Who’s #1 in high school wrestling?
And, quite often, individual wrestlers from the Keystone State.
Five PA wrestlers will get a chance to stake their claim to a top national ranking on Sunday afternoon at Lehigh’s Snake Pit in FloWrestling’s Who’s #1 event.
Jeff Upson and I will be on hand for event, and it’s one that we always look forward to covering. If you haven’t ever been to one, I’d definitely recommend it. The matches are incredible, as is the atmosphere.
Having such a strong representation of Pennsylvania’s power – in addition to a half-dozen PA high school wrestlers, three Penn State recruits from outside of the commonwealth are in the lineup – is just a bonus.
Also, Jody Strittmatter of Young Guns will be in the corner, as he has been for all five of the WNO events.
“Sometimes you take stuff for granted in life, but what an incredible experience to have athletes that are at the top of the sport,” Strittmatter said on Thursday. “Not taking it for granted what an amazing opportunity this is.”
Pennsylvania is often considered to be the epicenter of the sport in the U.S., which makes it one of the hot spots in the world for the sport right now.
“If you think about the sport and how tough it is to get to the top,” he said. “The amount of talent in the state and the country – and on the world stage, in Cadets they got second, and won Juniors and Seniors.”
One of the highlight matches on Sunday will be an all-Pennsylvania affair at 195 pounds, as Malvern Prep’s Michael Beard puts his No. 1 ranking on the line against No. 2 Gavin Hoffman of Montoursville. Hoffman owns a win over an injured Beard in a summer match, but this could be the real beginning of a long-running rivalry. Beard, a two-time National Prep champion, is headed to Penn State while Hoffman, a two-time PIAA champ, is headed to Big Ten rival Ohio State.
Jefferson-Morgan’s Gavin Teasdale will be making his record fourth appearance at WNO, and will look to even his record at 2-2. To put that in perspective, his two losses at WNO are two more than he has in his entire high school career. He looked to get a chance to avenge one of those losses, but No. 1-ranked Jordan Decatur is injured and won’t be able to participate. Instead, Teasdale will face No. 3 Pat Glory of New Jersey at 126.
A Penn State recruit, Teasdale hasn’t been in the spotlight much since winning his third PIAA title in March.
“He’s had a couple things throughout the summer with health issues. Something in his chest,” Strittmatter said. “He was planning on going to Fargo, but little things came up.”
That doesn’t mean he’s been taking it easy, according to Strittmatter.
“It’s hard to keep him away from the sport, even when he’s supposed to take a break,” Strittmatter said. “He’s kind of the ultimate grinder. He’s at a Young Guns practice every day of the week.”
That includes last Saturday, when Strittmatter had a practice at 6:30 a.m. at his Cambria County home. Teasdale couldn’t drive there Friday night, as many of the wrestlers did, so he got up at 4:15 in the morning to make the trek from Washington County.
Sammy Sasso won’t have to get up early to make it to Lehigh in time for the Who’s No. 1 event. The 2017 state champ from nearby Nazareth will be making his second appearance at WNO. A year ago, he struggled to match the pace set by Penn State recruit Nick Lee. He’ll get a chance to make up for that loss as well as one from Fargo in the final WNO bout, where he faces Florida’s Anthony Artalona at 145 pounds. Their Fargo match was on that will be talked about for years to come, and if this one comes anywhere close to that it’ll be worth the price of admission.
Another PA-Florida match will take place at 170, where Trent Hidlay, a state champ from Mifflin County, will face Julian Ramirez, who hails from the Sunshine State but attends Blair Academy. Hidlay is entertaining on and off the mat and, like Sasso, he’s one of the biggest recruits for 2018 who has not yet announced his decision.
Chestnut Ridge’s Justin McCoy, who won a AA title at 145 in March, is the lone Pennsylvania wrestler who won’t be able to claim a No. 1 ranking even with a victory. He’s filling in for the top-ranked Will Lewan and wouldn’t take over Lewan’s spot even with a victory over No. 2 Brayton Lee of Indiana.
A Virginia recruit, McCoy has been concentrating on football since Fargo, but he is trying to make the quick transition back to the wrestling mat after getting invited last week.
“I got the call last Friday that Brayton Lee wanted to wrestle me,” McCoy said. “Jody Strittmatter told me he could get me ready. I started Saturday leaving football practice early to go to wrestling.”
McCoy was planning to play in Chestnut Ridge’s football game Friday night. He said the double workouts were wearing him down a bit, but he expects to be fine for Sunday.
“I’ve been doing some running this whole week,” he said. “I’m a little tired, but Jody told me we we’ll go hard early in the week and slow it down later in the week.”
McCoy, like the rest of the wrestlers, should be primed and ready to go Sunday afternoon.
WHO’S #1 MATCH ORDER
113: No. 1 Malik Heinselman (CO) vs. No. 2 Kurt McHenry (MD)
120: No. 1 Robert Howard (NJ) vs. No. 4 Pat McKee (MN)
170: No. 1 Trent Hidlay (PA) vs. No. 2 Julian Ramirez (FL)
152: No. 2 Brayton Lee (IN) vs. No. 6 Justin McCoy (PA)
126: No. 2 Gavin Teasdale (PA) vs. No. 3 Pat Glory (NJ)
132: No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young (AZ) vs. No. 2 Joey Silva (FL)
138: No. 1 Jacori Teemer (NY) vs No. 3 Mitch Moore (Ohio)
160: No. 1 David Carr (OH) vs. No. 2 Joe Lee (IN)
125: No. 1 Gracie Figueroa (CA) vs. No. 1 Macey Kilty (WI)
195: No. 1 Micheal Beard (PA) vs. No. 2 Gavin Hoffman (PA)
145: No. 1 Anthony Artalona (FL) vs. No. 3 Sammy Sasso (PA)