Pennsylvania Puts Four In Cadet Freestyle Finals, Looks To Wrap Up Team Title in Fargo

FARGO, N.D. – A year ago, Kolby Franklin sat at home and watched a live stream from the Cadet National Freestyle Tournament at the Fargodome.

He wasn’t yet old enough to compete in the event, but he’s showed up this year looking like a seasoned veteran.

Franklin scored a technical fall over Colorado’s Elijah Olson – his third in four matches – on Sunday to advance to Monday’s championship round. The 195-pounder is one of four Team PA wrestlers to qualify for the finals, joining Carson Manville (145), Luke Stout (170) and Colby Whitehill (285).

“If feels amazing,” Franklin said. “Last year, I wasn’t old enough to be here and I was watching it all on Flo, people hitting big throws and everything. I wasn’t here to do it. This year, I finally get to do it.”

Ten other Keystone State wrestlers earned All-American status by placing in the top eight. The 14 All-Americans falls short of the 16 that the 1993 and 2003 squads each produced, but it is enough to lead the team competition heading into the final day. Team PA has a 12-point lead over second-place Ohio, which has 13 All-Americans, including three in the finals.

“The Cadets did a great job,” Team PA coach Mike Rogers said. “You had some upsets, but you had some guys that stepped up and did better than anyone expected.”

Stout might fit into that category. The Mount Lebanon rising junior capped his run to the finals with a 10-0 victory over Ohio’s Seth Shumate.

“Luke is a great kid,” Rogers said. “I know his dad. He wrestled at Clarion when I wrestled at Lock Haven.

“He just has heavy hands. He reminded me of his dad a lot – just brute strength, but he has great technique. And he has a high engine. His pace is unbelievable. I think that’s going to carry him through to the finals, and I think he’ll have a great finals match.”

Stout will face Sam Skillings of Wisconsin in the final round, which begins at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Manville will be the first Team PA wrestler to go for the big stop sign. A double Cadet champion a year ago for Minnesota who will wrestle for Wyoming Seminary, Manville hasn’t ever looked like losing this weekend, but California’s Robert Perez and Georgia’s Nicholas Stonecheck each made him go the full six minutes.

“Guys are going to try to shut him down, but he has so many weapons – he’ll score off your shots, he’ll score off his shots,” Rogers said. “You’re not going to hold that kid to a one- or two-point match.”

Manville will face West Virginia’s John Martin Best in the finals.

Brookville’s Whitehill was a double All-American last year, which gave him confidence and an understanding of what Fargo is like.

“It helped me get set for the stage,” Whitehill said. “I knew what I was going to be experiencing this year.”

What he’s been experience is a lot of success. Whitehill scored technical falls over his first three opponents before beating teammate Jalen Stephens of Meyersdale 13-8 in the semis.

“I would have to have won my last match a little bigger, but I got kind of tired and had to pull out a dub,” Whitehill said.

Facing someone he’s been practicing with for the past week didn’t make matters any easier.

“You know what he’s going to do and he knows what you’re going to do,” Whitehill said. “So, there’s really no switching anything up.”

Rogers was impressed by what he saw out of both heavyweights.

“It kind of stinks to have two PA guys (meet there) – we were hoping that would be a final, not a semifinal match, but it gives you an idea how deep the state is and the Cadet team is,” Rogers said. “Colby’s looking better and better. His offense is doing great.”

Whitehill will face Hayden Copass of Illinois, who he said he teched in Cadet Greco Duals, in the final.

By then – or quite possibly by the time Franklin takes the mat – Pennsylvania could have the team championship wrapped up. That would be just fine with Franklin.

“It is nice to get that team title, but individually, you just have to do your best and it turns out how it turns out,” said Franklin, who will be a freshman at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy.

So far, everything’s turned out well for Franklin.

“He’s exciting to watch,” Rogers said. “He’s putting a lot of matches together, techniques together. I love the way he wrestles because there are a lot of angles. He’s hitting angles after angles and there’s no letup. He wrestles very mature for a young kid.”

Franklin could have been facing another Pennsylvania wrestler in the final, but Georgia’s Noah Pettigrew pulled out an 11-11 victory over Dorian Crosby of Cathedral Prep.

Crosby, Stephens and six other Pennsylvania wrestlers will compete in the consolation semifinals on Monday morning to determine placement matches. The others are Sheldon Seymour (106), Wyatt Henson (126), Jagger Condomitti (138) Antonio Petrucelli (145), Keegan Rothrock (152) and Clayton Ulery (160). Jacob Van Dee (88) and Ryan Crookha (120) will each wrestle for seventh place.

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