This Sunday, November 24th, the University of Pennsylvania will host their annual Keystone Classic. In its 24th year; the Classic will feature ten teams from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the country. This year’s field consists of – Penn, Appalachian State, Drexel, Duke, Franklin & Marshall, Harvard, Rider, Sacred Heart, Virginia and Virginia Military Institute. We will not only take a look at PA native wrestlers, but provide you with the favorite at each weight class.
Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday with semifinals scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and the finals for 5:30 p.m. Purchase tickets here. All fans in attendance are welcome to attend a free clinic hosted by Pennsylvania RTC wrestlers and NCAA All-Americans Joey McKenna and Ethan Lizak.
The Keystone State is going to be represented by three natives in Alex Salas of Drexel (Pine-Richland), Beau Bayless of Harvard (Reynolds) and Blair Orr from the host Penn (Episcopal Academy). Salas will be making his season debut this weekend for the Dragons. Last year as a partial starter saw him finish with a record of 1-10. Expect Alex to look to start his RSSO year off to a better one. Sophomore Orr from Penn will look to build on his 2-2 record this season with a strong showing in front of the home fans. Last season saw Orr finish with a record of 10-17 for the Quakers in mainly open tournaments. Last year at the Keystone Classic, Orr went 1-2. Bayless a freshman at Harvard is the state’s best shot at a medal at this weight class. Bayless comes in sporting a 3-2 record with his losses coming to a pair of top-30 ranked wrestlers. Bayless is not listed as the starter at 125 for The Crimson, however with senior Nolan Hellickson not entered, he may have the chance to show his coaches that he is capable of manning the starting spot at 125.
Champion: Jonathon Tropea, Rider. Tropea comes into this early season tournament off two wins last weekend, including a 9-3 win over Patrick McKee of Minnesota to help Rider to a big upset of the Golden Gophers. I expect Tropea to continue wrestling well en route to winning the title. Michael Colaiocco from the home team Penn Quakers should challenge as well.
At 133 lbs. we will see four wrestlers native to Pennsylvania throw down in hopes of winning The Classic. This quartet is led by RSFR Chris Wright of Rider (Central Dauphin). Wright comes in with a record of 5-1 and, like his teammate Jonathon Tropea at 125, is coming off a weekend that saw him pick up a pair of dual meet wins. His lone set back on the season comes in the form of a 3-0 to former PA Hammer Jarret Lane of Lehigh (Southern Columbia). Also representing PA in this weight class are junior Chandler Olson from Drexel (Shippensburg). Olson comes in with a record of 3-0 on the year which saw him most recently pick up a win for the Dragons in their dual with Okie State on 11/15. Nick Tewell a freshman from F&M (Mechanicsburg HS) is the starter at 133 for the Diplomats and comes in with a record of 1-1. Rounding out the PA contingent is Dillon Murphy from Harvard (Bethlehem Catholic). Murphy comes in with a record of 1-2 from the Bearcat Open. Expect Tewell and Murphy to compete hard, but ultimately fall short of medaling as they continue to get acclimated to college wrestling. Harrison Campbell from Duke has PA roots having wrestled his freshman and sophomore years at Quakertown before moving to North Carolina. For the Panthers he was a PIAA qualifier as a sophomore. Should be an exciting homecoming of sorts for him to be back in SEPA.
Champion: After a blood round appearance in the 2018 season at 125, Louie Hayes, Virginia moved up to 133 and struggled to find the same success. After having a full year to grow into a 133 lber, I expect Hayes to find his groove and his way to the top of the podium Sunday. This will not come easy though as he will be challenged by returning NCAA qualifier Carmen Ferrante from Penn.
This may be the most entertaining weight class from a PA standpoint. You have two former PIAA state champs in Brian Courtney of Virginia (Athens HS) and Doug Zapf of Penn (Downingtown West HS). Pair them with Tyler Williams of Drexel (Souderton HS) and Brett Kulp of F&M (Exeter Twp HS) who between them have five PIAA medals. Breaking down this foursome, I believe PA will come away with two medals coming from Zapf and Courtney. Both are poised to break through this season as they have had the chance to really settle in to the college wrestling lifestyle. Kulp is struggling early this season, but is and always has been tough to score on. Williams (Mini Metcalf) is the starter at 141 for the Dragons comes in sporting a 1-2 record. The move from high school to college wrestling may prove to be a lot for Williams this year if his early season record is any indication. I hope I am wrong, though.
Champion: Word out of Philly is Doug Zapf, Penn is going to break out and as a result I am going with him to win The Classic at 141 in front of his home crowd. However do not overlook Brian Courtney and dark horse Anthony Brito from Appalachian State as a legit title contenders either.
A pair of PA freshmen in Gabe Miller from Penn (Pequea Valley) and Job Chishko of VMI (Penn Trafford) are at 149 this Sunday. Miller is looking to make his Quaker debut in front of the home fans following a career that saw him win three PIAA medals. Chishko comes in with a record of 8-3 up to this point and will be looking to add to that. I do not think a PA wrestler earns a medal at this weight class even though it does not possess anyone ranked in the Top 25.
Champion: John Milner, Appalachian State is the guy to beat in this weight class and my pick to take the ‘chip back to Boone. However, he will be tested by Wil Gil of F&M, Wade Unger of Duke, and Grant Aronoff of Penn who will have the home crowd and friendly confines on his side.
This is quite possibly one of the deepest weight classes of the tournament with four wrestlers ranked in the Top 25. The highest ranked PA wrestler is Justin McCoy from Virginia (Chestnut Ridge) who comes as the 24th ranked wrestler in the country. McCoy already owns a win over Jacori Teemer of Arizona State and comes in at 4-0 overall. He is the best shot that PA has at a medal in this weight class. Other wrestlers from PA are Felix Belga of Drexel (Cumberland Valley HS) who comes in with a record of 1-1 on the season. Belga was 0-2 last year at The Classic and will look to improve on that performance. Cole Aaron of F&M (Brookville HS) the starter at 157 for the Diplomats comes in with a record of 0-2 on the season. Aaron was 2-2 here last year and as the starter will look to further solidify his spot with another solid performance. Cam Connor of Penn (Kiski Area HS) is off to a 4-0 start in his freshman campaign, but will see some stiff competition at this tournament. Quentin Milliken of Rider (Cumberland Valley HS) has also struggled out of the gate for the Broncos. He will be making his first appearance here at The Classic in one of its toughest weight classes.
Champion: Penn’s Anthony Artalona and Jesse Dellavecchia, Rider are on a collision course for an early season matchup of two Top 10 ranked wrestlers. I am going to give the nod to Dellavecchia though as he is coming down to 157 from 165 where he was a round of 16 guy last year while Artalona is making the move up to 157 from 149 after a blood round appearance. With that said, I would not be surprised to see McCoy finding a way into the final.
This is the deepest weight class when it comes to number of PA natives with six. This group is led by Virginia’s Cam Coy (Penn Trafford). Coy comes in with a record of 2-0 and ranked 25th in the country. He is coming off a season that saw him go 19-16 and qualify for NCAAs. He is the best shot that PA has for a medal at this weight class. Jacob Lizak of Penn (Parkland HS) is the starter at 165 lbs for the Quakers and comes in with a record of 1-2 and will be looking to get his senior season on track with a solid performance in front of his home crowd. Junior Anthony Patsy of Penn (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) is 2-2 on the season only competing in the Princeton Open. Patsy is in a crowded 165 lb. weight class for the Quakers as he is one of eleven listed on their roster. Patsy’s Quaker teammate Michael Kistler is a freshman from Northampton and holds a 1-2 record at this point of his initial campaign. Like Patsy, Kistler will use this tournament to gain valuable experience as he adjusts to college wrestling. All things point to Kistler being the starter after Lizak’s graduation. A pair of freshman round out the six at this weight class. They are John Crawford F&M (Strath Haven HS) and John Hoover from VMI (North Allegheny). Crawford is 0-2 on the year seeing action in only the Bearcat Open while Hoover is 1-7.
Champion: The pick here is 16th ranked Ebed Jarrell, Drexel who comes in with a record of 2-1 after a season that saw him go 22-6 and qualify for NCAAs. Jarrell is a guy that has a big motor and I see him being too much for the rest of the wrestlers in the field Sunday. I believe he will beat Cam Coy and take his title across the street to Drexel.
Only two wrestlers from the state of Pennsylvania at 174 lbs. They are teammates from Penn, sophomore starter Jake Hendricks (Wyoming Seminary) and back-up Jason Montgomery (Bethel Park HS). Hendricks comes in sporting a record of 3-2 while Montgomery will be making his season debut Sunday. Hendricks will be looking to make the level change after a disappointing freshman season that saw him finish at 11-17. Sunday provides a great opportunity for him to get some early season confidence competing in his home gym. Hendricks should medal in a weight class that has talent, but is not deep.
Champion: Dean Sherry, Rider is coming off a huge win over the weekend and will be riding high. I believe he could be challenged by Hendricks (who has a win over him last season) or RSFR Mike O’Malley from Drexel. The Dragons are expecting big things from O’Malley this year and this certainly could be his coming out party.
This weight class is highlighted by five native Pennsylvanians. Freshman Julian Gorring from Appalachian State (Fort LeBoeuf HS) is redshirting this season and holds an 8-5 record up to this point wrestling in opens. Drexel’s Anthony Walters (Bishop McCourt HS) is the starter for the Dragons and comes in at 0-1 record. Franklin & Marshall’s Geoff Magin (Quaker Valley HS) is 1-3 on the season as a back-up at 184. Harvard’s Michael Doggett (Wyoming Seminary) is 3-3 on the season for The Crimson and Penn’s Jesse Quatse (Greensburg Salem HS) comes in at 2-1.
Champion: This may be the most hard to predict weight class in the tournament because it lacks ranked wrestlers and returning medalists. I believe that there are four to five guys who could get hot and win this tournament. I am going with Julian Gorring, Appalachian State for the win and a possible revenge match with his teammate Mason Fiscella for the starting spot at 184.
Another weight class with five PA wrestlers competing on Sunday. Freshman Ethan Seeley from F&M (Great Valley HS) comes in with a record of 2-3 having wrestled in both open tournaments and dual meets for the Diplomats. Harvard junior Evan Callahan (Bethlehem Freedom HS) is 0-2 on the season and is coming off of a season where he went 3-17 for The Crimson. Rider junior Ethan Laird (General McClane HS) comes in with a record of 5-1 ranked 14th in the country. Laird was in the round of 16 this past March at NCAAs. Penn Sophomore Greg Bensley (Pocono Mtn East HS) is 0-2 on the year as the back-up at 197. His freshman year he was 9-14 as the starter at 197. Cole Urbas, Penn freshman starter (State College HS) is currently 1-2 on the season. Of this group, I believe PA will get two guys on to the podium with a legit title contender in Laird. With Urbas set to compete at home for the first time I believe he will find his way into the top four.
Champion: On paper this is a two-man bracket. Jay Aiello from Virginia and Ethan Laird , Rider should be meeting in the final. I am going with Laird, not because he is a PA guy, but because I believe he has been tested early on and ready to put the work in to improve upon the round of 16 appearance from early in the year.
Our last weight class also has four wrestlers who hail from the Keystone State. Duke freshman Jonah Niesenbaum (Salisbury) is the starter at 285 for the Blue Devils. He is struggling a bit out of the gate starting out 1-4 as I am sure he is adjusting to the college game. RSSO Cenzo Pelusi (LaSalle College HS) is off to a 2-2 start with both of his losses coming in overtime. Penn freshman Nate Hoaglund (Mt. Lebanon HS) will compete Sunday with an 0-2 record for the Quakers. Virginia junior Robert Scherer (Burrell HS) is 0-1 on the season in his back-up role for the Cavaliers. Pennsylvania’s best case scenario is Pelusi can battle his way on the podium, but other than that I am not sure that anyone else will medal.
Champion: Returning NCAA qualifier and 21st ranked Cary Miller, Appalachian State is the guy at 285. This is his title to lose, but do not sleep on Harvard freshman Yaraslau Slavilouski. The Crimson wrestler is off to a 3-1 start and ranked 23rd in the country.