Pennsylvania Looks To Set Record For Cadet All-Americans

FARGO, N.D. – The third session of the Cadet Freestyle National Championships couldn’t have started much worse for Team PA, and it couldn’t have ended much better.

In all nine Cadets reached the semifinals, which will be held Sunday evening, to cement their status as All-Americans. Eleven others are alive in the blood round, giving Pennsylvania a chance to break its state record of 16 All-Americans, which was set in 1993 and matched in 2003.

“We had really high expectations for this team,” said Cadets coach Bryan Pearsall, who is an assistant at the University of Pennsylvania. “We had best-case scenario we were looking at was like 25 All-Americans. But we had some guys go down we didn’t expect and a couple guys not wrestling today for some certain circumstances we weren’t expecting.”

Hunter Catka, who was a favorite to win the 220-pound title, broke his ankle in a winning his round of 16 match on Saturday, and Rocco Welsh didn’t make weight on Sunday, depriving the team of two potential big point scorers.

The misfortune seemed to carry over into the early part of the round, the first four PA quarterfinalists lost, including returning All-American Sheldon Seymour and Ryan Crookham, who is the nation’s top incoming freshman.

“We were hit in the mouth with some adversity, but I think the guys really bounced back,” Pearsall said. “Our upper weights are doing really well. Even though we hit a little adversity, we’re still going.”


Starting something

Waynesburg Central’s Wyatt Henson got the ball rolling with a 12-2 tech fall over Caleb Henson of Georgia.

Jagger Condomitti of Northampton followed that up with a technical fall of his own at 138 pounds before Wyoming Seminary’s Carson Manville  delivered a very physical 5-0 victory over California’s Robert Perez at 145 pounds.

Central Dauphin’s Clayton Ulrey earned a tech fall over Brady Spaeth of Wisconsin for a spot in the 160-pound semis and Luke Stout continued his impressive tournament with a 13-1 victory over Minnestoa’s Wyatt Lidberg at 170.

Kolby Franklin of St. Joseph’s Catholic and Dorian Crosby of Cathedral Prep scored 14 points apiece to give Team PA a pair of semifinalists – and a chance for an all-PA final – at 195.

Meyersdale’s Jalen Stephens and Brookville’s Colby Whitehill gave the Keystone State two more semifinalists at 285. Their wins also guarantee Team PA a finalist, as they’ll meet for a spot in Monday’s championship round.

“We rallied around each other,” Pearsall said. “Some of these other teams had bad rounds. I don’t know if they’re feeling the same way that we are. We had a bad couple of matches, guys started to rally, get behind each other, start surrounding the mats and cheering each other on. They’re really behind what we’re trying to do here. I think that team camaraderie helped us to bounced back from that adversity, and now we’re rolling again.”


Wrestling back

Pearsall will also look to get the Cadets who fell in the quarterfinals back on track in the evening session.

“It’s about refocusing,” he said. “It’s about one match at a time, one point at a time. If you find yourself in a hole, the thing you can do is score the next point. So that’s what I’ve been really try to instill in the guys. We told the guys at camp, you’re going to get a bad call in this tournament at some point. How do you respond to that? How do you bounce back from that? Just being prepared mentally that you’re going to be in a situation that might not be ideal, but how you get out of it is by staying focused, and scoring the next point and just continuing to wrestle.”

If Sunday’s first session is any indication, Team PA seemed to have received that message loud and clear.

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