Freshmen Frenzy

Every season is normally the same in terms of ranking incoming freshmen amongst the rest of the field. Most of the time the complaints are the same as well. Such comments include: “He is unproven at the high school level” and “He hasn’t even wrestled a high school match yet.” Although valid points, these observations do not always stand up when evaluating an incoming freshman’s resume. Often, freshmen have in fact competed in the same tournaments as their elder opponents, whether that is the MAWA Eastern Nationals, the PAWF Greco-Roman & Freestyle, or the Super 32 Challenge. Off-season or not these results are worth noting when compiling rankings.

In Fall 2009 I ranked freshmen Conner Schram of Canon-McMillan #1 at 103 lbs. and caught a considerable amount of heat from the ranking. The following year I ranked freshmen Chance Marsteller #1 at 152 lbs. and received surprisingly little opposition. Both wrestlers would go on to win state titles in their freshmen seasons. Conversely, last seasons freshmen state champion at 215 lbs., Thomas Haines of Solanco, failed to make my early season rankings. Reviewing Hanies’ accomplishments prior to high school I knew he would have an impact on the PIAA; I just didn’t think it would be so soon for the talented underclassman. The bottom line is: Predicting how freshmen will fair against the top competition is difficult but not impossible.

UPPERCLASSMEN BEWARE. The 2011-2012 Season is filled with fresh faces, considerable talent, and tough competitors. Below I will analyze this seasons top AAA newcomers and the impact they may have this season. Only time will tell how far these freshmen can go.


#1. Sam Krivus-Hempfield Area

A three-time PJW State Champion, Krivus will be in the hunt for his first PIAA Championship this season. Predicted to begin the season wrestling at 113 lbs. the Hempfield Area freshman could see 106 lbs. by years end. Krivus has been mentioned by Intermat as a National Top Incoming Freshman for this season. At last months Super 32 Challenge, Krivus finished 6th in a 113 lbs. field loaded with National talent. Along the way Krivus defeated Darian Cruz, a PIAA State 3rd place finisher last season at 103 lbs., by a score of (3-2) in tiebreaker and Cassidy Oshiro, a Fargo All-American from Hawaii, by a score of (1-0). In the 5th/6th place bout, Krivus was defeated by Billy Rappo, a PIAA State Champion last season at 103 lbs., by a score of (1-0). If able to make 106 lbs., I predict Krivus to finish top 4 in the State, if he remains at 113 lbs. I predict a top 8 finish.


#2. Michael Kemerer-Franklin Regional

Also a three-time PJW Champion and an Intermat National Top Incoming Freshman, Kemerer will be tough to beat this season at 106 lbs. One part of the “Franklin Regional Trio,” Kemerer won his first Super 32 Challenge Championship Belt at 106 lbs. last month. En route to the finals Kemerer defeated Brandon, Florida’s State Champion Dylan Lucas by a fall in (4:22). In the finals Kemerer squeaked by after controlling the first two periods over Ohio’s Matt Kolodzik, a Fargo 5th place finisher, by a score of (3-2). I predict the Franklin Regional freshman to finish top 4 in the State at 106 lbs.


#3. Josh Maruca-Franklin Regional

A two-time PJW Champion, Intermat National Top Incoming Freshman, and part of the “Franklin Regional Trio,” Josh Maruca will compete with the State’s top wrestlers this season. Last month Maruca had a Super 32 Tournament record of  (2-2), falling to Randy Cruz, a two-time PIAA State runner-up, by a score of (6-0). Predicted at 126 lbs., Josh will be tested early and often in the WPIAL, but I predict the Franklin Regional freshman to qualify for the PIAA State Tournament at 126 lbs.


#4. Josh Shields-Franklin Regional

Rounding out the “Franklin Regional Trio” is Josh Shields, a PJW Champion last season and Intermat National Top Incoming Freshman. Shields went (2-2) at the Super 32 last month competing at 132 lbs. where he is predicted to wrestle this season. Like Maruca, Shields will be faced with frequent talent in the WPIAL. Depending if he stays at 132 lbs. for the post-season or not, I predict Shields to qualify for the PIAA State Tournament.


#5. Demetri D’Orsaneo-Owen. J Roberts

A name PA Wrestling fans will be hearing is Owen J. Roberts’s freshman Demetri D’Orsaneo. A PJW State Champion last season at 132 lbs. and a Wilson Junior High Classic Champion at 138 lbs., Demetri will fit nicely into the Owen J. Roberts talented line-up. I am unsure where D’Orsaneo will be competing come the post-season but the freshmen could wrestle anywhere between 132 lbs. and 145 lbs. during the season. I predict Demetri to qualify for the PIAA State Tournament this season either at 132 lbs. or 138 lbs.


#6. Patrick Duggan-Cumberland Valley

Last season Patrick was a PJW State runner-up at 124 lbs. falling to Josh Shields (see above) 3-1 in the finals. In 2010 Duggan was a PJW State qualifier at 107 lbs. going (2-2). Last month Duggan competed in the Super 32 Challenge at 132 lbs. and had an impressive tournament record of 4-2. Duggan defeated Curwensville senior Jake Keller, a 30 match winner last season, by a score of (4-3) before falling to State 3rd place finisher Tyson Dippery of Central Dauphin by a score of (1-0). Duggan should compete at 132 lbs. or 126 lbs. this season and I predict the freshman to finish top 4 in the South Central Regional.


#7. Vincenzo Joseph-Pittsburgh Central Catholic

A seasoned Freestyle wrestler, Vincenzo will challenge the WPIAL at 106 lbs. this season. Last May, Vincenzo was a PAWF State Freestyle runner-up at 98 lbs. in the Cadet division. Additionally, Joseph has claimed two PJW State Championships, one at 75 lbs. in 2009 and a second at 82 lbs. in 2010. In September, Joseph finished in 3rd place at the Shippensburg Super 32 Qualifier at 106 lbs. The 3 PIAA State qualifiers this season in the WPIAL at 106 lbs. will have to wrestler their best in the SW Regional Tournament. Whether Vincenzo qualifies for the State Tournament or not will depend on who drops to 106 lbs. once the 2 lbs. allowance is granted. I predict the freshman to qualify for the Regional Tournament and finish in the top 4.


#8. A.C. Headlee-Waynesburg Central

A name PA wrestling fans are familier with already, A.C. is the younger brother of Drew and Ethan Headlee. Drew was a PIAA State Champion and NCAA Div. I All-American for Pittsburgh. Ethan was a PIAA State place-winner and NCAA Div I qualifier for Pittsburgh. Expect the trend to continue with A.C. The freshmen was a PJW State runner-up last season at 92 lbs. and a PJW State Champion in 2010 at 77 lbs. In May 2011, A.C. was a Fargo All-American in the Cadet Freestyle division where he finished in 6th place at 98 lbs. At the Super 32 Challenge in October, A.C. competed at 106 lbs. and had a tournament record of 4-2. Headlee will have to do battle with fellow freshman Vincenzo Joseph in order to make a trip to Hershey.


#9. Ian Moritz-Pittsburgh Central Catholic

Another talented freshman for the Pittsburgh Central Catholic Vikings, Moritz should make an impact at 113 lbs. in the WPIAL this season. Mortiz was a runner-up the last two seasons at the PJW State Tournament, competing at 102 lbs. in 2011 and 82 lbs. in 2010. In September Mortiz placed 4th at the Super 32 Qualifier in Shippensburg and went on to the have a Super 32 Challenge record of 3-2, falling to PIAA State place-winner Tanner Shoap by a score of (3-1) at 113 lbs. I predict the freshman to qualify for the SW Regional Tournament, but due to a deep field at 113 lbs. this season, he may miss out on a trip to Hershey in March.


#10. Ricky Cavallo-Hempfield Area  

Yet another talented freshman in the WPIAL predicted to compete at 106 lbs. this season is Hempfield Area’s Ricky Cavallo. Last season Cavallo placed 3rd at the PJW State Championship while competing at 97 lbs. Cavallo has also finished in the runner-up position twice. Once in 2007 while competing in the 10 and under division at 55 lbs. and again in 2010 at 80 lbs. The freshman will be surrounded by talent the next four years with freshman Sam Krivus (see above) and sophomore Joey Alessandro. I predict Ricky to qualify for the SW Regional Tournament but the freshman may have a difficult time qualifying for the PIAA State Tournament at 106 lbs.


HM. Derrick Gulotta-Owen J. Roberts

A 2011 Wilson Junior High Classic Champion at 110 lbs. and PJW State 3rd Place finisher at 107 lbs., Gulotta compliments fellow freshman Demetri D’Orsaneo for the Owen J. Roberts young and robust line-up. Gulotta could see action anywhere between 113 lbs. and 126 lbs. this season. I predict Gulotta to fair well in the South East Regional and would not be surprised to see him in Hershey.


HM. Devin Austin-Penn Trafford

An experienced wrestler at the PJW State Championships, Austin won his first PJW State title last season at 140 lbs. En route to the championship Austin did not give up a single point to his opponents. In 2007 Austin placed 5th and in 2009 he placed 4th at 105 lbs. in the 11 and 12 year old division.

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