvania State titles between them.
Labriola, a 2-time PIAA State Champion and freshman at Nebraska, had an impressive showing despite falling short in the finals to Aaron Brooks (Hagerstown, MD) by tech-fall 14-3. Mikey defeated fellow 2-time Pennsylvania State Champion Trent Hidlay (Mifflin County) in the quarterfinals by tech-fall 12-1, before taking out 2018 NCAA qualifier Matt Finesilver (Duke) in the semifinals 12-2. The Cadet World Champion Brooks was too much for Labriola in the finals. The two were tied 2-2 after the first period and Labriola took the lead with a push out, but Brooks went on a roll, literally, scoring 12 straight unanswered points to win it 14-3.
Another former Pennsylvania State Champion, Travis Stefanik (Nazareth Area/Princeton), took fifth avenging an earlier defeat to Trent Hidlay. Stefanik, who fell to Hidlay in the Round of 16 by a 6-1 score, came back to win 6-3 over Hidlay in the fifth place bout. Tommy O’Brien (Wilson/Pittsburgh), who went 0-2, was the only other Pennsylvania wrestler to compete at 79 kilograms.
At 86 kilograms Pennsylvania had their third finalist as Nino Bonaccorsi (Bethel Park/Pittsburgh) took second while 3-time National Prep Champion Michael Beard (Malvern Prep) finished in seventh place. 3-time PIAA State Champion Gavin Hoffman, a 2017 Cadet World Bronze Medalist, went 3-2 falling to Kordell Norfleet (Arizona State) in the quarterfinals and then injury defaulting in the consolations. Bonaccorsi advanced into the finals with an 8-5 win over Jelani Embree (Michigan) but fell to his old foe Louie Deprez (Binghamton) by tech-fall 12-2. The two met in the Super 32 finals back in 2016 with Deprez winning the belt. Michael Beard fell early in the Round of 32, but rattled off five wins to finish in seventh place.
2-time Pennsylvania State Champion and current Oklahoma Sooner Jake Woodley (North Allegheny) took third at 92 kilograms falling to John Borst (Virginia Tech) in the semifinals 3-2. It was a rematch of the 2017 Escape The Rock finals in which Woodley won. At 97 kilograms Pennsylvania State Champion John Jakobsen (Stroudsburg/Lehigh) went 1-2 as did Evan Callahan (Freedom/Harvard).
1st Brandon Courtney (Arizona State University) VPO1 Malik Heinselman (Olympian Elite), 10-3
3rd Paul Bianchi (Bison Wrestling Club) VSU1 Gavin Teasdale (Unattached), 17-6 4:41
5th Sidney Flores (Air Force RTC) VFA Ty Smith (Team Nevada), 4-2 1:51
7th Rayvon Foley (Michigan State) VSU1 Gage Curry (American), 23-12 5:01
1st Austin Gomez (Cyclone RTC) VSU1 Jordan Decatur (Unattached), 14-4 2:07
3rd Joshua Saunders (TMWC) VPO1 Vitali Arujau (New York RTC), 10-8
5th Mcgwire Midkiff (Bison Wrestling Club) VIN Gabriel Tagg (Unattached)
7th Derek Spann (Bulls Wrestling Club) VFA Jack Skudlarczyk (Panther Wrestling Club RTC), 12-9 3:31
1st Dominick Demas (Oklahoma RTC) VPO1 Max Murin (University of Iowa), 10-3
3rd Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado Wrestling Club) VFA Kaden Gfeller (Cowboy Wrestling Club/TMWC), 8-0 2:41
5th Kanen Storr (TMWC) VFA Kendall Coleman (Harvey), 4-3 1:51
7th Yahya Thomas (Northwestern) VPO Michael Blockhus (Panther Wrestling Club RTC), 7-0
1st Austin O’Connor (Tar Heel Wrestling Club) VPO1 Brady Berge (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club), 2-2
3rd Jacori Teemer Long (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club) VSU1 David Carr (TMWC), 12-2 2:07
5th Brayton Lee (Red Cobra Wrestling Academy) VSU1 Jaden Van Maanen (Bison Wrestling Club), 16-5 2:34
7th Brock Mauller (Eierman Elite) VPO1 AJ Jaffe (Harvard), 6-2
1st Jeremiah Moody (University of Iowa) VPO1 Dustin Plott (Unattached), 8-6
3rd Jarrett Jacques (Eierman Elite) VFO Kaleb Romero (OSC-Unattached)
5th Mehki Lewis (SERTC-VT) VPO1 Tyler Dow (BRTC), 15-8
7th Andrew Merola (Blairstown Wrestling Club) VSU1 Hayden Hastings (Wyoming Wrestling RTC), 13-2 2:10
1st Aaron Brooks (TMWC/ EAP) VSU1 Michael Labriola (Nebraska), 14-3 5:05
3rd Beau Breske (Nebraska) VSU Matthew Finesilver (Blue Blood Wrestling Club), 10-0 1:01
5th Travis Stefanik (NJRTC) VPO1 Trent Hidlay (Bison Legend), 6-3
7th Travis Wittlake (Team Bucs) VPO1 Ethan Smith (OSC-Unattached), 8-8
1st Lou Deprez (Bearcat Wrestling Club) VSU1 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh Wrestling Club), 12-2 5:39
3rd Jelani Embree (Michigan Regional Training Center) VIN Kordell Norfleet (Arizona State University), 0-0 0:00
5th Max Lyon (Boilermaker RTC) VSU Cameron Caffey (Michigan State), 10-0 1:00
7th Michael Beard (Malvern Prep) VSU Myles Wilson (University of Iowa), 10-0 1:05
1st Jacob Warner (University of Iowa) VSU John Borst (SERTC-VT), 10-0 1:22
3rd Jakob Woodley (Oklahoma RTC) VSU1 Jacob Raschka (Missouri Wrestling RTC), 12-3 6:00
5th Alex Hopkins (Army West Point) VPO1 Danny Salas (Valley RTC), 8-8
7th Lucas Davison (Chesterton Wrestling Club) VFA Cade Belshay (Arizona State University), 4-3 2:46
1st Daniel Kerkvliet (Pinnacle(MN)) VSU Zach Elam (Team Central WC), 10-0 1:20
3rd Quinn Miller (Cavalier Wrestling Club) VIN Matthew Correnti (NJRTC), 7-0 2:04
5th Hunter Dejong (MWC Wrestling Academy) VIN Jake Boyd (Oklahoma RTC), 0-0 0:00
7th Cale Davidson (Wyoming Wrestling RTC) VSU Owen Trephan (Blairstown Wrestling Club), 10-0 2:18