Carson: Previews of local holiday wrestling mat action
Dec 27, 2022


As the year ends, area high school wrestling teams are getting ready for different holiday tournaments. For many of these athletes, the tournaments are an opportunity to assess their progress and to compete against some of the best competition in the state.

Local wrestling teams are gearing up for a very exciting holiday tournament season. State College is at the Powerade. Bellefonte and Mifflin County take part in the Neil Turner Memorial Classic. Bald Eagle Area competes in the MyHouse Trojan Wars.

Wrestlers of all skill levels will face each other. They will test their physical and mental strength. This week will be full of excitement and challenge as wrestlers try to prepare for the postseason.

The Powerade, one of the country’s toughest tournaments, is undoubtedly a grueling test of skill among the state’s wrestling elite. Rated only behind the Ironman and Beast of the East, the Powerade is a who’s who of wrestling talent across eleven states.

Some of the top teams in the nation are at Powerade, including the No. 1 ranked AA squad Notre Dame-Green Pond. Wyoming Seminary ranked third in the country, is here, along with Bishop McCort, Central Mountain, St. Edward (OH), Malvern Prep, Parkersburg South (WV), Waynesburg, and many more.

State College shows off a formidable five-man group primed for success. Such standouts include ranked wrestlers Pierson Manville (No. 1 at 139 pounds), Nick Pavlechko (No. 2 at 285 pounds), fourth-ranked brothers Hayden and Asher Cunningham (133 and 145 pounds, respectively), and Carter Weaverling (No. 16 at 172).

Manville is the top seed, with Wildcat Luke Simcox, the second seed. Central Mountain standout and PIAA champion Dalton Perry dropped to 133 after losing to Manville at King of the Mountain. Pavlechko is the third seed behind Jim Mullen (St. Joseph’s Regional, NJ) and Riley Robel, returning Class 2A champion from Bishop McDevitt.

Powerade kicks off Thursday at 8 a.m.

Mifflin County and Bellefonte make the trek to Lancaster for the Neil Turner Classic, formerly known as the Conestoga Valley tournament.

The Huskies and Red Raiders join 30 other teams for two days of competition, beginning Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. Central Dauphin, Jersey Shore, and Mifflin County lead the way in the battle for the team crown.

Mifflin County enters the tournament with six medalists from King of the Mountain and four state-ranked kids: Hunter Johnson (No. 11 at 121), Parker Kearns (No. 11 at 152), Blake Aumiller (No. 17 at 133), and Jacob Cunningham (No. 20 at 145). Deakon Schaeffer, third at KOM at 160, and Avery Aurand, eighth at King of the Mountain at 172, are not ranked.

Max Murray leads the Red Raiders. The Bellefonte senior placed eighth at King of the Mountain at 160 and sports an 8-4 record. Other key wrestlers are Cameron Garcia, Nash Irwin, Gage Long, Jackson Long, Wyatt Long, Ezra Swisher, and Noah Weaver.

The Eagles take part in the Trojan Wars in Chambersburg.

Lucas Fye (No. 3 at 121), Coen Bainey (No. 3 at 127), Caleb Close (No. 6 at 172), and Jeffre Pifer (152) lead Bald Eagle Area into battle.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Burgettstown, Chambersburg, Boiling Springs, West Perry, Tyrone, and BEA are the favorites in the 49-team field.

Action gets underway at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola are off until the new year.  

Wrestling tournaments are not simply an opportunity for young athletes to do what they love – they are a chance to test their abilities against some of the best in their region, state, and even country.

For a wrestler, the thrill of stepping on the mat during tournament season is palpable; not only will they be putting their speed, strength, and technique on display, but also the arduouswork that has gone into honing those qualities.

Although competition is fierce and expectations are high, the rewards from competing in these tournaments form memories that will last forever.

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