Starocci Leads Quartet Into Junior Semifinals At Fargo

FARGO, N.D. – So far, so good as Carter Starocci makes the jump from Cadets to Juniors.

The Erie Cathedral Prep rising senior advanced to the 170-pound semifinals and locked up his status as an All-American at the Junior Freestyle National Tournament on Monday, to join Pennsylvania teammates Joey Fischer (100) pounds), Jackson Henson (132) and Ed Scott (138).

Starocci, a double champion in Cadets a year ago, beat New Jersey’s Christopher Foca 7-2 in the quarterfinals. Those were the first points he’s given up in five matches in Fargo. The road will only get tougher, though, with Oklahoma’s Dustin Plott – who is ranked No. 1 nationally at 170 pounds – awaiting him in the Monday night’s semifinal round.

The weight class is one of the deepest in Fargo – Plott is seeded second behind Ohio’s Carson Kharchla, a Junior fourth-place finisher last season – not that it bothers Starocci.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Starocci said. “You come out here to get the best competition.”

Starocci said the jump to Juniors hasn’t been an issue for him.

“It’s a big transition, but I look at it as in high school, I wrestle these kids all the time,” he said. “I think it would be better if it was all one, but it really doesn’t matter. I think Juniors is more competition – it’s deeper – but it’s high school. I just go out there and wrestle.”

In his quarterfinal match, Starocci had to wait out several stoppages for video review and injury time.

“Through those pauses, I try to stay warm,” he said. “Once I get going, I like to keep going. If there’s a pause, I don’t think if the call goes his way I’m going to shut down or if the call goes my way … I just try to stay warm and same as always, attack, attack, get to the legs and always stay in good position.”

Starocci also tried to keep his focus through what was a very difficult morning session for Team PA, which entered the day with 17 wrestlers still in the hunt for a title.

“I block it out for the most part,” he said. “I stay focused on my part, but I always want to be a good teammate. It’s Team PA, so you know everyone, but you don’t know them that well. My good buddy, Julian Gorring, when he’s up, I’ll follow on him, and he does the same for me. I’ll focus on his match, but other than that, I’ll focus on me.”

Eight Pennsylvania wrestlers have a chance to become an All-American but need a victory in Monday night’s blood round. The others are: Nick Onea (113), Doug Zapf (126), Beau Bartlett (132), Connor McGonagle (132), Mosha Schwartz (138), Daniel Mancini (152), Jacob Stefanowicz (160) and Cole Urbas (195).

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