Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic Preview

The “Rose Bowl of Wrestling” is upon us! For the first time the Classic will be referred to as the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic as opposed to the former Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic.

Five of the thirteen matches that will take place during the 42nd Annual Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic will be rematches between two wrestlers. As always Team Pennsylvania will have their hands full with the Nations top competitors.

Below is a preview of the Classic. More information can be found at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic website here!


113 lbs.

Danny Vega (Arizona) vs. Gage Curry (North Hills)

Arizona senior Danny Vega had originally committed to Grand Canyon University but when the Division II program announced it would be dropping wrestling following the season Vega had to reopen his recruiting process. The 3x Arizona State Champion has been a frequent name on the Freestyle Circuit and in 2015 he placed sixth at the USAW Junior Nationals in Freestyle. PA fans may remember it was Vega who Spencer Lee (Franklin Regional) defeated in the Junior World Team Trial Finals at 50 kg last summer. In the best-of-three finals Lee won by tech-fall (10-0) in both of his wins.

At the Pittsburgh Classic Vega will take on North Hills senior and 4x PIAA State Medalist Gage Curry. The American University recruit has always been near the top of the State Rankings since entering high school and he did not disappoint. Although he did not reach his ultimate goal of becoming a PIAA State Champion Curry did finish second and third in his final two seasons. He will need to slow down the pace of Vega who is slick on his feet. The two have not faced each other in their high school careers but I give the edge to Vega who can score a ton of points.

USA 3  PA 0


120 lbs.

Tyler Warner (Ohio) vs. Tyshawn White (Central Dauphin)

An interesting match-up at 120 lbs. will take place and the reason I say that is because Tyshawn White (Central Dauphin) will open up his offense and have fun on his feet. The 4x PIAA State Medalist recently committed to Lock Haven and was a PIAA State Runner-up at 126 lbs. this season to 3x PIAA State Champion Luke Karam (Bethlehem Catholic). When Tyshawn White opens up his offense he is capable of beating anyone in the Nation, that includes Ohio’s Tyler Warner. The key for White is to not shut down and allow his offense to be dictated by Warner. Take for example White’s 2015 Super 32 performance at 120 lbs. where he finished fourth in a field of the Nation’s top wrestlers. His only two defeats were to Hanover Park’s Nicky Raimo (New Jersey). At the 2015 Beast of the East White had the most impressive Tournament of his career when he won the 120 lbs. Championship from the third seeded position. In the quarters Tyshawn avenged his two defeats to Raimo by defeating him (4-3).

These two opponents have met this season at the 2015 Super 32 Challenge at 120 lbs. where White defeated Warner (5-4) in the consolation round. White would finish in fourth while Warner grabbed seventh. FloPro members can view the match between White and Warner here. Warner is a 3x Ohio Division II State Champion winning titles in his first three seasons at Claymont. In 2016 Warner placed third at 120 lbs. after a tough loss in the semifinals to eventual State Champion Seth Beard (Napoleon, Ohio).

USA 3  PA 3


126 lbs.

Kyle Norstrem (Florida) vs. Luke Karam (Bethlehem Catholic)

Brandon High School in Florida will be sending yet another stud to the Classic this time with 5x State Champion Kyle Norstrem. The Virginia Tech recruit is one of the best wrestlers ever to come out of Brandon, Florida and that is saying something. In 2014 Norstrem placed third at 120 lbs. in the Super 32 Challenge while Luke Karam did not place. Both wrestlers lost to New York’s Yianni Diakomihalis in the Championship round, Karam falling (3-2) and Norstrem getting pinned in (1:40). Luke Karam is coming off his third PIAA State Championship and will pose a strong challenge to the highly touted Norstrem. Both are ranked in the Top 10 by Intermat and Flo with Karam ahead in both polls. I’m going with Luke to pull out the win.

USA 3  PA 6


132 lbs.

Chad Red Jr. (Indiana) vs. Luke Pletcher (Greater Latrobe)

The match everyone will be talking about is no doubt 132 lbs. between Chad Red Jr. and Luke Pletcher. These two are no strangers and have butted heads on numerous occasions. In 2015 at the Flo Nationals Pletcher and Red met in the 126 lbs. finals where Red stunned Pletcher winning by fall. The two met in a rematch at 132 lbs. at Flo’s Who’s #1? event in October 2015. There Red again was victorious (3-1) in a wild match between two high caliber wrestlers. You can view that match on Flo here!

I would expect the same kind of match between these two grapplers. Red is a Nebraska recruit and undefeated in his high school career while Pletcher is a 3x PIAA State Champion heading to Ohio State. I think Pletcher wrestling Sammy Sasso twice this year will help give him confidence in his offense against Red. As much as it pains me I am going with Chad Red in their third meeting.

USA 6  PA 6


138 lbs.

Mitchell McKee (Minnesota) vs. Micky Phillippi (Derry Area)

Yet another marquee match-up will take place between Minnesota’s Mitch McKee and PA’s Micky Phillippi. These two also have some history between each other meeting at the Super 32 Challenge in 2014 at 132 lbs. In the consolation semifinals Phillippi defeated McKee (4-2) and ended up in fourth while McKee was fifth. Last season both Phillippi and McKee wrestled Waynesburg Central’s PIAA State Champion A.C. Headlee. Phillippi defeated Headlee in the 2014 POWERade semifinals by a narrow (1-0) score. McKee was defeated by Headlee at Flo’s Who’s #1? event in April 2015 by a score of (5-3). It is very difficult to score on Micky and he is a leech on top. I think Phillippi gets the job done against McKee and helps Team Pennsylvania stay alive in the dual meet.

USA 6  PA  9


145 lbs.

Hunter Marko (Wisconsin) vs. Mike Carr (South Fayette)

At 145 lbs. Mitch McKee’s soon-to-be teammate Hunter Marko (Wisconsin) will take on 2x PIAA State Champion Mike Carr (South Fayette). Marko is a 4x State Champion from Wisconsin who has been successful competing in Fargo, ND being a 3x Junior Freestyle All-American earning a National Title in 2013. Marko will be moving up to 145 lbs. from 138 lbs. where he won his fourth straight State Championship. Carr does not have a ton of National competitions under his belt but obviously he is one of the Nation’s best and is ranked #10 in the Country by both Intermat and Flo. The Illinois recruit will need to bring his best against Marko who I give the slight edge to.

USA 9  PA 9 


152 lbs.

Griffin Parriott (Minnesota) vs. Hayden Hidlay (Mifflin County)

PIAA State Champion Hayden Hidlay (Mifflin County) will be looking for revenge against Griffin Parriott (Minnesota) who defeated him in sudden victory (3-1 SV) at the Super 32 in October 2015. That match took place in the consolation finals at 152 lbs. with Parriott placing third after Hidlay was defeated in the Championship semifinals by Georgia’s Thomas Bullard (3-0). It was not the first time these two met. In July 2015 Parriott and Hidlay tangled in the USAW Junior Freestyle Nationals in Fargo, ND. Meeting in the consolation semifinals Hidlay won by tech-fall over Parriott (12-2 TF). Watch that match below.

The history between these two continues as they faced off twice at the 2014 Super 32 Challenge Tournament at 145 lbs. In the Championship round Parriott downed Hayden (6-2) and knocked him into the consolation round. After a (6-4 SV) semifinal loss to PA’s Michael Kemerer (Franklin Regional / Iowa) Parriott dropped to the consolation semifinals where he met Hidlay. This time around it was Hidlay who was victorious in overtime (5-3 SV). Hidlay would go on to place third while Parriott was fifth. Parriott is 3x Minnesota State Champion who will be heading to Purdue next year. Hidlay will be going south to North Carolina State. Based on their history anything is possible in this bout. I’m picking Hayden.

USA 9  PA 12


160 lbs.

Thomas Bullard (Georgia) vs. Jake Wentzel (South Park)

4x Georgia State Champion Thomas Bullard will not be making his first trip to Western, PA. In December 2014 Thomas and his two brothers travelled to Canon-McMillan to compete in the POWERade Tournament. The N.C. State recruit was a junior at the time and competed at 160 lbs. where he finished in fourth place. He and Jake Wentzel met earlier in 2014 at the Super 32 Challenge in the Championship semifinals at 152 lbs. There Bullard was the winner (7-0) and would go on to win the Super 32 Championship while Wentzel took third. In 2015 Bullard was the Super 32 Challenge Runner-up at 152 lbs. Wenztel, a 2x PIAA State Champion, will be competing in the Fitzgerald Field House for the first time before he attends Pittsburgh next Fall. Bullard is tough – I think he gets one for Team USA here.

USA 12  PA 12


170 lbs.

Mark Hall II (Minnesota) vs. Austin Bell (Belle Vernon Area)

The star of the 2016 Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic is no doubt future Penn State Nittany Lion Mark Hall II. The Michigan native has won six, you heard correctly, six State Championships and helped Apple Valley High School win six straight State Dual Team titles. Mark owns a career record of (277-4) winning the last 171 straight matches. Ranked as the Pound-for-Pound best wrestler in the Nation by Flo Mark Hall II has been on all the biggest stages a high school wrestler is capable of. He was a 2014 UWW Cadet World Champion in Freestyle. He will face University of Pittsburgh recruit Austin Bell (Belle Vernon Area) who is a 2x PIAA State Medalist finishing in third the last two seasons. Bell had one of the best senior seasons in Pennsylvania winning the Walsh Ironman, POWERade, and Escape The Rock Championships. Mark Hall is on another planet – he should get bonus points here.

USA 16  PA 12


182 lbs.

Keegan Moore (Minnesota) vs. Greg Bulsak (South Park)

A unique match-up at 182 lbs. will take place between Keegan Moore (Minnesota) and Greg Bulsak (South Park). The 2x PIAA State Champion and Clarion recruit Bulsak was expected to meet Franklin’s Dakota Geer in the PIAA State Finals but Montoursville Area senior Garrett Hoffman spoiled the meeting. In the PIAA State semifinals Hoffman upset the Nation’s #1 Ranked wrestler Dakota Geer in sudden victory. Geer, a 2015 PIAA State Champion, was undefeated and ranked #1 in the Nation at 182 lbs. Bulsak cradled his way to a second PIAA State Championship pinning Hoffman in the first period. 3x Minnesota State Champion Keegan Moore was ranked #3 in the Nation by both Flo and Intermat. The Oklahoma State recruit was a 2014 USAW Cadet Triple Crown winner capturing National Titles in Folkstyle, Greco-Roman and Freestyle all at 182 lbs. Don’t count out Bulsak who grinds out wins on a consistent basis. I give the edge to Moore based on his padded resume.

USA 19  PA 12


195 lbs.

Sam Colbray (Oregon) vs. John Jakobson (Stroudsburg)

4x Oregon State Champion Sam Colbray was a 2014 USAW Junior Greco-Roman National Champion and Freestyle All-American finishing in third. Colbray enters ranked #3 in the Nation by Intermat and will be attending Iowa State in the Fall. He will meet John Jakobson (Stroudsburg) who is a 2x PIAA State Finalist and 2016 State Champion. Jakobson, who will be attending Lehigh, is extremely tough from the top position but will need to score from his feet if he is to beat Colbray. Team PA will need an upset from Jakobson if they want to stay in the dual meet.

USA 22  PA 12


220 lbs.

Matt Stencel (Ohio) vs. Jacob Robb (Armstrong)

Team Pennsylvania will be without one of the top seniors in the Keystone State as Jordan Wood (Boyertown Area) is sidelined with a rib injury. Jacob Robb (Armstrong) has done just fine in his absence dominating the 220 lbs. weight-class. The Mercyhurst recruit’s only defeat on the season is to Wood in the King of the Mountain finals (7-5) in a tight bout that can be viewed below!

Robb rolled to his first PIAA State Championship picking up three falls and a tech en route to the State Championship. Stencel is ranked #2 in the Nation by Intermat and is a 2x Ohio State Champion who is heading to Central Michigan. In 2015 Stencel also fell to Jordan Wood in the Super 32 Challenge Finals in overtime (6-5 SV). Despite all the notions I like Jacob Robb to pull out an upset. He has been wrestling on another level the past month and it will be tough for anyone to slow the Robb Train down.

USA 22  PA 15


285 lbs.

Shawn Streck (Indiana) vs. Jake Beistel (Southmoreland)

Purdue recruit Shawn Streck is one of the top heavyweights in the Nation coming in ranked third in the Nation by Flo and second by Intermat. The 2x Indiana State Champion will have a difficult opponent in Southemoreland senior Jake Beistel. The 2x PIAA State Finalist and 2016 PIAA State Champion will be attending Saint Francis University to play football. Anything is possible at heavyweight but Streck is no doubt the favorite.

USA 25  PA 15


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