Pioneers' Hibberd Seeks Redemption At States

Posted: March 12, 1987

Owen Hibberd, Conestoga's superb 112-pounder, went into Saturday's Southeast Regional finals against North Penn's Dan Finnacchio with 31 wins in as many matches. He left with a 31-1 record.

That glorious record will be meaningless tomorrow night, however, when the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAA Wrestling Championships get under way at HersheyPark Arena.

Hibberd will be trying to better his fifth-place finish a year ago at 98 pounds, and despite some stiff competition, the chances of him doing so are favorable.

The only other state qualifier from the area is Upper Merion's Tony Rolli, who looms as a dark horse at 155 pounds.

Here is a preview of what to expect in Hershey. The top contenders, with their schools and records, are listed at each weight.

98 pounds: Ty Moore (North Allegheny) 32-0, Brad Slimperi (Nazareth) 28-3, Brad Rozanski (Upper Perkiomen) 31-2, Rich Tocci (Bethlehem Liberty) 27-2-1.

All of the top contenders except Tocci, a sophomore, are freshmen. Moore could be the best of North Allegheny's three lightweights, although the others are also undefeated. Rozanski placed third in last weekend's Southeast Regionals, but experts consider him the best in District 1. Slimperi won the Northeast Regional. Prediction: Moore.

105: Mike Norton (North Allegheny) 31-0-1, Bob Supsic (Shikellamy) 30-1, Dave Foley (Bethlehem Catholic) 26-4, Chris Keene (Fort LeBoeuf) 28-0, Gary Zurn (Erie Strong Vincent) 26-5, Matt Finnacchio (North Penn) 33-2.

Supsic is a three-time place winner, including third place at 105 last year. In 1986, Foley was second at 98 and Norton was sixth. All five losses for Zurn, the '86 Class AA champion, have been to Keene. Finnacchio, though just a freshman, bears watching. Prediction: Supsic by a hair over Keene.

112: Rich Catalano (North Allegheny) 31-0, Steve Millward (Bald Eagle) 30-1, Keith Stanford (Meadeville) 31-3, Joey Wildasin (South Western) 30-0, Steve Krouse (Lock Haven) 26-4-1, Dan Finnacchio (North Penn) 29-3, Owen Hibberd (Conestoga) 31-1, Chris Paul (Hatboro-Horsham) 30-3.

The first-round matchup between Catalano and Millward, who placed third last year, could determine the champion. Stanford was fifth at 105 last year. Those who have seen Wildasin, a freshman, regularly, claim he cannot be beaten. The District 1 trio of Finnacchio, Hibberd (both 1986 place-winners) and Paul is an imposing one. Krouse handed Millward his first loss in the Northwest Regional finals. Prediction: Millward.

119: John Likins (Bethlehem Catholic) 24-2-1, Bob Truby (Trinity) 31-0, Neal Metzger (Spring Grove) 28-2, Eric Dee (Greensburg Salem) 29-1-1, Greg Alfonsi (Springfield) 28-2.

The anticipated title matchup between Likins, the 1986 gold medalist at 112, and Truby, the defending titlist at 119, would mark the first battle of returning state champions in recent memory. Truby won two straight Maryland state crowns before moving to Pennsylvania and being voted the Outstanding Wrestler in the state meet last year. Metzger, who placed sixth at 112 last season, meets Likins in the first round. Dee's only loss was to Truby. Alfonsi is District 1's best hope. Prediction: Truby.

126: Tom Miller (Elizabethtown) 26-0, Tom Best (Williamsport) 25-1, Buddy Maxwell (Allentown Dieruff) 24-4-1, Jason Shea (Huntingdon) 29-0, Doug Taylor (Bald Eagle) 27-3, Jamy Ritter (Quakertown) 32-3.

Best was second in the state to Likins last season, and Miller placed second to Truby. The highlight of Maxwell's season was a draw with Likins. Shea won the Northwest Region. Taylor's only losses have been to Shea (twice) and Best. Ritter, a four-time state qualifier, is the winningest wrestler in District 1 history. Prediction: Miller.

132: John Dasta (Penn Hills) 31-0, Doug McCormack (Cedar Cliff) 29-0, Tony Padilla (Bethlehem Catholic) 30-2, Mike Bartholomew (Northampton) 29-2, John Rittenhouse (Quakertown) 31-0.

Dasta, a junior who was third at 126 in '86, is a two-time place winner. He has four career losses, all at the hands of eventual state champions. McCormack proved himself by dealing 138-pound contender John Gemberling his only setback. Padilla nipped Bartholomew in a classic match in the Northeast Regional finals. Rittenhouse has yet to be tested in postseason competition. Prediction: Dasta.

138: John Gemberling (Shikellamy) 30-1, Tim Wittman (St. Mary's) 29-0, Chad Pines (Cedar Cliff) 28-1, Mike Xakellis (Lancaster McCaskey) 27-1, Dave Romesburg (Springfield) 32-1, Eric Moser (Methacton) 28-2.

Wittman was first and Gemberling was third at 132 last year, which firmly establishes them as the favorites. Pines is a freshman with poise and maturity beyond his years. Xakellis' only loss was to Pines. Romesburg looked impressive in the Southeast Regionals, where he pinned Moser. Moser, who excels on his feet (a must at the state level), opens against Xakellis. Prediction: Wittman.

145: Scott Hovan (Allentown Allen) 27-1, Tom Marchetti (Easton) 30-2, Tom Beckett (Upper Dublin) 29-2, Mike Topisek (Canon-McMillan) 32-2-1, Bill Troup (Manheim Central) 28-2-1, Mike Swift (Erie McDowell) 32-1, Rich Yoder (Council Rock) 24-3.

Hovan, the gold-medal winner at 138 last season, beat Marchetti in the District 11 finals. Marchetti, who defeated one of the 185-pound favorites during the regular season, turned the tables on Hovan in the Northeast Regional finals. It is widely anticipated that their tie-breaker will be for the state championship. Beckett placed fifth at 145 in '86 and narrowly missed qualifying for the finals. Toplisek's only losses were to Marchetti and Troup. Swift, a headlock specialist, suffered his only setback at 167 pounds. Yoder is the only wrestler to have beaten Beckett this season. Prediction: Hovan.

155: Ray Brinzer (North Allegheny) 31-3-1, Scott Henry (Manheim Central) 28-2, Dave Miller (Penn Hills) 29-0-1, Eric Whitehouse (Dubois) 25-2, Jeff Kwortnik (North Penn) 31-0.

Brinzer, a freshman who looks as if he should be more comfortable in a library than on a wrestling mat, has a 2-0-1 record against past place winners. He draws Kwortnik in Round 1, however. Henry's only two losses were to Chris Kwortnik, Jeff's equally awesome 167-pound brother. Ironically, it was Henry who eliminated Chris Kwortnik in the first round of the 1986 state meet. Miller was fourth at 145 last year. It will take an upset for either of the Kwortniks to lose. Whitehouse is the only bona fide contender in the bottom half of the draw. Prediction: Kwortnik.

167: Chris Kwortnik (North Penn) 30-0, Mike Caro (General McLane) 31-1, Dave Zettlemoyer (Stroudsburg) 28-1, Ben Grim (Spring Grove) 26-3, Charlie Keyes (Central Dauphin) 29-1.

Kwortnik figures to be tough to beat, but it happened last year at the states so it could happen again. Caro, third at 155 in '86, cannot be overlooked. Zettlemoyer was first in the Northeast Regional, while Keyes captured the South Central Regional crown. Grim's losses were to 185-pound favorite Chad Gentzler (twice) and Keyes. Prediction: Kwortnik over Caro in a struggle.

185: Chad Gentzler (Dover) 29-0, Matt Armour (Meadeville) 30-4, Craig Katynski (Bethlehem Freedom) 29-1, Dan Engdahl (Quakertown) 31-1.

Gentzler, who placed fourth at 167 at year ago, and Armour, third at 185 in '86, look like the the best of a shallow crop. Katynski's only loss was to Easton's Marchetti (who later dropped all the way to 145). Engdahl has not been overly impressive in postseason; all he has done is win. Prediction: Armour.

Heavyweight: Kurt Angle (Mount Lebanon) 32-0, Chris McCracken (Jersey Shore) 26-0, Matt Kreider (Palmyra) 27-0-1, Eric Seaman (West Chester East) 32-0, Andy Chubb (Susquenita) 26-3, Jon Loercher (Manheim Central) 28-1.

Last year, Angle beat McCracken by 3 points to place third at heavyweight. McCracken has been far more impressive in this post-season, however. Seaman is said to be the best heavyweight to come out of District 1 in years. Loercher's only loss was to Chubb, but all three of Chubb's defeats have been to Loercher. Prediction: McCracken.

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